I am doing my first steps in photographing my models. My equipment is a SLR Canon EOS-40D with a lens 17-85, with stabiliser. My first test shots were focused in the frame or scene setting. In other words: how I see the model in the picture, too big, too small, or ....
I quickly noticed I see it too small in the frame even for focal distance 85, and if I want to see it bigger I have to get closer. Then I start to find problems of minimum focusing distance, for my lens it is 0,38 m => I have discovered that I have to go into this mistery world of "macro photograph".
I recently purchased a 70-300 lens which overcomes partly this issue but I keep having some minimum focusing distance by 1,20 m, and I know I will have more depth-of-field and exposure problems when I start with the tripod with serious shots.
Asking in the photograph shop, they tell me about several solutions.
1) Expensive macro specific objectives => discarded by the moment, my budget is "dead" due to the 70-300 lens...
2) A raw magnification lens assembled on the objective like a filter, which for between 50 and 100 euros will allow to see just bigger things
3) Extension tubes which are mounted between the camera and your objective. These modify the minimum focusing distance, allowing you to go closer. One tube could be 150 euros, a set or threee could be for 300 euros.
4) A kind of hybrid, a lens asemmbled like a filter but doing the function of 3). For 54 euros. This really works but the one I tested has a too small lens and is not usable in my camera, I see black corners. Well actually I see even the lens' black plastic frame in the display...sad.
The guy in the shop told me that usually many people choosing 3) are later disappointed by the performance compared to the cost, close to some macro-special objectives. He recommended me to go for 2) which is not the greatest miracle but it is cheap.
Please anybody out there could give me some advice, and also some guidelines in this kind of photographs?
If it is for posting on the internet or for prints or for submission to magazines? Each destination will warrent a different answer.
For the internet:
Pictures destined for posting in articles on the inernet don't need to be large. With the lenses you have you could set up the camera at it's closest focusing distance, take numerous shots and crop them later for posting. With 12 megapixels at you command, a picture taken from 0.38M can be cropped and still have enough detail for the internet. The added bonus of doing it this way is that the depth of field is greater. Since you have the equipment, experiment and see if cropped photos give you what you want.
For print media (home use):
As for pictures printed in 4"x6" (100mm x 150mm) size, the same rules for the interent apply. I have sucsessfully printed photos froma 2 megapixel camera on 8"x10" (200mm x 600mm) and had it come out clear. Your existing equipment should be good enough for home use.
For Print media (magazines):
Though I have never submitted a photo to a magazine in digital format, the quality of the photo should be much higher. If you intend on taking a lot of macro photos, saving up and investing in a macro lens (not add on filters) may be your only recourse.
Photos taken very close to the model look different from photos taken at a distance and then cropped. If you want the picture to look like you were standing next to the real thing, you will need a macro lens to get close enough to achieve the same vanishing points. I wish I had an example to show you, but none are near to hand. If I can, I'll take some photos tonight and post them tomorrow.
I hope this helps. Have fun experimenting with your D40!