This is something I get asked often and the answer might surprise you. I have several macro set-ups, none of which involve the use of a dedicated macro lens. Back in the day when I started out shooting macro I read a lot about photography mechanics and I was very lucky to be given fantastic advice from Mark Berkery. We were both active members of the Australian Photography Forum and I would go as far as saying Mark mentored me through the basics. Marks advice was invaluable and I don’t think I would have learnt anywhere near as much without Marks expert advice. In my opinion Mark Berkery is the best macro photographer around and a visit to his website is a must if you want to learn more about macro photography. http://beingmark.com/macro-illustrated/
So what do I use? Well it’s a mix of things really. My macro camera is a Canon 7D. I have used my 5D’s (II & III) but personally I find the cropped sensor better for my setup. I do not use a dedicated macro lens as such but instead I use a mix of extension tubes, dioper lens / filters and and a reversing ring.
The Extension tubes I use are Kenko. These are nothing more than empty tubes that extend the distance between the lens and the camera while maintaining control over the lens. These will increase magnification to around 1:1 with a 50mm lens. They work pretty well with a standard 50mm lens but need a bit of a boost with the dioper lens if you want to really close up macro.
Here is a quick rundown on my basic setup.