My Approach to Macro Photography

By Gail Job
Fine Jewelry Photographer, NYC

I have been shooting fashion photography for 8+ years. My specialty these days have been fine jewelry. Fine jewelry often requires tighter crops to capture the detail of the piece I am shooting. This often requires a macro lens when trying to get sharper closeups.

I am mostly a prime lens photographer which is why I especially love to use my Canon RF 100mm f2.8L IS Macro. This is a very sharp prime medium telephoto lens that works for various types of photography. I use this for model content, beauty shoots, and especially still life content.

What’s also great about this lens is how well the results look when shooting in lowlight. If I am shooting on location without lighting, I can shoot wide open and hardly compromise my image.

The other great feature on this lens is the SA (spherical aberration) Control Ring, which is a new feature added to this lens to play around with a softer focus resulting in dreamier and whimsical results. While I rarely would use this feature when shooting commercial photography, I do occasionally test this during a beauty test or editorial shoot! This 100mm is very versatile in that I even have shot video with this for really tight closeups of jewelry so it is safe to say I would absolutely pull this out for any shoot I do! It’s also very lightweight and easy to carry on your camera body.

When I shoot any still life, I typically work with a product stylist who styles the jewelry on set for me. The first thing I do on set after setting up my lights would be connect my camera to shoot tethered using Capture One. Shooting tethered has huge benefits as you are able to view what you are shooting and to ensure everything is styled properly and more importantly shot in focus!

My essentials on this kind of set would be a tripod to ensure stabilization and sharpness to the image. I would find my angle whether it be overhead, underneath, or straight on and point my camera at the jewelry for our first shot. I would also make sure the SA ring is in the center because I don’t want to create a soft focus for these kind of images; we want sharpness here! Once, we get our first image, I will shoot a few frames until my stylist is satisfied with styling. After this, since I am shooting with a 100mm and there may be some focus fall off, I will ensure that I get all my focus layers for my retoucher to combine our layers to create a sharp image. You can get your focus layers using the live action tool in Capture One or manually move your AF points in camera while it is stable on your tripod.

Some of my favorite images shot with the Canon RF 100mm f2.8L IS Macro lens are below:

I also had the opportunity to test out the Fuji GF 120mm f/4 R LM OIS WR Macro with Fuji GFX 50S II medium format body and I must say, this is also a great contender. The camera itself shoots a bit slower than I am used to but this could be beneficial when shooting as it forces you to stop and really be intentional with each frame you take similarly to film photography. Though, I am a Canon shooter through and through, I do really love the colors of the Fuji medium format. The film simulation options are endless from nostalgic 90s colors to vivid and BW options. I think this kind of lens would be great in a still life capacity but here are some of my favorites that I shot on a beauty shoot with it.

Here is a side by side comparison of shoots I did with the same light set up on Canon with the 100mm and Fuji’s 120mm macro lens. With Fuji’s images, I hardly color graded them as I focused on shooting with the film simulation Nostalgic Negative.

Gail Job for BorrowLenses

Get 20% off your first order with promo code BLOG20

Closing Remarks

I hope this helps you think about your own workflow and the kind of macro lens you’d like to try out in the future. What is great about photography and gear is there’s always a different approach to create photos and there isn’t one correct answer here. BorrowLenses offers the opportunity to let you test out gear without committing to a major price tag which is what I love to do in order to keep learning and growing. Create away and let me know how it goes on Instagram!

NYC based fashion photographer who specializes in editorial and fine jewelry with a love for 35mm film and polaroids.

Get 20% your first rental with promo code BLOG20

Mirrorless, Medium
Format and more.

Anamorphic, Cinema,
Wide Angle and more.

Aputure, Manfrotto,
Profoto and more.

About BL

BorrowLenses is an online camera gear rental service that started in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2007. We offer a wide selection of camera gear ranging from camera bodies, lenses, lighting and accessories. We make it easy to rent gear by shipping your order straight to you.