Macrophotography, also sometimes known as close focus photography, is one of the most fun forms of photography to do. There is just something about seeing that small world made large that creates a sense of wonder and excitement in an image.
Macro photography is high magnification work, so a reliable tripod can make the difference between getting a usable image and the image being blurry due to camera movement or focus issues. Having a tripod that has features useful for close up work is to be preferred, that’s for sure.
How to capture stunning macro photos
With current DSLR cameras, macro photography is easier than ever. There are still some tips and tricks that can improve the results.
Limitations include distortion and lack of edge sharpness. A lens designed with close focusing ability will generally have better optical performance up close than a regular lens and filters. A true macro lens is specifically designed to excel at close focus distances.
Using a longer than normal lens allows for a little more freedom of use. A longer lens, telephoto, will bring the subject up close while maintaining a comfortable working distance. With certain macro subjects, this can be a great advantage.
Faster shutter speeds are helpful to eliminate camera shake or subject movement, but that means needing to use a faster, more wide open, f-stop. The problem with that can be that their might not be enough depth of field at that fast lens aperture.
Ringlights are another tool that can improve the chances of getting stunning macro images. Up close, everything is magnified, no pun intended. Lighting requirements demand both proper technique and adequate tools.
Subject matter can also make the difference between a nice snap shot and a beautiful macro image. Some subjects are simply more interesting ultra close than others are. Take the time to search out macro photography subjects that you enjoy. Make the most of the opportunity to try out new methods, too.
Choosing the right tripod is another tip for good macro photography.
How I found the best tripod for macro photography
- One of the primary reasons for using a tripod is for stability. In macro photography, stability means more than merely holding the camera rig still. It also means lack of vibration. Vibration occurs when setting up any tripod, but for macro use, you want that vibration to be dampened as quickly as possible.
- Leg adjustments. Because of the nature of macro photography, being able to independently adjust leg angles helps make capturing the image a little more simple. Especially when shooting macro subjects outdoors on uneven ground.
- Tripod head. A good ball and socket head is many macro photographer’s first choice. A three way head could also be advantageous. Even a fluid head isn’t out of the question if attempting close up videography.
- For macro photography, it is essential to be as versatile as possible. Being able to extend high enough for a variety of subjects increases versatility. Size also matters when considering portability.
- Portability is important when choosing a macro photography tripod since many macro subjects are in nature. Imaging them might require a bit of a walk or even a hike.
- Special Features. Because of special features, some tripods are better suited for macro use than others. Quick release plates, rapid action leg locks, adjustable center columns all fall under this category.
Top 5 Best Tripods For Macro Photography!
1. Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 Aluminum Tripod Kit Review
Extremely versatile and very stable, this moderately priced tripod has some specialized features that make it a one of the best tripods for macro photography.
Maximum height is 68 inches and it collapses to a small enough size to carry with a case, straps, on a backpack, or attached to a camera bag. Weighing a little over five pounds, it is portable enough to be taken anywhere with ease.
The ball and socket head is heavy duty and operates very smoothly. The quick release is strong and secure, able to hold larger, heavier camera rigs. So, whether using smaller APS-C format cameras or the bigger full frame and premium equipment, this head is up to the job.
What really makes this tripod useful for macro photography are the special features.
A center column that swings out into a horizontal configuration is the biggest special feature. The Multi-Angle Central Column (MACC) system allows you to move the central column from zero to 180° angles in various vertical and horizontal positions, enhancing the macro photo capabilities.
With the combination of the multi angle center column and the multi angle positioning of the legs, macro shots from ground level up to full height are possible. A great tripod for any use, it is almost perfect for macro use.
2. ZOMEI Camera Tripod 72″ Monopod/Tripod Review
This tripod also has horizontal positioning of the center column, plus it adds the versatility of being convertible to a monopod. Also moderately priced, it is a good choice for anyone needing a lot of different things from their one tripod.
The tripod to monopod conversion is easy to accomplish. Unscrew the spring-loaded hook, pull out the center column, unscrew one leg, and screw the center column into the leg. With the ball and socket head, it now operates like any other decently sized monopod.
It is a sturdy camera perch for virtually any rig you might have. The ball and socket head with quick release is fully capable as well.
One of the nice things about having a tall tripod for general use is comfort of use. Stooping down over and over can play havoc on a back. After carrying a full load of equipment for a distance, cramping and spasming back muscles might need a break.
Using the adjustable center column is wonderful for the special needs of ultra close up photography. This tripod, center column, and ball head can position your camera and lens in whatever orientation is required to capture that perfect image.
3. BONFOTO B690A Alloy Tripod Review
For smaller DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, this lower price tripod has a decent working height of 55 inches and a compact folded size for travel. At only 2 ½ pounds, this tripod can go almost anywhere you need it to go.
Since it is smaller, lighter, and has a lot of sections, this tripod is not as inherently stable as larger units. To combat that possible problem, there is a hook under the center column for adding stabilizing weights like a sand bag.
Leg angles adjust independently and can lower the rig all the way to almost ground level. This is one of the better travel tripods for general use and is great for macro work. Both of those recommendations are for smaller cameras, large rigs might be a little unbalanced.
Its supplied ball and socket head is really nice. Besides the super strong quick release system, another plus is that the operation of the head movements is velvety smooth. A nice touch is the panorama marks on the base of the head.
4. ZOMEi Z669C Portable Carbon Tripod Monopod Review
Very compact, it reaches 60 inches in height and still collapses down to a super compact 15 inches with the legs reversed around the center column.
Made of carbon fiber, this tripod is very sturdy while being extremely lightweight.
It features 5-section twist-lock legs, allowing you to effortlessly adapt to uneven terrain. The rubber feet retract to expose a metal spike that helps ensure stability on different surfaces.
This moderate price tripod also converts to a very capable monopod. Carbon fiber is used to make a lot of hiking sticks, this monopod can double as one.
Weighing only 3 ½ pounds, this is a great choice for active photographers wanting versatility, light weight, stability, and virtually vibration free set up and use.
5. Manfrotto MK290XTA3-2WUS 290 Xtra Tripod Review
This tripod comes with a fluid head optimized for video use, but it can also be used for general photography and macro photography.
Made of durable and lightweight aluminum, this tripod has independently adjustable leg angles with flip lock levers for extending or collapsing the leg sections.
A fluid head is advantageous for any video use, this particular fluid head is a fine example of one. It is very robust and operates almost effortlessly to capture video or still images.
Many of the new digital SLRs and mirrorless cameras have excellent video capabilities. A fluid head like this one allows for regular videography and is stable and smooth for extreme close up. If you want to adapt this tripod for other specific uses, Manfrotto makes awesome 3 way and ball and socket heads.
This tripod is also sturdy enough to hold a camera slider. With a slider and the fluid head, this tripod will help you make close up videos that could rival the nature shows you see on TV.
Maximum height is 66 inches and it is versatile enough to set up for almost use a photographer might envision. At about 6 pounds, it is light enough to carry to any location. One of the better choices for anyone needing a a tripod for both video and still imagery.
When it comes down to it, any of these tripods are great contenders for macrophotography. If you’d like to learn more about macro, you can check out my mega guide on some awesome macrophotography tips that will wow people! If you like to lean more about tripods, I recommend checking out my post on great Manfrotto tripods which are also great for closeup photos.