WITH CALLUM MCINERNEY-RILEY
1. Pick the right lens
If you want to shoot macro, the right lens is one of the most important things. Without a decent close-focusing distance and a long-enough focal length, it will be hard to get close enough to small subjects to magnify them correctly. Thankfully, there’s a heap of brilliant Olympus lenses and adapters to choose from. The 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 kit zoom lens has a macro mode that allows users to focus just 20cm from a subject. Also, the 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens boast a similarly brilliant close-focusing specification and has the bonus of a wide aperture. The lens of choice for many specialist macro photographers is the Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8, but many also use macro adapters to improve the macro capabilities of their existing lenses. The MCON-P01 or MCON-P02 will allow users to magnify the vast majority of Olympus lenses.
Compatibility can be viewed on the website:
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ kit lens
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro
2. Use a tripod
As your subjects are going to be highly magnified, movements from your camera can cause motion blur. To help prevent this from happening, get the camera stabilised on a sturdy tripod. Many macro shots are taken near ground level so a tripod that can get really low is a big bonus.
Many macro photographers also use a macro rail, which allows them to make micro adjustments by sliding the camera forwards or sideways by a few millimetres, instead of needing to refocus or move the tripod all the time.
3. Shoot the camera remotely
With long focal lengths above 120mm (35mm equivalent), it’s easy to jog the camera by pressing the shutter, which again causes motion blur, especially if your shutter speed is slower than 1/100sec. There are options in the shooting menu to use the self-timer, but I find the easiest way is to shoot the camera remotely. Using the Olympus Image Share app on a smartphone or tablet, I can fire the shutter when I want without ever needing to touch the camera – which means it should be perfectly still for every shot.
4. Use some continuous light
If you’re after a faster shutter speed to freeze the subject or simply want images to look more dynamic, then off-camera lighting is highly recommended. With a static subject, flashes are brilliant, but for the more versatile adaptive shooting, I find continuous lighting much easier to work with. A simple light from a torch or a small LED panel is usually all that’s needed to achieve a great shot.
5. Get a helping hand
Sometimes it’s very difficult to achieve the shots you want in the location you want to shoot. One really handy bit of kit is a tripod clamp. By simply attaching a flower or other piece of plant matter to the tripod clamp, you can offer a great place for bugs and insects to land, and it can also be used to pose flowers or, for that matter, any other macro subject.
6. Zoom in to focus in live view
If you’re shooting with a long focal length and a wide aperture, you’re probably going to have a wafer-thin depth of field that will need very precise focusing. Shooting in live view, manually focusing and zooming in is a great way to check exactly what you’re shooting with unrivalled accuracy. Also, in this situation, turning on focus peaking can be a big help.