Macro Photography Tips – Using a Canon Rebel

I am big into macro photography. It’s what got me hooked on photography in the first place.

I will never forget the picture. In fact, it’s still on the wall of my office. It’s nothing spectacular to anyone else, but to me, it’s very special. It is the hook that wouldn’t let go. And even though it was taken with a simple little 3-megapixel Olympus point and shoot camera, I felt like a pro when I saw it in print.

First digital photo

This photo is not a true “macro photo,” by definition. However, it is somewhat close up, and I had the camera on the macro setting. What captured my attention was the colors and the texture.

I have now graduated to a more sophisticated camera, a Canon Rebel. In fact I have more than one Rebel (you know this if you have read some of my other posts).

Here is a photo I took early this morning using the photography tip outlined below:

Macro photo using Canon Rebel T3i
Click on the photo to see some awesome detail.

The key to the photography tip I am about to share with you is that it can be done with any Canon Rebel newer than a T2i. That means if you have a T3i, T4i, T5i, T3, or SL1, you can do this. There may be other cameras that have the Live View feature I discuss in this article, but I am not sure which ones do, so I am limited to the Rebel lineup in my recommendations for a camera.

Here is a brief outline of the technique:

  1. Set your camera on a tripod – absolutely necessary for this to work well.
  2. Choose the aperture (Av) setting on the top mode dial.
  3. Use the top dial to choose an aperture – for macro, a higher number like f/9.0 or f/22 is usually the right choice rather than a lower number (in the video, I used f/9.0)
  4. Find the little switch on your lens and move it off AF (auto focus) to Manual focus
  5. Change your Drive Mode to Self-timer, either 2 seconds or 10 seconds.
  6. Activate “Live View”
  7. Use the focus ring on your lens to get the focus as close as possible.
  8. Press the zoom button once or twice to enlarge the Live View preview by 5x or 10x respectively.
  9. Fine tune the focus using the focus ring on your lens while the digital zoom is at 5x or 10x.
  10. Press the shutter button and wait for the timer to record your image.

Please note: the picture will be captured at full size (the way it looks before you press the 5x or 10x zoom button). It will not be the image you see in the zoom window. This has confused some folks who think that “what you see is what you get.” The zoom feature is merely to allow you to fine-tune your focus.

This video explains the whole process..

Sample shots from the Canon Rebel T3i – Macro Photography

Canon Rebel T3i - Macro Photography with Sigma 105mm lens
Sunflower image taken with a Canon Rebel T3i – Macro Photography with Sigma 105mm lens
Canon Rebel T3i - Macro Photography with Kit Lens
Sunflower image taken with a Canon Rebel T3i – Macro Photography with Kit Lens

Notice in the photos above that one of them was taken with a true macro lens and the other was taken with the kit lens. It is obvious that a macro lens is far better than the kit lens, although, I must admit that the newer STM kit lens is much better than the older one.

There is, however, an option for transforming your normal lens, including the kit lens, into a macro-type lens. It involves lens accessories.

  1. First, you can use extension tubes. These come in a variety of packages, but if you get Fotodiox tubes, they are less than $15. The problem is that they do not allow the camera to auto-focus, but since you are following the advice above, you will be using manual focus anyway, so go for it!

canon rebel t3i macro filters
Close-Up Macro Filter Set
for kit lens (58mm)

  1. Second, you can get some very inexpensive lens filters that will transform your normal non-macro lens into a close-up lens. Just make sure you get the right size so that it will screw onto the lens you plan to use. The Rebel T3i Kit lens takes a 58mm filter.

There is still another option. Recently, I posted a “macro photography tips” article about how you can capture macro images without a macro lens; you simply reverse your regular lens. This is the cheapest method for close ups.

Hopefully, these macro photography tips will give you something to think about next time you shoot.