To start off, let’s clarify briefly what a macro lens is and why it’s often mentioned as a key part of your product photography equipment. In essence, the main advantage of a macro lens over a more standard type of lens is its ability to focus up to a 1:1 magnification. This means that the real-life image size will be reproduced in the same size by the sensor, allowing you to focus at much closer distances than normal. This is particularly useful when you want to highlight small objects or focus on detail, such as in jewellery photography.
Are they expensive?
As with all products on the market, the prices range quite significantly for macro lenses and can cost anywhere from a few hundred pounds to over a thousand. This is in line with regular lenses and as always, as the price increases, so does the specification. Consider your budget for your product photography equipment and this will help narrow down your choices. On a more positive note, macro lenses can be used for other services than jewellery photography or another close-up product shot. For example, they can be used for portrait shots or close-ups at events.
Important to remember here is that you will want the right accessories and kit to go with this lens, so consider this when allocating money to a new macro lens.
What Lighting should be used with a macro lens?
We will often refer to lighting in our articles as one of the most important aspects of product photography and this situation is no exception. Natural light is notoriously difficult to work with at the best of times, let alone when you’re focusing on such small, detailed photoshoots. One of the best purchases you will make is a ring light, as this creates incredibly even lighting across your product, keeping the same levels for a uniform set of images.
You can also use the standard flash lighting option with your macro lens set up, which will provide a more powerful illumination and so has its uses, but you should be careful that it doesn’t provide too much light, reducing the quality of the image and taking away from the detail you’re trying to capture.
Take your time with the focus
You will be working with very small and most likely, very detailed products, particularly in the case of jewellery photography. This means that getting the focus right will make or break your images and you don’t want customers on an e-commerce store to see less than perfect product photos. The best advice we have is that at this scale the slightest adjustment can cause a drastic change in the photo, so go slow, test it out until you have the perfect settings. Most lenses have an automatic focus option but this won’t necessarily give you the best results, so as you improve, try to work on the focus manually.
To go back to our initial question – a macro lens is a vital component of any product photographers kit, particularly for smaller products like jewellery. Take your time and do the research, find the right solution for you and not simply the best on the market. Then get to know your lens, practice with it and perfect your product photos!