Macro Photography is often referred to as photomacrography or macrography. It is the extreme close-up photography of small items, often insects and flowers, but may also include small household objects and jewelry. The size of subject in the photo is often considerably greater than in real life - hence, the term macro photograph refers to a photo where the size of the subject or image sensor is either life size or bigger. Macro photography encourages the photographer to pay more attention to the small details and to make everyday objects appear extraordinary.
Traditionally, the requirements for and definitions of macro photography were stricter. In the days of film, macro photography requires shooting with a film camera, an image that captured a subject that is at least 1/10th of its original size on a piece of 35mm film. On the other hand, images that captured the subject at 1:1 ratio, or life-size, are regarded as micro photography.
Today, the requirements are less strict. A lot of the point-and-shoot cameras available in the market these days come with a macro mode that captures good closeups. A DSLR equipped with a macro lens provides a better quality image as well as greater flexibility when it comes to getting a closer look with the use of adapters and other similar gear.
Macro Capabilities of a Camera or Lens
The macro capabilities of cameras today can be assessed using two methods. First, one can use the ratio. For example, a 1:2 ratio refers to an image where the object is rendered at half of its original size. Second, capability can be measured through the distance the object can be from the front of the lens. This is referred to as the minimum focusing distance. Macro photography requires the lens to be as close to the subject as possible.
Many of the more advanced compact cameras today will allow the photographer to get as close as an inch from the object and still focus well. On compact cameras, the shortcut to focus on smaller objects is usually indicated by a flower icon. With DSLRs, macro capability depends on the lens used and not the camera. A macro lens will typically indicate the minimum focusing distance and the macro ratio. A good ratio for a DSLR lens is 1:1. DSLR macro lenses can also focus on non-macro photos as well and can capture other types of images well.
Macro Photography using a DSLR camera
When using DSLR cameras, the shooter should keep in mind that the macro operation tends to be a little different. When the shooter selects the macro mode, it results in the following chain of events: with any lens fixed to the camera, activating the macro mode on the camera directs the lens aperture to close to its minimum, extending the depth of field and allowing him to move closer to the subject.
The working distance of a lens is smallest at 1:1 magnification, since the nature of macro photography requires the shooter to be as close as possible to the subject to capture such extreme photos.