One of my big interests with photography is macro. For those who don't know what this is I'll explain.
Macro photography is all about capturing images of very small things and you don't have to look far to find interesting things. The world around us looks very different when you get up close and it can be like exploring a whole new planet once you start to look.
For the photographer there are several ways of exploring this world and the costs vary. If you are just wanting to dabble in this area you can buy extension tubes which work with all your lenses. These tubes have no glass in them and just act as a spacer between camera and lens. The increase in distance between the lens and the camera sensor makes it possible to focus on objects at a much shorter distance.
The next option is to buy close-up filters. These are glass filters that screw onto the front of your lens. The disadvantage is that different lenses have different diameter front elements so you either need to buy filters for each lens or buy the largest you can get and then buy step up rings. This is a good system but the quality may not be fantastic. After all you are putting a cheap piece of glass in front of a possible expensive lens. To me its just like taking photographs through a window.
The final and best option is a dedicated macro lens. The downside is that this is the most expensive option but if you are going to be doing a lot of macro photography it is well worth the investment. Of course, a macro lens is not just for macro photography it is also a good prime lens. Just in case you don't know a prime lens has a fixed focal length, no zoom. They are often much sharper than a zoom lens but of course you are working with a fixed focal length.
Although you can achieve stunning results with all of these techniques macro photography is by no means easy. Working so close to your subject can cause you all sorts of problems with depth of field as the closer you get the shallower it becomes. The main problem is capturing enough light to maintain fast shutter speeds. Of course this doesn't matter if you are using a tripod.
The shot below of a dandelion clock was taken using a dedicated macro lens, a Sigma 105mm. I actually used a close-up filter in combination with the macro lens which is something I don't usually do. On this occasion I just wanted to be able to focus at a slightly shorter distance.
I hope this post is useful and if you have any questions you can always contact me and I'll help if I can.