Canon Rebel T3i Macro Photography

Macro Photography With Canon Rebel T3i

Flowers have amazing details that we often overlook.
Flowers have amazing details that we often overlook.
Bugs and insects are a macro favorite.
Bugs and insects are a macro favorite.
Even buttons can be dramatic when you check them out in macro mode.
Even buttons can be dramatic when you check them out in macro mode.

What's The Fascination With Macro Photography?

Ya gotta love macro. At least that is my opinion. It's what got me started in digital photography.

And now, with the Canon Rebel T3i, macro is much easier than ever before. In this article, you will discover just how Canon has made close-up pictures almost foolproof.

As you view the photos on the right, you will notice that there are the obligatory bugs and flowers. This is what most of us think when we hear the term "macro." However, there are lots of different possible subjects. In fact, if you just give it a bit of thought, you will be hard-pressed to think of something that cannot be used in macro shooting. Buttons and bows? Yes. Tires? Of course. An airplane engine? You bet! See what I mean?

This is why many photographers find close-ups so fascinating. When you get really close to your picture, you will see things that you would normally pass over without a second glance. Even ordinary things like buttons take on a whole new "personality." There are photographers who actually specialize in taking pictures of different items of clothing, not the whole article, but the bits and parts like zippers, buttons, and emblems. It can be quite addicting.

Canon Rebel T3i in Macro mode
Canon Rebel T3i in Macro mode
The flash fired and gave this horrible shadow when using the Macro mode in my Canon Rebel T3i.
The flash fired and gave this horrible shadow when using the Macro mode in my Canon Rebel T3i.

Getting Started With Macro Photography

Of course, you can shoot close-ups with any camera, including your cell phone. However, this is about using a Canon Rebel T3i for macro photography.

The first, probably most common way of taking close-ups is to use the dedicated mode dial setting on the camera. It looks like a little tulip flower on the dial. When you select this setting, your T3i knows you are about to do something special, namely take some pretty close shots. The camera has been set up by the manufacturer to do a good job of recording your images.

So, under normal conditions, you will get good results using the Macro mode dial setting, and if you don't want to learn any more about your Rebel than you have to, you can just stick with that setting. However, you are definitely giving up a lot of control when you do this. You actually can't change any of the settings like aperture, shutter speed, or ISO. In fact, if the light is not strong enough, you will not be able to take a picture without the flash. It pops up automatically, and no means of force can keep it from firing.

Check out the photo of the ruler on the right. This was taken in my office. See the nasty shadow? That is because the camera was too close to the ruler and the on-camera flash fired, causing a shadow of the lens hood to ruin the picture. Outside in regular daylight? No problem. The flash will not be a factor.

My personal favorite is Av, or Aperture Priority.
My personal favorite is Av, or Aperture Priority.
The same ruler as above without the ugly flash shadow - taken in Av (aperture priority).
The same ruler as above without the ugly flash shadow - taken in Av (aperture priority).

Using Creative Modes Instead of Macro Mode

The alternative to using Macro Mode is to choose one of the Creative mode selections on the other side of the dial. You can select P (program mode), Tv (shutter priority), or Av (aperture priority).

The easiest of the three mode selections is Av, or aperture priority, mode. This allows you to tell the camera what size aperture you want to use. For macro, a larger number will probably be what you want, such as a number above f/5.6. The higher the number you choose, the more detail you will get in your picture. The downside to this is that the higher numbers slow down the shutter speed, so using a tripod is sometimes a requirement.

If taking control of your camera by using a setting like Av is giving you heart palpitations, take a breath and calm down. You may take a few crumby pictures at first, but the more you practice, the better your images will get. Take a chance. It will cost you nothing ($$ that is). Plus, you may discover that taking control of your camera is fun and not as difficult as you thought. Also, when you select the aperture, your Rebel will choose the correct shutter speed to make a great exposure for you. It really is simple.

The picture of the ruler here is the exact same picture as the one above, except it was taken in Av mode so I did not have to deal with the flash and its ugly shadow.

The button indicated by the red arrow at the top will engage Live View, and the red arrow on the right is pointing to the button that will activate the 5x or 10x zoom.
The button indicated by the red arrow at the top will engage Live View, and the red arrow on the right is pointing to the button that will activate the 5x or 10x zoom.
Sunflower using Canon Rebel T3i with 70-200mm lens at 150mm. Camera was on a tripod and Live View with 5x digital zoom was used to fine-tune the focus.
Sunflower using Canon Rebel T3i with 70-200mm lens at 150mm. Camera was on a tripod and Live View with 5x digital zoom was used to fine-tune the focus.
This is the same photo, cropped to show the details due to the excellent focus.
This is the same photo, cropped to show the details due to the excellent focus.

Canon Rebel T3i - Macro Photography Tips

Now for the good news. The Canon Rebel T3i has a secret weapon when it comes to Macro photography.

It is the swivel LCD panel and Live View.

Here is how it works..

  1. Attach your macro lens (or your best zoom lens) to your Canon Rebel T3i.
  2. Put your Rebel T3i on a tripod or a solid surface where you want to take your shot.
  3. Select Av (aperture priority) on the mode dial.
  4. Set your lens on manual focus.
  5. Activate Live View.
  6. You will see the image in your LCD screen so you can focus the lens.
  7. Press the button to use the 5x zoom in order to focus better. You can get tack-sharp focus using 5x or 10x digital zoom.
  8. Press the shutter button to take the picture. If you want even more stability, use the timer set on 2 sec. so that you do not move the camera when you press the shutter button.

This method of taking macro photos is what sold me on the Canon Rebel T3i. It has given me the best close-ups I have ever taken with any camera.

If you use a shutter release cable, you can also prevent camera shake. The truth is that when you are really close to your subject and using a long focal length, your camera is much more prone to blur the image. Stabilizing is ubber important. So use a tripod and either a shutter release cable or set the camera to the 2 sec or 10 sec timer. You will be glad you did.

Another advantage of the Canon's T3i Live View screen is that you can focus even if the subject of your photo is hard to see through the view finder. The LCD screen swivels so you can see it even when it is very low to the ground or on the other side of a fence. The articulating LCD screen is not standard on any other Rebel model except the T3i. It makes easy work of some otherwise difficult viewing situations.

Macro Photography with Canon Rebel T3i Using Live View

Just Curious

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More Sample Canon Rebel T3i Macro Photos

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Please let me know you were here. 16 comments

jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 2 years ago from Philippines

Wonderful photos! ove macro photography!


Nickpetrou profile image

Nickpetrou 3 years ago from Athens, Greece

Excellent hub ,well done! I really liked all your photos, especially the sunflower!


thewayeyeseeit profile image

thewayeyeseeit 4 years ago from Woodstock, GA Author

Hey Darryl, thanks for the comment. You are right about the similarities between the T3i and the T2i. Both are great cameras. The T4i will be available at the end of June. It will be interesting to see if there is reason to upgrade..


Darrylmdavis profile image

Darrylmdavis 4 years ago from Brussels, Belgium

Great hub! I have a 550 (T2i is the North American name, I think) and much of what you have noted here applies to it, too.


thewayeyeseeit profile image

thewayeyeseeit 4 years ago from Woodstock, GA Author

I'm so sorry about your Canon 40D, but I am glad you got something from this article. I actually "upgraded" to the Rebel T3i from a 30D, but the 60d or 7d are also excellent (but more money).


pennylu profile image

pennylu 4 years ago from Georgia

Really loved this hub! The video really makes it great. I love macro photography! I just returned from a trip to Maui where I used nothing but my macro lens. It forced me to see Hawaii in a different way. Thanks for all the good info. I'm looking for a new canon camera. My 40D died in the middle of a whale watching trip.


thewayeyeseeit profile image

thewayeyeseeit 4 years ago from Woodstock, GA Author

Julie, you are welcome! Aren't macro lenses great? I love my Sigma 105mm macro. In fact, I use it for other kinds of photography, too.


julie prytherch 4 years ago

I totally appreciate the "easy" reading about this camera..it was awesome, and I learned a few things. I own the rebel eos t3 and needed some help with my new macro lens


thewayeyeseeit profile image

thewayeyeseeit 4 years ago from Woodstock, GA Author

Congrats on the camera.. good choice! Glad you found this information useful.


iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

This hub will definitely be helpful. I just got this camera and still learning how to use it properly. Thank you...voted up!!!


thewayeyeseeit profile image

thewayeyeseeit 4 years ago from Woodstock, GA Author

Alright Trahn! You are The Man! Thanks so much..


TrahnTheMan profile image

TrahnTheMan 4 years ago from Asia, Oceania & between

ANother great hub thewayeyeseeit! I voted it up and I'm now following you- cheers.


thewayeyeseeit profile image

thewayeyeseeit 4 years ago from Woodstock, GA Author

Thanks maggs224, and you are right, it is a nice camera. My granddaughter just got one too, and she loves it!


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 4 years ago from Sunny Spain

Real nice camera and real nice shots I enjoyed the hub :D


thewayeyeseeit profile image

thewayeyeseeit 4 years ago from Woodstock, GA Author

Thanks so much, nebhoteps! I really enjoy macro photography.. take pictures of everything up close and personal (my dog does not always appreciate my camera in his face).


nebhoteps profile image

nebhoteps 4 years ago from Europe

Amazing photos!

Thanks for sharing with all of us

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