The world of macro and close up photography is great and one that is worth exploring. All digital cameras have an automatic macro mode, even cheap compact cameras and point and shoot cameras.
The automatic macro modes are ok for close up photographs but they are not good enough to produce real macro images, which is a 1:1 reproduction, i.e. the size of the subject, or part thereof, is the same size on the sensor. In order to take real macro shots you are going to need the right photographic equipment.
First off you are going to need an interchangeable lens camera, such as a digital SLR or a compact system camera.
A dedicated macro lens will provide the best quality images and there are loads to choose from. For those on a budget there are some third party macro lenses made by companies like Sigma, Tamron and Tokina. These lenses are available in several mounts so you will be able to use one of these whatever camera you shoot. For those of you with deeper pockets there are the top camera branded makes, such as Canon and Nikon. These macro lenses are not interchangeable and a Canon macro lens can only be used on a Canon camera and a Nikon lens can only be used on a Nikon camera. Nikon and Canon make the sharpest macro lenses however the third party brands are quite good and are still more than capable of providing good macro images.
Dedicated macro lenses are expensive and some people simply dont have the cash to buy a macro lens. Other people have the cash but cannot justify spending a lot of money on a specialised macro lens that will only be used occasionally. Fortunately, there are other ways of taking macro shots without having to shell out mega bucks. These alternatives require pieces of photographic equipment that is attached to a standard lens.
First off you can use a reversing ring, which is a metal ring placed between the camera and the lens, which is mounted back to front. Reversing rings work by forcing the lens to focus closer, hence giving more magnification. Reversing rings are cheap although they do have some disadvantages, the main one being the electrical contacts are exposed to the elements.
Secondly you may decide to use close up filters screwed in to the end of the lens. A close up filter is basically a magnifying glass that makes the subject appear larger. Close up filters are available in different strengths and you can stack the filters, i.e. use more than one, in order to get greater magnification.
Thirdly you can use extension tubes, which are hollow plastic tubes placed between the camera and the lens. Extension tubes force the camera to focus closer, hence increasing the magnification.
The reversing rings are the cheapest, followed by the close up filters, followed by the extension tubes. If you want to experience macro photography on a budget the above methods are the best way to go about it and wont cost you a small fortune in the process. With the correct gear all you need is some essential photography tips and you will be well on your way to taking some great macro shots.