Macro photography is defined as photography done at an extreme close-up. The subject of these types of photographs is either the same size or larger as they are in real life. The extreme magnification of objects is done through a macro lens. An important component of these this photographic technique is depth of field - or the space in front of and behind the object. In addition to depth of field, the actual magnification process - and more specifically, the lens aperture settings - is something you need to be knowledgeable in to get a successful macro photograph.
Digital cameras are definitely useful when trying to perform macro photography. Even some of the lowest grade digital cameras can perform extreme close-up shots of small things. The best benefit of using a digital camera to capture macro images is the ability to view the picture before printing the film. If you don't have the shot, you'll know right then and there - and it will save you a lot of frustration from finding this out later on when you're back in your photography lab!
Finding the right lighting in macro photography is one of the most crucial elements to achieving these types of shots. If you're taking photos of small things, like jewelry, for example, you may need to use a light tent so the small object has enough light to create the dramatic effects needed to convey the full emotion of the shot. Lighting tents foster even lighting, and accentuates minute details that would otherwise be lost.
If you're not using a digital camera, and are looking to achieve a macro shot with conventional film, some other rules apply. You don't need to be able to see the object in the viewfinder of a standard camera to get a macro shot. However, far more film is required when you're shooting macro photography with a conventional camera ; again, you run into the problem of not knowing whether or not you really have shot.
There are some general rules you should adhere to whether you're using a conventional camera or a digital camera. First, it's always best to use external flash when you're shooting a macro photograph. Inner flashes simply are not conducive to accentuating details and bringing out the shadows the make a picture. External lashes can be positioned in any spot that is helpful for the photographer. The best type of flash to use for macro photography is called a ring flash - a flat flash mechanism that attaches to the lens of the camera that allows for maximum details of the object.