What is Extreme Macro and Focus Stacking

Hello dear readers. In this article, I talked about EXTREME MACRO Photography that pushes the limits of macro photography. Let me tell you from the beginning, after reading this article, you will step into a brand new world … ‘What is the extreme macro (advanced macro) ? ‘How to’? ‘What is focus stacking?’ What should be considered in ‘focus stacking’? I will talk about such questions.

What is Extreme Macro Photography? How is it applied?

Created with focus stacking from 46 photos

Extreme macro, slightly different than the macro information you know so far. Macro is Close-up; The extruded macro is a very close shot. Technically, macro photography is done up to 1: 1 magnification, while Extreme Macro photography is valid for more than 1: 1 size. There is extreme macro photography that can be made up to 20: 1 in size. Extreme Macro is sometimes called Advanced Macro.

Extreme Macro Photography Requires special equipment. For example, microscope lenses and custom made lenses. You have a 90mm macro lens, and with this lens you can shoot the butterfly placed on a flower in nature. It would be a nice photo. But with the extreme macro, you can shoot the eyes, antennas, wing details of that butterfly. You will be able to take extraordinary photos with the microscope lenses that can be attached to the blowers or the front of the lenses with special adapters, and the zoom that macro lenses cannot do.

Topic Selection in Extreme Macro

Created with focus stacking from 26 photos

In Exrteme Macro, mostly minimal entities are the subject. Although insect varieties lead, it can be used on inanimate objects such as pencil tip and matchstick. We shoot using inanimate objects rather than living objects; because living things do not stay in place, they move. (You can see the bigger ones by clicking on the photos we share.)

There are two indispensable things for the extreme macro. The first is “time” and the other is “patience”. If these two and some curiosity, then let’s move on to the original event. The extreme macro has two stages. One is shooting and techniques, the second is photo processing and focus stacking.

What is The Focus stacking in Extreme Macro Photo

Created with focus stacking from 68 photos

Focus stacking is to combine and process multiple photos in a virtual environment by overlapping them. By changing the Net Area, it is to increase the depth of the field and create a whole. Focus stacking can be used not only in extreme macro, but in all areas of photography. It is also common to use in the normal macro. The most important point to note is that the frame does not change in the photos to be superimposed. The camera must be kept absolutely stable and the focal length of the lens should not change. In the Extreme Macro Focus stacking method, the program used automatically selects the clearest regions in the photos taken and reduces these clear areas to a single photo. In this way, it feels as if the photographs are taken with enormous clear depth at once.

Advanced Macro Shooting Stage

It will take time to shoot. Therefore, if necessary, even an artificial environment can be prepared to spend this time. We also have indispensable auxiliary materials. These:

1- Tripod (to prevent shaking)
2- Micrometer rail, in other words, macro rail! (which is a must-have for this ray)
It should be ensured that the micro rail is securely attached to the tripod. It should also be ensured that the lenses are securely attached to the machine and the machine to the rail. The object should be placed at the closest distance that the lens can land. Object soft should be illuminated at the level closest to the nature. Machine settings will take value depending on the current situation. However, iso should be chosen minimum or close to minimum in terms of quality (between 50-400). Our machine must be in M ​​mode. When shooting the first frame, many snapshots can be selected depending on the environment. If a diaphragm lens is to be used, a stop should be selected from the diaphragm shortest or most open in terms of quality.

Case study:

Created with focus stacking from 42 photos

Let’s say you found a dead bee in a corner of your home and decided to shoot. We attach the camera to the micrometer rail and the micrometer rail to the tripod. We also attach the macro lens to the macro track. (There is no need to be a macro lens or a microscope lens, this can be done with any type of lens. But I can’t say anything about the resulting photo quality. The more glass causes the more image pollution and loss of clarity). Then let’s place the bee you find on a ground that will not vibrate. You can place a piece of colored paper behind it or put the bee on a piece of branch. the background will add a different mood to the event. And we take care that your model (which is bee) does not fall down – does not move. Then we put our camera in front of the model and adjust your angle-frame and set the nearest clear area by placing the lens in manual focus mode. (1: 1 ratio in macro lenses is enough to detail a bee.)
Macro Rail Should be Used

Bring your macro track (I assume you have it) to your 45-step track to 0 (start) and start with a deep breath. The first point we should focus on should be the foremost point of the bee. this point will usually be the antenna of the bee. Then you can advance your Micrometer rail with 10 steps and start taking the photo. Use time-lapse photography so that the photo does not flicker. Or you can shoot with the remote control, if available. It makes your job very easy if there is a remote control. We can also use the wifi feature in our machine instead of remote control. Our rule: press 10 steps turn shutter, press 10 turn turn shutter, press 10 turn turn shutter… again, again, again and again… until the last net area of ​​the bee. Maybe there will be 50 photos, who knows 100 photos.

Created with focus stacking from 52 photos

As a result, you will be happy; Because you realized your first extreme macro with focus stacking. Now you have dozens of photos with 1.5 – 2 GB on average… Turn these photos into single photos with the help of programs such as ‘zerene stacker’, ‘helicon focus’ or ‘adobe photoshop’ (whichever program you have now).
When taking a photo, use it in its raw form or take it as a jpeg. If you shoot RAW, parts that can be corrected, if any, can be corrected more originally. But the biggest problem of Raw is its virtual memory. It will also take longer to process the computer as it will take up a lot of space. But if you are going to give a little bit of color and contrast, you can just shoot it as Jpeg. Let me add it immediately; a little contrast sharpness and color will be fine.

Problems and solutions in Extreme Macro:


Extrame Macro and Focus stacking is a tough job. This troublesome flavor can be brought along with some problems. Patience and perseverance come first for extreme macro photography. The biggest problem after these is the light… if you really want to do this work, you need to make the light sufficient and soften according to the environment in which you take your photo. This includes light that illuminates your room. And this job can sometimes take a very long time. Since you are the one who knows your working environment best, you should get lighting equipment that can meet your needs.

2. Wind-Vibration

The other problem is the wind. Even if you are shooting very closely with the microscope lens, your model may fall and fall over. After all, if you don’t want to see a bee with a broken antenna. The method can sometimes take your clocks and during this time you will need to protect the object from the wind. Therefore, it is very important to take the wind into account when preparing the environment.

Created with focus stacking from 10 photos

The other problem is chills. You moved your foot 10 cm in the event of ” 10 steps turn shutter trigger trigger ” and if all your work is not finished, it changes place due to the frame change. When the bee you started to shoot a little while ago was in the center, when you moved your foot, you also saw that it played slightly and slipped to the right. In fact, the bee remains stationary; What moves is the tripod. Shaking the tripod means throwing all our work into the trash. We must calculate both our own movements and environmental factors that will trigger the tripod vibration and make adjustments accordingly.

3. Loss of Motivation

And another problem is our broken motivation. Take the thoughts like I couldn’t, I couldn’t, I couldn’t, I couldn’t succeed. Although it is difficult, it will be an indescribable happiness on your face when you see that you have achieved it. On the contrary, it will open up extra jobs like always asking for more and getting closer. There is no need for extra thoughts to spend your time which is already less.

Equipment advice for Extreme Macro:

macro bellows example

1) A quality micro rail or macro bellows.

2) Microscope lenses

Lomo 3.7x (cheap and very good quality microscope lenses. It is a very sharp lens) Lomo 8x, Nikon 5x, nikon 10x, zeiss microscope lenses

3) lesns that enlarge more than 1: 1

Canon MP-E 65mm f / 2.8 1-5x Macro lens, Venus laova 60mm f2.8 2: 1 macro lens, mitakon 20mm f2 4.5x lens,….

4) extension blowers

5) extension tubes (extention tube)

6) reverse binding adapters

7) close up filters:

Raynox, sony, carl zeiss…

My own Extreme Macro System :

Sony a7 II + PK-NEX K&F adapter + pentax a bellows double rail bellows + Pentak – M42 adapter + M42-RMS adapter + lomo 3,7x / lomo 8x microscope lens ..

I’m sure you have a lot of question marks in your mind.
And believe me, this is just part of the iceberg.
Those who know it, it is an issue that I can talk about as Micro talks about me. In an environment, when I say “macro” when I don’t open a knife, I talk as I speak, like people who describe the memory of military service =)
So when I ask a question about the macro, I would like to explain it… You can contact me and ask your questions without any hesitation.

Extreme Macro Photo Examples

Created with focus stacking from 36 photos
Created with focus stacking from 66 photos
Created with focus stacking from 73 photos
Created with focus stacking from 64 photos

Author: Murat Demir: He likes a talented photographer who has developed himself in the best way of extreme macro, and also a passionate photo. Thank you for your contribution to our site. Instagram for follow-up: instagram/@Muratrimed

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