I am constantly being asked what gear I use when shooting – what is my macro photography setup for my Nikon camera? And while I am a total Nikon Fangirl, I am not above giving Canon its props.
Actually, I have to admit, these days you can achieve great results with almost any decent digital camera, and I have seen some amazing shots on Instagram with nothing more than an iPhone and a clip on lens.
The problem with the cheaper digital cameras comes when you move from displaying your work on the internet, to actually printing the photos. But even that line is starting to blur as more “starter” cameras ramp up the pixel count and other features.
The following is a photo of how my setup looks. It seems a little intimidating at first, but this setup produces amazing results. Also, if you look at the extreme close-up flash adapters, you may notice I have them on backwards. I use them more as a flash diffuser than for extreme close-up work. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your gear. I am constantly tweaking my setup to get better results.
I shoot with the Nikon D3X. With 24.5 mp, this beast is perfect for macro work. All those pixels let you crop in super close, which can be important for macro photography. Often the subject takes up a tiny portion of the photo, so you may need to crop to get the details. I realize the price is a bit steep, but for me, it has earned every bit of that $7500.00+ back. It fits my hands perfectly and everything is easily within reach. It is a bit heavy, but you quickly get used to the weight.
Entry Level Camera
I can understand that the D3X might be too expensive. If your price range is more around $1,000 – like mine was when I started with a DSLR – take a look at the Nikon D7100. Truth be told, it is more about the lenses you are using than the camera body you are shooting with. The D7100 is lighter weight, and it accepts the new WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter, which lets you use your mobile device as a wireless remote! It does have a smaller sensor than the D3x, but that can actually be beneficial in macro shooting.
I’m a Nikon girl. But if you prefer a Canon setup, here is a comparable version. The 70D is in the same neighborhood price wise, and it is also has a smaller sensor and almost as many pixels as the D7100. I really like the flip out screen which makes taking those on the ground (but upsidedown macro shots) MUCH easier.
My primary lens is the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G ED IF AF-S VR. Almost all of the pictures you see on this site, on my Instagram feed, etc, have been taken with this lens, so you can see what it’s capable of. This lens has done some heavy duty shooting for me and always performs well. While not as sharp around the edges as I would like, I really can’t complain. Pair the 105 with the R1C1 Flash System and you get great results.
I have also just purchased the Nikon 200mm f/4.0D ED-IF AF Micro-Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
I cannot wait to get this lens out in the field!
Canon Equivalent Lens
The Canon macro equivalent would be EF 100mm f/2.8 IS Macro USM. I have never used this lens but it reviews well and examples of photos shot with it are admirable. Many of the insect macro photographers I admire use this lens with great results.
The R1C1 Flash System has worked pretty well for me. It doesn’t have the output to light up much more than a couple of feet away, but if you are shooting macro, there is really no need. I am actually thinking of purchasing a third flash head to add to the two that come with the set up. My hope is to be able to increase my DOF just a bit more. This lighting system is super versatile and extremely easy to use.
I am proud to announce Amazon has taken me on as an affiliate.
“Karla Thompson is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.”
What this means is if you click through to Amazon via one of my links and make a purchase, they give me a small fee that helps me pay for my website at no extra cost to you. Thanks Amazon!!