Extreme Macro Camera Gear

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


Thankfully, with the exception of the lenses and flashes used for extreme macro, other extreme macro accessories are usually quite a bit cheaper to purchase, and much of the equipment can also be found on eBay.

Some items are complete luxuries, like the field monitor, which I originally purchased to be able to focus better on long exposure star trails, but other items like a good macro tripod are a staple item that almost every macro photographer will want to buy somewhere along the way.

The Gear We Use

Extension tubes

3rd party extension tubes, not the most complex of accessories but a great way into the world of extreme macro.

The vertical lines at the back are the conductors for the contacts. For some brands full aperture reading extension tubes are quite hard to find, and you have to look at old 3rd party models like this Kenko set. Extension tubes can also be used to solve the portrait problem.

If you intend to lay your flash horizontally then an adjustable shoe mount is a must. Various types are available and some are better than others.

Macro extension tubes will give you a bit of added magnification, like a fixed set of bellows. Macro extension tubes are not the most complex of accessories but a great way into the world of extreme macro. Look for some that have electrical and aperture contacts, or splash out £10 on a cheap no frills ebay set to get you started.

A nice right angled eyepiece that lets you put your camera in at weird angles but also lets you look through the eyepiece from above is a very nice item to have in the bag, as it obviously makes the focusing all that much easier. Obviously articulated screens on newer DSLRs make this somewhat redundant but even then it's sometimes preferable to use one of these right angled finders rather than the screen.

Start With a Solid Foundation

A decent flash bracket is a must if you're going to be balancing your expensive new flash on it. Don't skimp on this because the cheap ones are nasty and flimsy. Vintage 'wouldn't break even if hit by a thermonuclear device' is often better.


DP7 field monitor. A luxury that is nice to have for critical focusing, but by no means remotely necessary.

If you don't want to use the anybrand MP-E 65, you can still obtain variable magnification by using a focusing helicoid, which is like an extension tube that can contract and expand.

And whilst you're at it, you may want to make sure that the last shot you take has a bigger depth of field so that you have a nice transition between in focus and out of focus. The M42 iris is your friend.

You can hold stems and leaves perfectly still using one of various holding tools that are available. Plamps are popular, but helping hands can also be called into service.

Adapters are a way of life for the extreme macro photographer, so finding a decent and well priced adapter source is a great help.

Lastly, tripods, which if you buy right, you only ever need to buy once. Go for a rock solid heavy tripod, not a lightweight one. There are special macro tripods that make those low perspectives much easier, but you could always just make yourself a macro beanbag as well.