Depth of field - Example photo.

How to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850 – how to macro tutorial.

How to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850 – how to macro tutorial.

This is a how to instructions guide for taking macro photography and extreme close-ups with Sony Alpha A850. Hence the title, how to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850. 😉 Please note that this article is written for a specific DSLR camera, but people with point and shoot cameras can also benefit from information provided on macro photography techniques.

 

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

– Marcel Proust

 

This article will cover:

  • What is macro photography?
  • What equipment do I need to do macro photography?
  • What settings do I use for macro photography?
  • Which Macro Lens should I buy for my Sony camera?
  • How to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850. 😀

 

Macro photography allows us to see the world from a different perspective. Extreme close-up photos can be mesmerizing, and will add a different dimension to your photography toolbox – which consequently means that your reputation as a photographer will improve drastically. If you would like to learn more, please read on – it is very easy to do once you know how to, and very impressive to your followers. – Nicole Lisa Photography

 

Flower fly macro - Photo credit Jon
Flower fly macro – Photo credit Jon. Shot using SONY 100MM macro lens (as shown in article).

 

What is macro photography?

Macro photography is the terminology used by photographers for taking “Close-up” or “magnified” photos of any chosen object or animal. The photographs producing are extremely detailed, showing detail beyond that which is visible to the naked human eye. However, macrophotography is slightly more technical than simply taking close up photos, and if the term “macro” is to be applied to the image being taken, one has to achieve a magnification level greater than 1:1. In other words, the image being captured on film, or on the imaging sensor of your DSLR camera), must be larger than that of what is being photographed. This does not apply to an image which has simply been made larger in post processing, and we shall therefore explain what kind of equipment you will need in order to understand how to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850.

 

“Life is all about the little things. They complete us.”

Alexander Van Dorph (author of Cognitive Disturbance)

 

Water macro - Photo credit J Stewart
Water macro – Photo credit J Stewart. Shot using 100MM macro lens (as shown in article).

 

What equipment do I need to do macrophotography?

The question should really be, “what equipment do I need to take professional looking macro photos?”

 

1. DSLR CAMERA

The fact that you are reading up on this, shows that you have an interest in photography. Obviously the best camera you could have, is a DSLR, which these days are not too expensive. Seeing that you’ve found this article ‘How to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850’, implies that you already have a Sony Alpha A850 (or want one). Anywho, this is a perfect camera to start with – your way to learn how to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850. You will need to use equipment that is compatible with the Sony Alpha A850.

 

– UPGRADING? Read more about one of the SONY flagships: The Sony Alpha SLT-A99V

 

You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

– Mark Twain

 

2. MACRO LENS

The second most important piece of equipment is a MACRO LENS. This is a specifically designed lens for this type of photography, and it will not fail you. You could try to make a cheaper version, buy a cheaper lens or even use a magnifying lens, all of which will impart a degree of the magnification possible – but also create a degree of blur. The optically superb macro lens can be found in the link provided, and will last you a lifetime.

 

Sony 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens for Sony Alpha Digital SLR Camera

– Read more here: Sony 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens for Sony Alpha Digital SLR Camera

 

Hands down, one of the best macro lens for Sony DSLR cameras. One of the sole favorite amongst Amazon customers, currently having collected an impressive 4.5/5 star rating with 16 customer reviews.Works with Super SteadyShot image stabilization system to keep image steady in low light. Make sure it is compatible with your camera though – it is with most SONY DSLR cameras – but you will find out via the product description site. Invest in this and you’ll take your photography to another level. Here are a couple of photo examples, shot using this macro lens:

 

Black and yellow beetle - Photo credit V Jacinto
Black and yellow beetle – Photo credit V Jacinto. Shot using SONY 100MM MACRO LENS (as shown in article). “How to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850.”

 

Notice the fascinating details seen due to the amazing capabilities of the macro lens. This is not something you would see with cheaper alternatives.

>> CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SONY 100mm MACRO LENS

 

Highest rated customer review (recommended reading):

“I love this lens! It hasn’t come off my A100 DSLR since it arrived. I have had it about a month and shot over 3000 images learning all aspects of this superb optic. It is sharp, shockingly sharp! Until now I was using my 18-70 mm and 75-300 zooms with and without close up filters. Mostly good close up shots and occasionally a real nice sharp close up.

 

The 100mm f2.8 is in another league. I have been in photography since 1968, and this lens once again proves my theory and gut feel that fixed focal length prime lenses are still king of resolution. My shots of flowers and bees are the best ever. For the first time I can now see in my digital images just how messy bees are with pollen! Oh, and let’s not forget the color.

 

The color is intense in every image. Warning: This is a demanding lens. So first and foremost read the instructions on how to use the “focus limiter.” This is a must. It will speed up focusing for all uses, including macro, scenes, architecture, and general photography. Also realize that this is a telephoto lens with extreme close focusing.

 

As a result, especially for close ups, the depth of field is extremely shallow when using f2.8 and similar f-stops. This is an optical law, not a defect, so use it to your advantage by planning shots requiring selective focus. By following these tips, taking many shots to learn about the lens, and if this is your first prime lens, you will be ushered into a new level of digital photography performance. PS: Amazon was fast and reliable in shipping my 100mm f2.8 macro. – P.J. Adams

 

 

“Beauty is in the details. Often unseen, nonetheless beautiful.”

Alexander Van Dorph (author of Cognitive Disturbance)

 

 

Here’s another photo example, this time capturing an astonishing close-up photo with unique resolution:

 

Insect macro - Photo credit V Jacinto
Insect macro – Photo credit V Jacinto. Shot using SONY MACRO 100MM LENS. “How to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850.”

 

– Feeling inspired? CLICK HERE to learn more about the macro lens – or the other available lenses.

 

3. TRIPOD

The third most important piece of equipment is a tripod. This is obviously dependent on what you intend to photograph. However, since you’re into macro photography, it is very likely you would want to take shots of flowers, spiders, water formations, snow crystals and/or a range of insects or objects. Depending on the object, and how likely it is to run away if you get too close, a tripod can provide the stability, and close proximity needed to capture that unique shot of a rare insect or object. First there is the the professional tripod. In this case a Ravelli 70″ Tripod with Adjustable Pistol Grip Head and Heavy Duty Carry Bag.

 

– Read more: Ravelli 70″ Tripod

Already have a tripod you say? Well, I bet you don’t have a Gorillapod – this tripod can be attached to all sorts of things where traditional tripods couldn’t. Check it out, it is pretty cool.. is it essential in how to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850? Perhaps not, but it may give you an unique angle and provide you with a breath-taking photo.

4. REMOTE SHUTTER TIMER

Read more: Sony RMTDSLR2 Wireless Remote for Alpha & NEX.


“Wireless remote control for Sony Alpha & NEX digital cameras.”

 

Made for: All Sony Alpha and NEX models.

 

– If you have any questions regarding anything or specifically about this product, you can ask them in our FORUM or directly on the product description site.

 

A remote control timer will allow more distance between you and your desired subject. Whether it is wireless or or cord. The one described permits you to stand even further away from your camera, ensuring that the subject is in focus before taking the photo, and could enable you to take more unique and interesting macro images than your competitors – plus you avoid unecessary movement which is crucial to long exposure photography. The timer has many other functions in additon to the ones mentioned. A crucial ingredient in ‘how to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850’.

 

 

5. High-quality, high-speed MEMORY CARD (Recommended)

If you are using a high-quality DSLR, then your memory card needs to be up to speed to match the camera’s performance. The extreme pro series allows for professional speed, consequently capturing more shots in continuous burst mode or faster processing when dealing with high-quality files which takes up more data storage. Ensuring you don’t miss any important shots or spend too much time waiting for memory card processing.

 

READ MORE: SanDisk Extreme Pro 64 GB SDXC Class

 

Insect eyes macro - Photo credit Amner
Insect eyes macro – Photo credit Amner. “How to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850.”

 

 

To recap, you will need:

DSLR

– Macro Lens

– Tripod

– Remote controlled automatic shutter

Slider (optional)

 

 

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

– Confucius

How to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850 – What settings to use?

Once you are all set up with your equipment, the obvious question comes to mind; “what settings do I use…?!”

 

This is dependent on where you are, and what time of day it is – as the amount of light available will play a vital role.

 

 

Depth of field is very important, the main reason being that when you are so close up to an object, you need to make sure that a suitable large area of the subject is in focus. You wont be too impressed when you finally get to see your images on the big screen, and find out that the antler is the only thing you managed to get in focus of your rare fire ant. On the other hand you can of course adjust the settings to artistically pick out areas of interest that you want to focus on, but understanding the settings you need is the first will help shape your abilities as a photographer. The depth of field is dependent upon the aperture (F-stop), which is explained in more detail below.

 

 

The aperture (f-stop)

The aperture, or f-stop (same as focal ratio, f-number and relative aperture) controls how wide the lens is during a shot. A wide aperture (low f-number) means that your lens is open quite wide, allowing a lot of light in during the shot. A high f-number means that your lens is not open as wide, therefore limiting the amount of light in any given shot. In macro photography – is is best to shoot with a narrow aperture, and therefore high f-number/f-stop – as more of the image will be in focus. An example of what is being described here can be seen in the photo below.

 

F-stop illustration.
F-stop illustration. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. ‘How to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850’.

As you can see, an f-stop of f/1.4 is larger than that of f/2.0, and much larger than that of f/8.0.

Back to the depth of field

If you want all the areas of the subject in focus, a large F-number (for example f/32), will help you achieve this. More of both the background and foreground objects/details will be in focus. A smaller f-number (and therefore larger aperture) such as f/1.2 will isolate more of the foreground from details in the picture that lay more in the background, meaning the foreground will appear sharp and the background will appear blurry. An example of this can be seen in the picture below. The picture on the left has a large depth of Field (meaning both the foreground and background elements are in focus), and therefore has a high f-stop and a narrow aperture.

 

Depth of field - Example photo.
Depth of field – Example photo. ‘How to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850’.

Explanation: The picture on the right has a low depth of field, therefore a wide aperture, and low f-stop. The focus is therefore on the leaves, but as you can see the background is not in focus. This can be a cool effect if you utilize it correctly.

Should I use manual focus or automatic focus?

Focussing sharply on a subject in macro photography is perhaps the hardest element to perfect in macrophotography. The lens depicted earlier is a good way of avoiding this obstacle though, but in general it is best to use manual focus, after you have already focussed on the subject using auto-focus. A combination of the two. You can do this by focusing automatically on the subject first, and once you are sure it is in focus, switch to manual focus. Simples, right? This will ensure that when you are ready to take the picture, and press the shutter button, the lens won’t try to automatically re-focus, thereby causing you to have to set up your shot again.

Which size macro lens should I buy?

The most popular choice of macro lenses is around 40-100mm, like this one – Read more here: Sony 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens.

 

 

There are so many macro lenses out there, that it can be hard to decide which to buy. You may have seen the different types, with differing focal lengths; 50mm, 60mm, 100mm and 105mm. But what does the focal length mean for camera performance?

 

The lower the focal length of the lens, the closer you will need to be to the subject, and it will be therefore harder to take good macro photos of injects, or objects that move. This is an extremely important consideration to take into account.

 

 

For example, using 60mm macro lens, will mean you really need to be physically close, even directly next to the object. It is likely you will also cast shadows over the subject, and light is an important factor. Using a 100mm lens will give you that extra length. You can stand nearly 1 meter away from the object, and still get extremely good macro photos, without casting shadows and without potentially scaring your subject away. With the 60mm lens, you have to stand only 15cm away, and as explained, this can at times be problematic – for example if you are photographing a cheeky insect or due to your own shadow.

 

Article: How to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850.

By: Nicole Lisa Photography for Super Stoked Magazine – talk with her directly in our FORUM (NicoleLisaPhoto), visit her facebook page or website.

 

Fly fly - Photo credit V Jacinto
Fly fly – Photo credit V Jacinto. Shot using SONY 100MM MACRO LENS (as shown in article). “How to macro photography with Sony Alpha A850.”

 

“Where beams of imagination play, The memory’s soft figures melt away.

– Alexander Pope

Photo credits: J. Stewart, Jon, Amner and J Vocinto, Sony promo and Wikimedia Commons.

Words: Nicole Lisa Photography, Tammy Winters and Alexander Van Dorph (author of Cognitive Disturbance)