My Close-Up Photography Setup

April 02, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

GardeniaGardenia Hey Everyone! Hope all is well in your world. This week I want to talk about my close-up photography setup. When I say close up, I don't want to get people confused with the definition of macro photography, which is photography producing photographs of small items larger than life-size. Like a fly's eye where you can see all of the lenses in it. I use the same setup for both Macro and close-up and pretty much call them the same, close-up photography,  even though it may not be technically correct. Either way, my setup is the same. Close-up photography is a great subject for photography, and one can spend their whole career just shooting close-up. This can be done in your backyard or in your home photographing things Autumn NutAutumn Nut up close.  The same lighting principles apply to shooting close-up as portraits or product photography.  So if you can do either of those, you can light close-up subjects as well. Not many tools are needed:  camera, lens (macro lens ) or extension tubes, tripod, and a light source. 

Camera- Just about any camera will do. I use a crop sensor mirrorless Sony for my main camera body. Full frame will work well also and even micro 4/3rds will work. There are even some point-and-shoot cameras and  Straw CirclesStraw Circles Smartphones that will work. I prefer using a camera body that I can change the lenses on. I choose the mirrorless cameras because, for a few bucks, you can get an adapter that will let you use almost any kind of lens on it. I use what I call a vintage lens, but some just call it an old lens. LOL 

Lens- Like I just mentioned I use an older vintage lens for my close-up photography. It's a Nikor 60mm f2.8D micro lens. This version of the lens came out in the early 1990s, but you can still find them on the internet. If you get one in good condition, you have a great lens. These lenses were called the Swiss army knife of lenses because they were so versatile. They can be used as a macro at a 1:1 ratio. They are great for close-up photography and can even be used as a portrait lens, as the equivalent full-frame focal length is 90mm. On my crop sensor Sony, I use this lens with an adapter to my Sony A6500. The adapter is a $20 adapter, which will make this lens mount to my Sony and make it a  manual lens.  This is okay because focusing really close-up stuff with autofocus is really hard. The peak focusing on my Sony will tell me what is in focus and what isn't. This is a fairly small lens that isn't overbearing on my small camera body. I love this lens and will probably never get rid of it. It's the only Nikon I have left from when I was a full-time Nikon shooter. You can also use extension tubes that attach between your lens, say a 50mm lens and your camera body. This lets you get closer to your subject, keeping it in focus. This does work and I have had some success using them, although I do prefer using a dedicated lens. These extension tubes are cost-effective. You can get a set for under $50, and some have the connections in them that let you use autofocus and exposure.

Lighting- When lighting your small subject, you don't need a lot of light.  I have a few small portable LED lights that I can use from Lume Cube. These little lights work great to put some light on your subject.  When things you're taking a photo of are so small, you have to get close and your body can cast a shadow on them.  Using portable lights is a great way to fix shadows that you create. Another way is to use an inexpensive ring light that hooks to the front of your lens and then hooks to your camera, so when you press the shutter button the lights brighten up to light up your subject. These are great for shooting flowers. I have an inexpensive one that I use.  The same saying for buying equipment "buy nice or buy twice" still applies.  But I only shoot close-up every now and then, so I skimped on my ring light. But if I were doing this all of the time, I would buy a more expensive one just for the durability.

Tripod- This is something that every photographer should have.  You don't have to buy anything special, but using a tripod will help you get nice crisp sharp photos. I use my main tripod, which is a travel carbon fiber tripod that I use for everything else. There are some clips made especially for macro work for flowers that you buy to attach to the flowers to keep them still in the wind while you're trying to do close-up photography.  They attach to your tripod, and then a small arm like a pipe cleaner with an alligator clip attached lets you position the flower and keep it still. I don't have any but would like to get some because the wind is always blowing when I want to shoot close up.

Well, that's pretty much my gear setup.  It doesn't take much to do close-up photography. It does take time and imagination, like any type of photography, to make great images. So until next week keep safe and healthy and go explore the world of close-up photography.



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