Macro photography techniques, tips and tricks
Tip 1. Manual focus
Switch off autofocus when you’re taking macro photos. Depth of field (DOF) can be measured in millimetres when you’re shooting close-up details, so accurate focusing is critical.
Manual focusing is made easy with your DSLR’s Live View. By magnifying the area you want to focus on on the Live View screen and turning the lens’s focus ring, you can position the point of focus precisely.
Go easy with the focus ring though, as the difference between razor-sharp and just sharp enough is slight. You’ll also need to use a tripod, as even small movements of the camera can throw the focus completely off.
Tip 2. Choosing the best aperture
To increase the depth of field – the area in front of and behind the subject that you’re focusing on that appears acceptably sharp – you’ll need to use small apertures.
Switch to Aperture Priority mode, as this will enable you to manually set a specific aperture. For small apertures, dial in large f-numbers, such as f/16 and f/22.
Avoid the highest f-numbers though, as this will lead to soft pictures as a result of diffraction (where the light is bent out of shape by the aperture blades in the lens).
If you can’t get everything you want sharp at a single aperture setting, try using the focus stacking technique in Photoshop to increase the depth of field.
Tip 3. Using depth of field preview
The image you see through an optical viewfinder is always shown at the largest aperture available on the lens. Although this gives the brightest available picture, it makes it impossible to judge the depth of field at smaller aperture settings.
To be able to see what will look sharp and what will look blurred, press your camera’s depth of field preview button.
This will stop down the lens to what’s known as the working aperture. The image will get darker, so you’ll need to let your eyes become accustomed to the change.
Depth of field preview also works in Live View. When combined with the Live View magnification control that allows you to zoom in and check focus on specific areas of the image, it becomes even more useful than checking DOF through the viewfinder.