Camera lenses explained: how to get sharp photos using macro lenses

DCM118.feature.macro_extra 59a6ded068b146f98446126736e46b74

In the fifth and final part of our Shoot Like A Pro Series on how to get the sharpest photos possible with your camera’s lenses, we explain how to explore the close-up potential of macro lenses and discover a whole new world in almost any and every photo location.

Camera lenses explained: how to get sharp photos using macro lenses

A macro lens enables you to enter a world that’s invisible to the casual observer. Most photographers use them to fill the frame with tiny subjects, but they’re much more versatile than simply being a tool for shooting close-ups.

Most macro lenses have a focal length between 35 to 200mm, as well as a reasonably fast maximum aperture, which is perfect when you want to really blur out the background.

Used at normal distances, you can use a macro lens like you would a prime lens. Most offer a maximum aperture of around f/2.8, which will create a shallow depth of field.

So for normal shooting you need to employ the same techniques as you would with prime lenses if you want to use the widest apertures. At close distances, where a macro lens really comes into its own, the depth of field can be just a few millimetres.

For these subjects you should switch to manual focus, and carefully focus on the part of the subject you want to be sharp.

If the subject is static, putting the camera on a tripod enables you to be even more precise with your focusing.

If you find it difficult to focus accurately through the viewfinder, try using your camera’s live view mode and zoom
in to check the focus.

When is macro not really macro?
You’ll find the word macro added to many zoom lenses, but this doesn’t mean that they will give the same results as a ‘true macro’ lens. The term macro on most zoom lenses means that it may be able to focus a little closer than other similar lenses, not that it will be able to focus on small subjects.

PAGE 1: Using macro lenses effectively
PAGE 2: Best working distance when using a macro lens


Macro nature photography: tips for taking pin-sharp pictures of flowers and insects
How to photograph anything: best camera settings for macro photography
How to set your autofocus for macro photography
10 common exposure problems every photographer faces (and how to fix them)
The Decisive Moment: how nature photographers can make the most of it