I’ll let you know right off the bat that I just finished writing an extensive post discussing this very topic. The conclusion I came to was that using a focus rail that’s attached to a tripod and having your camera mounted on the focus rail is the best way to go as far as making small positioning adjustments for macro photography. There are tons of brands that make focus rails, so do your research. Surprisingly, these little devices cost quite a bit, being around $300 to $400 and even more, I’m sure.
Basically, you can’t hand hold your camera while shooting up close for macro photography. You’ll end up getting blur from camera shake and you’ll also be concentrating on all the wrong things while taking the photo. You definitely need a tripod and for all those minor movements and adjustments, you’ll need a focus rail. The reason for this is the extremely shallow depth of field that comes with being so close to an object. I’m talking millimeters here. The focus rail offers the slightest adjustments so that depth of field covers just the right spot of your subject.
To me, the more valuable benefit of using a focus rail is having the ability to take multiple shots with slightly different focal points. If you take one shot with the depth of field targeted toward the closest part of the object and then continue on working your back with more photos, you’ll end up with quite a few photos with different focal planes. Once you import those photos into Adobe Photoshop, you can focus stack the images for a much deeper depth of field. This can be huge when it comes to macro photography. Quite the effect.
What are your feelings on focus rails in conjunction with focus stacking? Have you tried this technique? If so, please chime in down below. Also, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask down below too. Thanks!