09.09.2015

Taking a Closer Look at the Macro Lens

09.09.2015

Taking a Closer Look at the Macro Lens

This is the fifth installment of the eight-part series of posts on Manfrotto’s KLYP System.  Here are links to previous posts:

Part 1: Overview of Attachment Lenses

Part 2: Taking a closer look at the Fisheye Lens

Part 3: Taking a closer look at the Wide Angle Lens

Part 4: Taking a closer look at the Telephoto Lenses

This post will be taking a closer look at both of Manfrotto’s Macro lens.

What is Macro Photography?

In simple terms, it is close-up photography.  The minimum focusing distance of an iPhone 6 lens without any attachment (4.15mm with a fixed aperture of f2.2) is roughly 2 ½ to 3 feet.  This means that ‘right out of the box’ you can get as close as 2 ½ to 3 feet from the subject you are shooting.  Technically speaking, this isn’t true ‘macro’ photography, but rather ‘close up’ photography.  Macro is when the size of the photography (projected onto the sensor via the lens) is equal to or greater than the actual size of the subject itself.

For example, if the subject being captured in the photograph is life size, or the same size as the photograph, then we refer to the ratio as 1:1.  If, on the other hand, the subject being captured in the photograph is 10 times larger, then we refer to this ratio as 10:1.  The KLYP macro is a 10x magnification.  It means that you area able to photograph your subject 10 times larger than it actually is.  Make sense?

Tech Challenges with Macro

I think it’s fair to say that everyone reading this post would agree that macro photography can lead to some pretty visually interesting images.  That said, with this type of photography, also comes some tech challenges – namely insufficient ‘depth of field’ (DOF).

In macro, the DOF depends on two primary factors – aperture value and image magnification.  At any given aperture value (iPhone has a fixed aperture of 2.2) the higher the magnification ratio, the smaller the depth of field.  This explains why, when using macro attachments with your iPhone, you only get fractional DOF and most of the time, that DOF is extreme.  That won’t work for every subject you shoot, but it does work well when shooting macro of flowers.  As a matter of fact, I would even suggest that using a macro with your iPhone camera heightens and exaggerates the overall look, mood, feel and color palette of most flower.

flower1

flower2

flower3

flower4

flower5

How KLYP Macro Lens Stands Up to Other Macro Lenses
Pretty darn good. In my personal testing for this post, I found the KLYP macro to be superior to all the OlloClip macro lenses and pretty comparable, in edge-to-edge sharpness, with the Moment 10x lens. I did no compare to the iPro macro lens because it’s only 2.5x.

chart

Seashells by the Seashore
When it comes to shooting mobile macro, 10x is my choice of magnification. It’s perfect for so many subjects. It’s not crazy close and doesn’t risk making your subjects appear abstract (like to OlloClip 14x, 15x, and 21x). It also gives you a lot more firepower than the iPro 2.5x macro lens.

I love shooting my macro on a white background. It simplifies the compositions and eliminates distractions. It focuses your attentions where it should be – on the subject you are shooting.

Also note, when shooting small objects on a white background, you’ll most often want to ‘over expose’ (brighten) by a full stop. It also doesn’t hurt to use a camera app (I use Camera+). This allows me to independently set and lock my white balance for every shot I take. Again, this is especially useful when shooting on white backgrounds, as the camera usually defaults to a ‘cooler’ color palette and I like my shots a bit ‘warmer’.

shell1

shell2

shell4

shell5

 

Tips for Shooting Macro Photography with your iPhone and KLYP Macro Lenses 

  1. Don’t let your shadow get in the way – It’s important that you find an angle that won’t cast your shadow on the subject.
  1. Steady as she goes – you need a lot of light to shoot macro photography. Otherwise you run the risk of your final images looking soft and blurry.  Steady things out with a small tabletop tripod.  My favorite one is the Manfrotto Pixi Mini (post coming up on this soon 🙂 ).
  1. Indirect Light – When you’re shooting a macro magnification, I like to avoid, if possible, direct lighting on my subject.  I opt instead for indirect lighting (which you can usually find near a widow or outside in open shade).

Don’t Just Shoot One Shot

Shooting macro, especially in iPhone photography, is a fickle experience.  Sometimes, you nail it on the first shot.  Other times, it takes dozens of shots to get a keeper.  So, it’s better to be safe than sorry and shoot a whole range of shots – at different exposures (exposure bracketing), or different focus points (focus bracketing), and at different white balance settings (white balance bracketing).

Don’t Touch That Screen

If you are shooting on a small tripod and want to minimize your chances of image blur, than don’t touch the screen to trigger your shutter.  Instead, use the volume buttons on the Apple ear buds to act as a remote shutter trigger.  You’ll really be surprised at what a difference this can make!

Macro Conclusion

Is the KLYP macro worth it?  Yes!  It’s not a dedicated macro lens like you get with Moment or iProLens.  It comes bundled with the wide-angle lens.  You just unscrew the wide-angle lens to reveal that macro lens and then you can shoot away to your hearts content.

Jack Hollingsworth

Jack Hollingsworth is a world-renowned travel, portrait, stock and iPhone photographer.  His love for mobile photography is infectious.  Since his conversion to mobile at the Crane Hotel on the island of Barbados in 2011, he has traveled to over 20 countries and shot over 400,000 images with his iPhone.  He’s a regular contributor to the Camera+ blog (SnapSnapSnap.photos) and he is currently authoring a book on iPhone Photography (eBook and print).  Jack is a popular keynote speaker at mobile photography conferences and events and his approach to mobile is principally photographic in nature.  He lives in Austin, Texas with his soul mate and two beautiful teenage daughters.

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