Alexander Van Dorph quote

How to macro photography with Canon 400D – macro photo tutorial.

How to macro photography with Canon 400D – macro photo tutorial.

This is a how to instructions guide for taking macro photography and extreme close-ups with Canon 400D. Hence the title, how to macro photography with Canon 400D. ๐Ÿ˜‰


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 Canon camera?
  • How to macro photography with Canon 400D. ๐Ÿ˜€


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


Nature macro - Photo credit Bader
Nature macro – Photo credit Bader. Shot with Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens.

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 take macro photography with Canon 400D.


“All I can do is be me, whoever that is.”

– Bob Dylan


What equipment do I need to do macrophotography?

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


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 Canon 400D’, implies that you already have a Canon 400D (or want one). Anywho, this is a perfect camera to start with – your way to learn how to macro photography with Canon 400D.


– UPGRADING? Read more about one of the Canon Flagships: The Canon 1D Mark IV.


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

– Mark Twain



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.


Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens

– Read more: CANON EF 100MM

Canon 100 mm macro lens - Photo credit Canon
Canon 100 mm macro lens – Photo credit Canon

Hands down, the best macro lens for Canon DSLR cameras. The sole favorite amongst Amazon customers, currently having collected an impressive 5/5 star rating with 273 customer reviews. Canon’s first mid-telephoto macro “L” series lens to include Canon’s sophisticated Image Stabilization. Invest in this and you’ll take your photography to another level. Here are a couple of photo examples, shot using this macro lens:


Water Drop macro - Photo credit E. L.
Water Drop macro – Photo credit E. L.
Notice the fascinating details seen due to the amazing capabilities of the macro lens. This is not something you would see with cheaper alternatives.


Highest rated customer review on Amazon: (The abbreviation IS refers to image stabilization):

“I love Canon. Although there were times when I shot with Nikons (D700, D300) and were pretty impressed with the result, I always came back to Canon.
This is the first is macro lens for Canon and they got it right. I have used the 60mm, 100mm, & 180mm macro before and by far this is the best!


Now, if you already own a 100mm macro you should try it before upgrading because the IQ of the lens are identical. I usually use this lens for portraits (yes, I know the 85mm & 135mm is a better portrait lens.) of my daughter and the IS is awesome. Hand holding 1/40 I can still get a sharp picture.


The thing that I really hated about the non-IS 100mm macro was the distribution of weight – it was the most awkward thing to shoot with. This lens feels lighter because of the even distribution of weight and size (gradual taper) and it includes a deep hood.


I know $1K is a hefty sum of cash, but considering what you get and how long it can last you – I don’t know why you would settle for the non-IS.”

– Peter J. C.



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

Spider macro - Photo credit Scorpio
Spider macro – Photo credit SCORPIO.


– Feeling inspired? CLICK HERE to learn more about the Canon 100mm macro lens – or the other available lenses.



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 Canon 400D? Perhaps not, but it may give you an unique angle and provide you with a breath-taking photo.

– Read more: Gorillapod – Flexible tripod


GOOD TIP: Slow camera? Improve speed and function by getting a faster memory card – read about the SanDisk Extreme 64 GB SDXC Class 10 UHS-1 Flash Memory Card 45MB/s. One of the fastest cards on the market these days.



This is the piece of equipment that allows you to shoot time lapses, long exposure photos with more than 30 seconds shutter time and also traffic trails, star lapse ++ but it is also very handy for macro photography. Why? Because it allows you to stand at a safe distance, for example when setting up your camera next to a bee hive or other creative arenas, which in turn allows you to trigger the photos with the remote or just set it to timer shooting photos every 30 seconds or so. This way you can also create a bit of a fusion between two photo techniques; “macro photography time lapse”. Wonderful stuff! Why not combine it with the use of a slider? (which gives that cool gliding effect).


We generally recommend wireless timers (to those cameras compatible). Yes, they are a bit more pricey, but the investment is well worth it. This is a great option for this model.

Read more: Satechi WTR-C Wireless Timer Remote Shutter

“Handy for taking pictures of subjects that difficult to approach with minimized vibration”

Made for:ย Canon (350D), XTi (400D), XSi (450D), XS (1000D), T1i (500D), T2i (550D), T3i (1100D), T4i (650D), T5i (700D) & Canon Powershot G1X, G10, G11, G12, G15, G16 & Pentax K7 & ELAN


– 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.

So, to summarize 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 Canon 400D’.


Lily macro - Photo credit Mahabub
Lily macro – Photo credit Mahabub


To recap, you will need:

– Macro Lens

– Tripod (optional)

– Remote controlled automatic shutter (optional)

Slider (optional)


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

– Confucius

How to macro photography with Canon 400D – What settings to use?

Once you are all set up with your equipment, the obvious question comes into effect; “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 Canon 400D’.

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 Canon 400D’.

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 100mm, like the Canon EF 100mm 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 at least 15cm, and as explained, this can be problematic.


Article: How to macro photography with Canon 400D.

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

Strawberry macro - Photo credit Virendra
Strawberry macro – Photo credit Virendra


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

– Alexander Pope


Photography glossary:

Advanced Photo System (APS): Breakthrough camera and film technology that has created a new generation of point-and-shoots, APS offers a choice of three print formats, improved photofinishing, and significant storage and reprinting conveniences.

Angle of view: The amount of a scene taken in by a particular lens focal length. Short focal lengths have a wide angle of view, allowing you to photograph a larger portion of the scene than long focal lengths, which have a narrow angle of view.

Archival: Describes any negative or print storage or display material that won’t cause the photographic image to fade, stain, or discolor over time. Acid-free materials are archival.

Autoexposure: The system with which your camera automatically sets the lens aperture and shutter speed to get the correct amount of light to the film.

Autoflash: Flash mode in which the camera automatically decides whether or not flash is needed, turning the flash on in dim light and keeping it off in bright light. It’s the default mode of most point-and-shoots.

Autofocus: Automatic focusing.

Backlight: Light coming from behind the subject. When light from behind is the main source, the subject is said to be backlit.

Backlight compensation: Adjustment of exposure to prevent the subject from turning out too dark when light is coming from behind it.

Black-and-white film: Film that reproduces the subject in shades of gray (and black and white, depending on the scene’s contrast) rather than in color. Black-and-white film is available in conventional or chromogenic versions.

Camera shake: The unwanted movement passed along to your camera by involuntary hand and body tremors, it’s a major cause of unsharp pictures.

Candid: An unposed, spontaneous photograph of a person or group of people.

Catchlights: Tiny highlights (bright spots) in a subject’s eyes, caused by reflections of the light source.

CCD (charge-coupled device): The tiny “chip” that is a digital point-and-shoot’s equivalent to film. The CCD uses rows of microscopic sensors to measure and record light energy, which is then stored digitally.

Color print film: Film designed to produce a color negative from which any number of color prints may be made.

Color saturation: The relative brilliance with which a film (or print) reproduces the subject’s colors. Films that deliver more intense colors are said to have high saturation.

Composition: The process of adjusting framing, camera position, and/or focal length to turn the subject into a visually appealing photograph.

Contrast: The degree of difference between a subject’s tones, a function of its inherent shades and colors and also of the quality of light.

Correct exposure: The specific amount of light that must strike a given film to produce the best possible picture quality.

Cropping: Masking or otherwise shaping a photographic image to change its proportions.

Default: A mode, or group of modes, that a point-and-shoot always returns to after settings are changed for a particular shot or roll.

Developing: See photofinishing.

Diffused light: Light that has been softened by cloud cover or any other translucent element.

Digital: Pertaining to computer language and operation. A digital point-and-shoot captures and stores pictures without film, for direct use in computer software and printing applications.

DX code: The bar code on the side of a 35mm film cassette that automatically tells the camera what film speed (ISO) to set for correct light metering and exposure.

Exposure: The amount of light that strikes the film when you take a picture. Also, a frame of film–enough for one shot.

Exposure compensation: Found on relatively few point-and-shoots, this capability allows you to manually alter the autoexposure for specific effects and subjects.

Exposure latitude: The range within which a film can tolerate errors in exposure and still produce acceptable results.

Exposure value: Abbreviated EV, always with a plus or minus number attached, it indicates the degree of exposure change with exposure compensation or backlight compensation–for example, +1.5 EV, โ€“0.5 EV.

Fast film: Film with a high sensitivity to light, reflected in its high ISO rating–usually ISO 400 and above.

Fill flash: (Also known as flash-on.) Flash mode in which the camera fires the flash for every shot. Fill flash can be used to soften shadows in bright outdoor light by filling them with light.

Film cassette: The small, lightproof housing in which film is supplied, and that you place in the camera to shoot. With 35mm, the film cassette is discarded after processing; with the Advanced Photo System, it’s returned to you with the processed negatives inside.

Film leader: The short, half-width strip of film extending from an unexposed 35mm cassette; must be engaged in the take-up spool for a camera to advance the film.

Film speed: The measure of a film’s sensitivity to light, film speed is indicated with an ISO number–ISO 400, for example. The higher the number, the more sensitive the film.

Film winding: (Also called film advance.) Moving a roll of film from one frame to the next for each shot, often by built-in motor.

Flash: Your point-and-shoot’s tiny but highly useful built-in light source, the flash fires in an action-stopping burst and often has several different modes.

Flash-off mode: A mode in which the flash won’t fire regardless of the light level. It may cause the camera to set a slow shutter speed.

Flash-ready lamp: A small light beside the viewfinder window or next to the viewfinder frame, it blinks when the flash is charging and glows steadily when the flash is ready to fire. Usually red or orange.

Focal length: Technical term indicating how wide or narrow a section of a scene the lens includes in a picture (angle of view), and/or how big or small it makes the subject (magnification).

Focal length range: The run of focal lengths offered by a zoom lens. It’s specified by the shortest and the longest, in millimeters–for example, 38โ€“90mm.

Focus point: Small brackets, lines, or a circle in the middle of an autofocus point-and-shoot’s viewfinder indicating where the camera is focusing.

Focus-free: (Also known as fixed-focus.) Term for point-and-shoots that have no autofocus capability. With these models, the lens’s focus is preset at a medium distance that gives reasonably sharp results with any subject about four feet away and beyond.

Focusing: In-and-out adjustment of the lens to make the main subject sharp on the film.

Focus-OK lamp: (Also called an autofocus confirmation lamp.) A small light beside the viewfinder window that blinks when the camera can’t focus a subject and glows steadily when correct focus has been achieved.

Formal: A photograph of a person or group of people made by mutual agreement, often with controlled lighting and a set-up background.

Frame: The rectangle that you see when you look through the viewfinder, used for viewing and composing the subject; or one picture’s worth of film; or that thing you put your prints in.

Frame counter: The display that tells you how many shots you’ve taken, or are left, on a roll of film. The frame counter may be located on the camera’s LCD panel or in a small separate window.

Frame lines: Light or dark lines or brackets just inside the viewfinder frame that indicate the area of the scene that will be recorded on the film. (Many point-and-shoots do not have frame lines.)

Frame numbers: Numbers printed by the manufacturer along the edges of 35mm film, or by the photofinisher on an index print or the back of a print. Frame numbers allow you to identify a particular negative for reprinting or blowups.

Grain: Tiny clumps of silver crystals that form the photographic image during film development, their pattern is sometimes visible in the print. The faster the film, the more visible the grain–but even fast films are now very fine-grained.

Hard light: Light that creates strong contrast and heavy shadows in the subject, usually from a direct source such as the sun or a lightbulb.

Icon: A symbol representing a specific mode or status, it’s displayed on the camera’s LCD panel or printed on its body.

Index print: Created by digital scanning, a print-sized sheet of tiny positive images of every shot on a roll. Used for storage, indexing, and reprinting reference.

Infinity lock: Often called landscape mode, this setting causes the camera to focus as far away as possible; especially useful to prevent misfocusing when shooting through windows.

ISO number: See film speed.

LCD (liquid crystal display) panel: Found on all but the least expensive point-and-shoot models, it indicates camera status and settings.

Lens: A cylinder of shaped pieces of glass or plastic at the front of a camera, it projects a tiny image of the subject onto the film.

Lens aperture: The window in the lens that lets light through to the film. Your point-and-shoot automatically adjusts this window’s size, called the f-stop, to control the exposure.

Light meter: The built-in device that your point-and-shoot camera uses to measure light and determine the correct exposure settings.

Light source: The immediate origin of a scene’s light, such as the sun or a window.

Locking the focus: Pressing and holding an autofocus point-and-shoot’s shutter button halfway, to prevent the camera from refocusing incorrectly with your final composition.

Long focal length: See telephoto focal length.

Midroll rewind button: Used for rewinding a roll of film before it’s finished (that is, fully exposed).

Mode: A setting that causes the camera to perform a specific function or operation.

Muddy: Term for prints that are lacking in detail, contrast, and color brilliance (often grayish or brownish).

Negative: Used to make the print, it’s the visible form a picture takes after the film is processed. A negative’s tones and (with color print film) colors are the opposite of what they were in the subject, but printing reverses them back to their original state.

Normal focal length: Focal length setting–usually around 50mm with 35mm models, 40mm with APS models–that reproduces the most natural-looking size relationships in a scene.

One-time-use camera: A model designed to shoot a single roll of film, it’s available in specialized designs, and comes in both 35mm and APS versions. You turn in the camera itself to the photofinisher when the roll is done.

Panorama mode: A setting in which the camera produces an elongated image intended for the creation of a 4 x 10- or 4 x 111/2-inch print.

Parallax error: The difference between what the lens sees and what you see through the camera’s viewfinder; especially pronounced at longer focal lengths and with closer subjects.

Photofinishing: (Also called processing.) The business of turning your exposed film into negatives (developing) and your negatives into prints (printing)–or into any other usable, visible form.

Pixels: Short for picture elements, the tilelike bits of color and tone that form a digital image.

Positive: Opposite of negative, used to describe any photographic image that reproduces the subject’s original tones and/or colors. A slide is a positive; a print is a positive.

Prefocusing: Same idea as locking the focus, but means using the technique to reduce shutter-button time lag when shooting a moving subject.

Print format: The proportions (height to width) or shape of a photographic print. The Advanced Photo System offers a choice of three print formats, selectable with a control on the camera itself.

Printing: See photofinishing.

Processing: See photofinishing.

Quartz-date: Term for point-and-shoot models with the ability to imprint the date on photographic negatives; numbers appear permanently on the front of the prints.

Random Access Memory (RAM): The amount of active digital storage in your computer, RAM must be relatively high to allow work with photographs.

Resolution: Technical term for the measurement of photographic sharpness, resolution is lower for digital point-and-shoots than film models.

Rewinding: The process of retracting a roll of exposed film into its cassette before removal from the camera. Motorized on many models, rewinding starts automatically at the end of the roll or when you press the midroll rewind button.

Scanning: The process of translating a photograph (negative or print) into an electronic form that can be used by computers.

Self-timer mode: A setting in which the camera delays taking a picture by a specified interval after you touch the shutter button.

Sharpness: The degree to which clear, distinguishable details of the subject are rendered in a photographic negative or print.

Short focal length: See wide-angle focal length.

Shutter button: The button that you press to take a picture. On autofocus cameras, the shutter button also activates and locks the focus when pressed halfway.

Shutter speed: The length of time the window in the lens stays open to let light through to the film.

Single-focal-length: Term for lenses on nonzooming point-and-shoots. Because the focal length cannot be adjusted, you can only control the sub-ject’s size in the picture by physically moving yourself and the camera in and out.

Slide film: Film designed to produce a positive transparent image of the subject on the original film itself. Mainly intended for projection or scanning rather than printing, though prints can be ordered from slides.

Slow film: Film with relatively low sensitivity to light, reflected in its lower ISO rating–usually ISO 200 and below.

Slow-sync flash: (Also known as night, night scene, or night portrait mode.) This mode combines flash with a longer shutter speed to improve background detail in low-light flash shots.

Soft light: Light that creates delicate tones and pale or minimal shadows in the subject, such as from a cloudy sky or in open shade.

Telephoto focal length: (Also called a long focal length.) A focal length setting–usually around 60mm (with APS) or 70mm (with 35mm) and beyond–at which the subject is magnified (appears bigger than normal in the frame).

Thumbnails: Small reference images of the shots on a roll, appearing in an index print or on a computer screen.

Toggling: Pressing a pushbutton repeatedly to advance through a menu of modes, in order to choose and set one.

Tungsten light: Artificial light from household bulbs (halogen is a variation).

Viewfinder: Window on the camera through which you see the rectangular frame used to view and compose your subject. (On many digital point-and-shoots the viewfinder is a TVlike color LCD screen.)

Wide-angle focal length: (Also called a short focal length.) Focal length at which the lens takes in a relatively large section of the total scene. Most point-and-shoot zoom lenses start out at a wide-angle setting (38mm, 28mm), and most nonzoom models have wide-angle lenses (35mm, 32mm).

Wide-area autofocus: (Also called multibeam or multipoint autofocus.) An autofocus system in which multiple focus points cover a wider-than-usual area in the middle of the viewfinder. Wide-area autofocus allows the camera to focus subjects that are slightly off-center without the need to lock the focus.

Zoom lens: A lens of adjustable focal length. You zoom to increase or decrease the lens’s magnifying power, making the subject bigger or smaller in the frame.

Zooming in: Setting a longer focal length on your zoom lens, to make the subject bigger in the picture.

Zooming out: Setting a shorter focal length on your zoom lens, to include more of the scene in the picture.

– Thank you to Thomas T. for sending us this photo glossary…! Much appreciated.


Photo credits: Virendra, Scorpio, E. L., Andres R., Canon promo and Wikimedia Commons.



Q: Best macro lens for Canon 400d?

A: The 100mm lens mentioned earlier in this article is one of the best you can get. Best of luck.


Q: How to do Canon 400d macro adjustment?

A: You need to adjust your settings accordingly to the surroundings / lighting around you. If that is what you meant.