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Macro (Close-Up) Photography - Part 1

Macro photography means close-up photography -- making small objects look bigger on film. The process involves getting very close to your subject in order to get an intimate view of it. Macro photography is most impressive when we get down to the objects level, whether it's a flower, insect, sea creature, etc.

Some cameras, particularly "point and shoot" types that do not have interchangeable lenses, have a macro mode. Selecting this mode allows the camera to focus closer. Sometimes the area actually photographed is smaller than the area shown in the viewfinder (check your manual).

Cameras with interchangeable lenses are generally more versatile and macro capabilities can be obtained in a number of ways. In order to increase the image size and focus closely, a maco lens can be used. The best macro lenses focus at 1:1 - life size. Many focus a 1:2 - which is half life size.

Macro capabilities can also be achieved using any lens and an extension tube. Extension tubes move the lens farther away from the focal plane, increasing the image size on film (see Flower and Japanese Beetle for example). One drawback of extension tubes is light loss which needs to be compensated for in order to have a proper exposure. Similar to extension tubes is a bellows extension. Again, the distance between the lens and the focal plane is increased. However, bellows are infinitely adjustable, unlike extensions tubes which are fixed length.

Another option is to use a close-up filter attachment. Just as it sounds, this nifty tool screws onto your lens just like any other filter, except that it magnifies the image... kind of like a magnifying glass for your camera. Some manufacturers offer these lenses in different strengths (+1, +2, +3) to magnify the image more or less.

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