What is macro photography? Well, have you seen the extreme closeup shots of insects, moss, animals, etc.? Basically, that type of photography is called macro. Macro photography is a beautiful branch of photography. It lets the viewer see what the photographer perceives in the tiniest of objects in our nature. It is like magic! Imagine viewing something very common yet feeling as if you are seeing it for the first time. Some of you might be familiar with this style and know what I’m talking about, but for those newbies try guessing what is this thing in the image below!
Macro photography involves special gear and a lot of practice with the camera. Many images which are claimed to be macro are just close-ups! Actual macro subjects need to be about the same size as your camera’s sensor. But let’s not go into the details, the point is you need to have some extra gear other than your usual lens and tripod for macro photography. A tripod suited for macro photography must be flexible, stable and light. Keeping those in mind, let’s discuss some of the best tripods for macro photography.
Vanguard’s Alta Pro 263 is an old player and will continue to dominate the list until a better one comes up. This is because of its unmatched flexibility. The possibilities of shooting with this tripod are endless and for macro photography, that is a desirable option. From ultra-low angles to a max height of 5.67′ (1.73 m), this tripod is a good deal!. The central column is the primary attraction, it can swivel a full 180 horizontally and also can turn upside down for that low angle.SPECS
Max. Height: 68″ (172cm) | Folded Length: 28″ (71cm) | Load Capacity: 15.4lbs (7kg) | Weight: 5.38lbs (2.44kg) | Bubble Level: Yes | Warranty: 2yrs
The tripod comes with a carrying case and has a couple of variants. The carbon fiber one is better than the aluminum one in terms of stability and vibration dampening, but it is a bit expensive. The tripod has a variety of heads to choose from. For macro photography, I prefer using a ball head because it allows me to rotate my camera without bounds, a definite plus! The rubber spiked feet, hook and the bubble level is all welcome additions, though the flip locks are a bit flimsy. Watch this video to know what I mean by the top class flexibility.
The Dolica is a fairly new company based in California, USA. Their AX620B100 ProLine model is by the far the most popular aluminum tripod. It has a lot of positive reviews on the internet because of its high value to cost ratio. The tripod is flexible enough for low angle photography, thanks to its removable central column. The tripod is fairly reasonable and is a great option for people who are starting out in macro photography.SPECS
Max. Height: 62″ (157cm) | Folded Length: 22″ (55cm) | Load Capacity: 13.2lbs (6kg) | Weight: 2.9lbs (1.3kg) | Bubble Level: Yes
The tripod comes with a ball head attached in a nice carrying case. The tripod’s performance gets noticeably bad with heavy equipment and you might need to add some counterweights. Personally, I feel that the construction of this tripod can be improved which will enhance its performance. But all in all, it’s a great option to start with.
When we talk about flexibility, there is no denying that Joby is the king. The Gorillapod are leading products in the industry and in my opinion the perfect tripod for macro work. They are small, lightweight, extremely flexible and has tons of potential. The 3K version is a bit bigger one and can easily support professional cameras with macro lenses. The exact load capacity is 6.6lbs (3kgs). You can mount it, fix it, wrap it or just use it as a normal tripod, it won’t let you down. The tripod comes with a ball head and a quick release plate. It is made of medical grade abs-plastic and has rubber grips along the legs. Read my full review on Joby Gorillapod.
The Neewer mini tripod is the best mini/desktop tripod right now in the market. The build quality is exceptional and don’t be fooled by its small size. It can support a solid 5kg of equipment. When folded it measures just 9″ (23cm) and someone can easily mistake for a 70-300mm lens within its carrying pouch. The thick aluminum alloy tubes and the ball head are of good quality.
The reason that this tripod is in this list is its compactness. Long legs are problematic sometimes and they take longer to set up. Since it is so small, you can easily carry it around and deploy it whenever needed for that really nice close-ups. The non-slip rubber feet and bubble level add to its appeal among macro photographers. Click here to read more about mini tripods.
Bonus Trick: How to use any lens as a Macro lens?
Okay, here’s a little bonus for all you people out there. Now people who are into macro photography might know this but did you know you use almost any lens as a macro lens. I know that macro lenses don’t come cheap so this little trick might come in handy to all the budding photographers. Let’s begin
1. Buy a reverse ring (will cost you around $25 or so. These are lens specific, so check the diameter of your filter thread cause that’s where it will go.
2. Mount the reverse ring onto the camera.
3. Make sure to use wide angle lenses-yes! This is because all the lens mechanisms are going to be reversed, so a wide angle will compress everything incoming.
4. Now you won’t be able to use your camera to set aperture and AF that’s because the camera’s contacts aren’t connected to the lens.
5. For manual lenses, like the Nikkor 50mm 1.8D, aperture control is on the outside, so you can adjust the aperture, but for the newer lenses, mount the lens w/o the reverse ring, then set the desired aperture. Press the AE-lock button and simultaneously unmount the lens. Now use the reverse ring.
6. Use manual focus and a flash to get those really nice closeups. You will notice that you can get extremely close up to the subject and thus, you are cutting the light out. Use the built-in flash or a separate unit.
Watch this video for a more in-depth knowledge
Macro photography can be very challenging at times if you do not have the right gear. A good tripod is one of them. As you can see, you can make do with any of the lenses at the beginning but a good tripod will always come in handy. This genre of photography comes with practice because composition plays a major role. You cannot just point and shoot here. What to include and what not so that the picture is meaningful, is something which comes over time.
Well, that’s my take on the best tripods for macro photography. If you have any questions or queries feel free to drop them in the comments section below and I’ll be more than happy to answer them.