How to Shoot Super Macro Photos

Before you get into the “how to”, here's a brief explanation of what macro is. It’s basically close-up photography where the image projected on the camera sensor is relatively the same size as your subject. Macro photographers give this term a ratio of 1:1. Most standard macro lenses give you up to 1:1 ratio. As for super macro, depending on your lens combination, you can usually get a ratio of 2:1 or greater. What this means is that your sensor sees closer than the human eye which leads to some unusual photography. Here's what you need to achieve super macro photos:


  • A macro lens (ideally a prime lens)
  • A fast lens (ideally a prime lens with f1.8 or f1.4)
  • A step-down ring
  • A portable flash
  • A tripod

The reasons why you should use prime lenses is that they’re the sharpest lenses and when you’re staking that much glass in front of your sensor, things tend to go soft very fast. The step-down ring should match your lenses’ respective diameters. There are other ways to setup for super macros, some use extension tubes or teleconverters, but to keep it simple.


Step 1: Put the macro lens on the camera (in this case it’s the Sigma 105mm)

Step 2: Make sure your lens is on manual focus

Step 3: Screw the step-down ring onto the macro lens

Step 4: Turn the aperture dial on your fast lens (in this case it’s the Nikkor 50mm) to it’s widest setting (smallest f-stop #). You'll need as much light as possible getting in.

Step 5: Screw the front of the fast lens onto the front of the macro lens.

Step 6: Put your camera on manual focus

The reason why the tripod and the flash is added in the equipment list is that, since there isn't a lot of light making it to the sensor, you’ll either need a long shutter speed or more light.

You’ll notice that your depth of field (DOF) is extremely small (roughly 1 or 2mm) so things get blurry very fast. Make sure your subject isn’t moving or else you’ll be out of focus. If you insist on doing this hand held, exhale before you press the trigger… you might get lucky.

Being so close and having such a small DOF is a great combination for fun abstract photography. Use your imagination and have fun!. As for the flash, you’ll have to trigger it off camera because of the length of the combined lenses and the proximity of the subject to the lenses. 

Join The Mailing List To Recieve Free Updates!

Back Next