Ah, the tripod -- is there any more reliable tool in a photographer's arsenal? Maybe the flash owns that distinction, but there's no debating that tripods are instrumental for all kinds of photography, and macro shooting is no exception. Remember our goal: to magnify the subject through the powerful optics of a macro lens, capturing details we couldn't observe with the naked eye. For that, we need to get close.
But not too close! A macro photograph requires perfect focus. And when dealing with nature, getting too close could mean bumping into a flower, scaring off an insect or otherwise disturbing the moment. Insert a tripod into the equation and you remove movement, which makes it easier to focus and compose a shot. Since macro photography is often used for small subjects, a full-size tripod might even be overkill -- miniature or specialty tripods like the Gorillapod can get the job done.
Some macro photography situations don't really benefit from a tripod -- or, more likely, shooting with a tripod just isn't practical. Let's say you're a technology reporter sitting in a sea of news folks as Samsung unveils their latest smartphone. When the press conference is over you want to grab some nice macro shots of the device. So do the other hundred reporters in the room! They all rush the stage, crowd around the device and begin taking dozens of pictures. Do you think there's time or space to set up a tripod for your own shots? Not likely!