My current setup for macro shots is a 85mm prime on a fullframe body with 3 extension tubes (about 70mm in total). I do get pretty close but I saw some images of insects that have an EXTREME magnification. Something like this:

enter image description here

[taken from this site]

I tried to get something like this without any chance of success. I tried to mount my 85mm with all 3 extension tubes on my MFT camera which allowed my to get an even higher magnification. I switched to a 200mm lens with 3 tubes on MFT. I do get close - but not THAT close. This is how close I got with that setup:

enter image description here

Since the front element of my lens was about 6-8 inches away from this ladybug I dont know if getting closer than this is the key. I might end up blocking the light with my lens if I would use additional extension tubes. Also the ladybug could fly away if I come to close. The first picture has also a much smoother lighting and a good amount of DOF. Im 100% sure that this has to be a studio made image with artifical lighting and focus stacking. My questions are:

  • How to get a magnification like this? What lenses/adapters are involved?
  • Dont you end up blocking the light when getting too close?
  • Is this even possible to be taken out in the fields and how? Or do you get these images only in the studio?
  • Wont the insect move away before you could even try to take multiple images for stacking? Especially when getting this close to it. Or does this involve dead insects?
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can try longer focal lengths to increase working distance. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 1:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Use an extreme macro lens?" \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 22:55

2 Answers 2


You can get that close on a cheap budget. If you reverse a 17mm lenses you can get even more closer than the picture you showed and even more if you use extenders. So if your lenses are variable focal length type it'll be better to adjust to your desire. For better results use low dispersion lenses.

To stack photos you need the insect to be in the same place for several minutes (around 15 minutes if you take 50 or 60 shots in manual mode). Either the insect is alive but sleeping or you need a insect "sleeping forever". You can use the stacker software of your choice, but the one widely used in these kind of photos are zerene stacker and it's cheap.

If you don't have a electronic stacker you'll need some practice in taking photos with consecutive focused field. You can refocus next point by moving the camera or subject or by moving your focus dial.

Enjoy macro photography.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hugin has very good focus stacking and it is free. hugin.sourceforge.net \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 20:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SteveBarnes didn't know about it. Thank you \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 23:34

Magnification like that mostly uses dedicated macro lenses, though a good achromatic closeup lens on a superzoom can be pretty useful as well. You get very close. You don't block the light because the light is a ring flash and/or backlighting. Stacking is comparatively important. Dead insects more often than not won't make for good pictures since they are likely damaged. Refrigerating them makes them a lot better target for image stacking as well as shooting.


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