Equipment Tips

by Johan J Ingles-Le Nobel
Last updated August 31, 2017


Sometimes the macro gear just doesn't want to do what you want it to do but there are a few tips and tricks which have been useful to me to help you get what you want.

Bellows Portraits


Pentax-M series bellows, an old 1970s piece of equipment that is beautifully crafted and still gives an excellent performance almost 50 years later. The removable bellow is worthy of note, as it means you can add a Raynox to add an infinite tube very easily. Add a short extension tube to use in portrait orientation.

Aaaargh. You want a stack in portrait orientation but the bellows set gets in the way. There's a simple way to obtain portrait orientation out of a bellows set, though. All you have to do is add the smallest extension tube onto the bellows, and to fit your camera that way. Adding an extension tube like this gives enough clearance to mount the camera at any angle you like without the pentaprism being blocked by the bellows set.

Field Manoeuvrability

Folk most commonly use a flash bracket with a flash rigged on this angled towards the subjects for their extreme macro, but having tried and tested various brackets I ended up using horizontal flash setup and I've found that this gives me lovely manoeuvrability into the tricky areas that you want to get into when you're out and about doing your thing. With a horizontal flash, batteries also last longer and the flash duration is shorter.

Reverse Lens Greyness

Folk often report an overall greyness to their image or lack of contrast when using a reversed lens. This is almost always due to stray light bouncing into your glass and there's a very simple way to cure this using a DIY hood.

Choosing A Macro Brand

Canon MP-E65 extreme macro lens

The Canon MP-E 65mm lens is without peer in the extreme macro world, zooming from 1:1 to 5:1 in a single lens. No other brand has a lens like it, which is the first of various reasons why the Canon system comes out top for extreme macro.

A last macro tip for those of you that would like to spend a lot more time doing extreme macro and are just at the stage of starting out on a camera brand. We all like our own brands as we've spent a lot of money investing in it, and people tend to be quite defensive recommending another marque. So as a Pentax user it is with a frisson of regret that I really do have to point as Canon as the best brand for extreme macro. I can think of at least 5 reasons why Canon is best for extreme macro, but I bet there are even more. That said, much of the equipment that we use is brand-agnostic and uses all sorts of adapters to be able to fit on any brand, but Canon does some of the handiest gear right out of the box and by going Canon you'll save yourself quite a lot of grief.

Extreme Macro Lenses

In a sense this whole website is about extreme macro equipment tips, and I'd urge folk starting out to have a good read of the lenses section of the site. Some of the most useful extreme macro equipment tips can be found in the macro close up lenses pages, for example reversed lenses for extreme macro, using reversed enlarger lenses, using microscope objectives, niche extreme macro lenses and Canon MP-E 65 on any brand.