Macro lenses -- real ones that cost hundreds of dollars -- attach to powerful DSLR cameras and allow photographers to magnify a subject to a true 1:1 ratio on the camera sensor. But say you don't have a DSLR. Say you don't want to spend $500 or more on a macro lens. How will you ever photograph the stamen of a flower or get that close-up of a praying mantis you've always wanted? Don't give up! It's not a lost cause.
Even a cheap point-and-shoot camera can take a close-up. Many cameras, including inexpensive compacts, offer a macro mode that helps the camera focus on objects at extremely close distances. The macro mode, sometimes represented by a flower icon, doesn't produce the same kinds of images as a true macro lens because the lens, not the camera, performs the magnification that delivers a life size image.
Still, macro mode is better than nothing. The camera may be more difficult to focus than usual, but turning on macro mode will allow you to take close-ups of small objects. Consider it practice for shooting with a macro lens. If you crave more power, it may be time to step up to the real thing.