Macro Photography Out and About

For macro photography, dedicated macro lenses are often the obvious choice.

Macro lenses are designed specifically for close up work as they allow you to shoot at a magnification of at least one to one (sometimes even more). The downside to macro lenses is that they can be quite expensive, but there are some alternatives that you can use to take your macro shots even further.

In this photography class, Karl heads out to show you some useful tips and tricks for macro photography, including how to use speedlights for macro work, the best camera settings and focus modes and affordable equipment for beginners just starting out.

In this class:

  • Ideas and inspiration for outdoor macro photography
  • Useful equipment for macro photography
  • The best lenses for macro photography
  • How and why it’s best to work in manual focus

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Hello ,I have Sony a6400 and I can’t find any place for putting the flashgun.i wonder there’s such a place on my camera or not?

  2. nice tuto. in the past, I purchased a lensbaby 150mm by mmeory and it was amazing. Awful to focus (going back and forth as you describe) but amazing. I’d like to see tutos on flowers in vases.
    I thought about using cones for that but height of flower bouquet could be too high so looking for studio led box instead. What do you think ?

    1. Hi Marc, I don’t think cones or a tent are good for flowers as I’d prefer more contrast and texture from harder spotlights. For me I would have a low to medium global illumination and then several small fresnel spotlights or snooted lights to bring the 3dimensionality out of the petals etc.

  3. A vrai dire, je pourrais suivre les cours de Karl inlassablement, d’une part parce qu’il a un langage très clair même pour une étrangère, et d’autre part parce que tout est esthétique, les ambiances, les lumières, les photos. Et ça donne envie de tout essayer, de tout apprendre.

  4. Good advice on the Kenko brand extension tubes as they have cpu contacts for autofocus and aperture control..
    ***For Nikon owners; Nikon branded and some other extension tubes do not work with Nikon G (gelded) lenses which have the aperture ring removed as there are no cpu contacts. They will work with older D / AI lenses which have an aperture control ring on the lens body.

    1. Hi Oussama, please don’t think you need to worry about the camera settings for a certain picture as it doesn’t work that way. I could tell you that they were 1/350th of a second at f16 and that wouldn’t really help you because on a different day with different weather or different camera and ISO then it would all be different. Once you’ve mastered understanding Apertures and Shutter Speeds in our Introduction course then you will realise the settings you require. If you haven’t understood fully working in Manual please revisit that course. If I say to you what is 2 stops brighter than f16 and you don’t instantly know the answer then you need to revisit that course. If I say to you what is 3 stops darker that 1/60th of a second and you aren’t able to work it out in under 5 seconds then you need to start with our Introduction Course.

  5. Karl, Why the MP-E 65mm lens is more expensive than EF-S 60mm and 100mm Macro lens?
    Really, that lens is the best?
    What´s the difference about them?

    I´m from Brazil

    1. Hi Marcio, it’s not really better, I also really like the 100mm macro but the MPE-65 can create a much greater magnification.

  6. Hi Karl. Thank you for this usefull video. I’d have some question.
    First. I have an Entry level, Nikon D3300 with 18-55 lens and I’d need to do some macro food photo. I have no economic possibilities to buy macro lenses. Could you please advise me which extension tube to use to simulate Macro lenses for my camera?
    Second. What do you mean by “set your focus point to the desired distance on the lens”? Or something like that, since I’m not very good in English.
    Thank you for your infinite availability

    1. Hi, I would look at Kenko extension tubes. I meant just focus manually and then move your camera back and forwards until the subject is in focus.

  7. Fun video. I really enjoyed it. I felt like I was in that field of flowers on this cold November 30th day here in New York.

  8. Hi Karl! How do I get to know if the extension tube allows you to control lens aperture? Since none of them appears to have contacts.

    Thank you!

    I am loving your web site!

    1. Hi Abner, if they have the electronic contacts to allow the signal to run through then they should be fine. For example I use the Kenko extension tubes on my Canon and they are inexpensive and work perfectly.

  9. Just used flash with macro lens outdoors and with serious intent for the first time last week. I used two cheap Yongnuo transcievers rather than the cable, the biggest difference I saw was the difference in sharpness. Normally I get about 50/50 good sharpness due to the wind, even when using a plamp. But everything was incredible sharp. I don’t think I will go out without one again.

  10. Hi Karl, Another question on cheaper alternatives to a macro lens, what are your views on reversing rings?

  11. Will extension tubes only work on standard lenses? Is there a limit to what size of lens they would be effective on?

    1. Hi Peter, they work on any lens with varying degrees of success, for example on wide angle lenses the focus point often becomes too close but can give some interesting results.

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