I’ve experimented with macro photography before, but the lighting can be quite difficult to get right since the lens is generally in the way. Fortunately, there is an alternative called a “ring light.” I bought this model for around $30 on Amazon, and I’ve put my results in a gallery after the “read more” link.
You can also use it as a flash-alternative for relatively close-up shots, like the below photo of a dog toy. It also works for video lighting. For photography, I found it best to turn the light on continuous instead of flash, as it won’t adjust your exposure settings for you in this mode (at least I haven’t figured it out yet), and you’d have to compensate for it manually.
One thing that was a challenge using this was getting my macro adapter (Amazon), which has two male threads, to fit onto the male-threaded adapter for the light. This was easily accomplished by using the 62mm diameter adapter instead of the 58mm that my lens measures, and pressing the male thread of the macro adapter into the inside. This forms a secure press-fit that can be easily disassembled if you want to use it in wide angle mode again. Glue could be used if something more permanent is desired.
Below is the promised slideshow of some of my better shots. The robot was my favorite so far, but I also thought the stone photograph was pretty cool (most were well under 1/2 inch in diameter by my estimate). One thing to keep in mind is that the depth of focus seems to be quite small with this type of photography. Consequently, it seems setting your aperture correctly is quite important.
One last comment on the unit I’m using, is that it seems to make a slight humming noise when you adjust the light to a lower level. Also, there is no AC adapter included, and the battery indicator seems to be wearing down more quickly than I’d like.
All things considered, for the price, I think this type of cheap ring light/macro setup is definitely worth it if you want to try macro photography. At around $40 for both items, there are worse things to spend your “camera budget” on.