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what makes macro lenses macro lenses?
Hi,.

I'm having some problems understand what's *macro* about macro lenses..

On wikipedia they say something like: "lenses that are able to display something small in real-life size.".

But I don't understand what that actually means. Aren't you trying to get your subject as big as possible in macro photography?.

What makes a lens a macro lens? What's the difference between a 100mm macro lens and a normal 100mm lens?.

Rainbowhead. Started with photography in april '08.D forty. 18-55mm kit lens.http://flickr.com/photos/25615050@N03/..

Comments (12)

"Macro" or in Nikon's case, "Micro" is not a legal term, so definitions can vary..

Generally, a macro lens lets you get closer than a conventionally designed lens of the same focal length..

To do this, it has different elements and different gears inside..

Some macro lenses are designated 1:1. This means that the subject let's say a bug is as big in real life as it is in covering the sensor inside the camera..

With 35mm film, it means a postage stamp 1 inch by 1.5 inches would fill the entire viewfinder..

With digital camera,s it means that whatever part of the stamp is the same size as the sensor would fill the viewfinder..

But "macro" can mean lenses that don';t get this close; fill the frame with a business card, or a post card, or a file card, or the middle of a face where a conventional lens would get the top of the head and the first two shirt buttons..

BAK..

Comment #1

It's a specialized lens that allows for extremely close focusing distances and also, ideally, captures the subject at a 1:1 ratio (life size). With extension tubes, the ratio can be greater than life size. Some so-called, but not true macro lenses return a 1:2 or lower ratio..

The difference between macro focal lengths, 60mm, 90mm, 100-105mm. 200mm etc. is the subject to lens distance. The longer the lens, the farther away the shooter can be while still capturing the subject at lifesize. Longer macro lenses are especially handy when shooting insects and other creatures...

Comment #2

Here is a macro thread than runs constantly in the Canon Lens forum. Zip through this thread and look at the images, then go back to the Original Poster and follow the excellent links he has provided; all will become clear:.

Http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1029&message=27633869Either you are in charge of the camera, or it is in charge of you...

Comment #3

I still don't really get the difference between a "normal" 100mm lens and a "macro" 100mm lens..

The macro lens will be able to focus closer, right? Is that the only difference then?.

Rainbowhead. Started with photography in april '08.D forty. 18-55mm kit lens.http://flickr.com/photos/rainbowhead/..

Comment #4

Rainbow, It is a matter of basic optical design. A lens, any lens, can give it's sharpest image only at one distance or at best a range of distances. A 100mm "normal" lens may be designed to work best at 10 or 20 feet, whereas a 100mm "Macro" lens must work much closer, about 4 or five inches. When film was popular, lenses designed for photo enlargers were specially designed to work best at 10 to 30 inches. Unfortunately, the manufacturers and the magazine writers have misused the term "Macro" to mean any lens which can focus at a close distance. The manufacturers want to fool you I nto buying their product and most of the magazine writers just don't know any better.

Can you use a normal lens for close work? Yes. Can you use a "Macro" lens to shoot a landscape? Yes. But if you want the very best in image quality (sharpness) you will use a lens designed for the purpose for which you are using it.Judy..

Comment #5

Rainbowhead wrote:.

I still don't really get the difference between a "normal" 100mm lensand a "macro" 100mm lens.The macro lens will be able to focus closer, right? Is that the onlydifference then?.

It's a bit more complicated than that, but, basically (and this is Beginners Questions) the answer is Yes...

Comment #6

Re>The macro lens will be able to focus closer, right? Is that the only difference then?<.

Pretty much..

This ability to focus closer makes macro lenses bigger than others. Some macro lenses have focus limiters, so that in autofocus you choose either a "normal" range or a closeup range. With normal, the lense won't spend as long hunting for the focus point..

And many (especially single focal length rather than zoom) macro lenses are flat field. This means that if you point them at a wall, a painting, a sheet of paper, they will focus to the center, and the corners, at the same time, even though the corners are farther fromthe lens than the center is. Stretch a sting to see this concept in action..

BAK..

Comment #7

Thanks for the excellent responses..

I've googled some more and some guys told another newbie to start off with an old second-hand macro lens from ebay.I've looked around and found this one:Micro-Nikkor AI zoom 55 mm f/3.5I can get this for 50/80$..

Would this be a good starting macro lens for a beginner? I have a D40 and I know the limitations I'd have on this lens (no autofocus, no metering) but that doesn't seem like a problem since I'd have the time to trial&error myself trough manual mode. (which would be good training anyway).

Or should I instead spend my money on an extension ring?.

Rainbowhead. Started with photography in april '08.D forty. 18-55mm kit lens.http://flickr.com/photos/rainbowhead/..

Comment #8

Rainbowhead wrote:.

I've looked around and found this one:Micro-Nikkor AI zoom 55 mm f/3.5I can get this for 50/80$..

That's not a zoom. That's a fixed focal length a.k.a. prime..

Would this be a good starting macro lens for a beginner? I have a D40and I know the limitations I'd have on this lens (no autofocus, nometering) but that doesn't seem like a problem since I'd have thetime to trial&error myself trough manual mode. (which would be goodtraining anyway).

I don't know anything about Nikons. Your D40 has no focus motor - make sure the lens has focus ring otherwise it will never focus..

No metering is ouch! Can your D40 work on Aperture Priority, you control the aperture manually on the lens (of course you need an aperture ring on the lens) and the camera controls the shutter speed?.

Or should I instead spend my money on an extension ring?.

Extension ring to what? An extension ring or tube is a hollow tube. You put a lens at the other end. What lens have you got?.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

Anandahttp://anandasim.spaces.live.com/http://olympuse510.wikispaces.com/http://picasaweb.google.com/AnandaSim/http://www.flickr.com/photos/32554587@N00/..

Comment #9

This is an excellent bargain lens, a cheap way to get into the "macro" game and not have spent a lot of money. If you hang around "macro freaks," you soon learn there has never been a bad macro made. The are a couple of reasons for this, it's easier to build quality into primes - all macros are primes - and the one defining factor of a macro is it has to be sharp, or else why would you buy it. So all macros are sharp..

The lens I'm suggesting to you is the Cosina 100mm f3.5 macro lens. It has gone under several names as Cosina is a manufacture that builds lenses then sells them to other companies to put their name on it. So try and find a used copy of this lens, it could be a Vivitar 100, or a Phoenix 100, or a Tamron 100, I can't recall them all. But in the market place, Vivitar seems to have made the largest dent in the market. Pop Photo gave this lens a "best buy" when it came out under the Vivitar name..

I just realized your camera is Nikon D40 so DO NOT buy this lens, something about autofocusing, you wll understand, I don't - Canon here. I will leave what I have written for others to read, so if they are on a budget they can still possess a macro lens..

Here is a user's review under the Cosina name:.

Http://www.dyxum.com/reviews/lenses/reviews.asp?IDLens=236.

Another review:.

Http://www.photographyreview.com/...5mm-primes/vivitar/PRD_84631_3111crx.aspxEither you are in charge of the camera, or it is in charge of you...

Comment #10

Rainbowhead wrote:.

I still don't really get the difference between a "normal" 100mm lensand a "macro" 100mm lens.The macro lens will be able to focus closer, right? Is that the onlydifference then?.

Some normal lenses have a macro "mode" which does allow closer focusing. (as mentioned sometimes as close as to photograph a 4x6 photo, or 2"x3" business card..

A true "macro" lens allows even closer focusing, and as mentioned, sometimes close enough for photograph a POSTAGE STAMP..

(Extension-Tubes behind the lens; or Close-Up lens adapters in front of the lens, can be used to get even closer).

NOTE: In addition, many true "macro" lenses have a FLAT FOCUSING FIELD, necessary for proper focusing when copying (flat) images or documents..

Rainbowhead. Started with photography in april '08.D forty. 18-55mm kit lens.http://flickr.com/photos/rainbowhead/.

Thanks for reading .... JoePhoto.

( Do You Ever STOP to THINK and FORGET to START Again ??? )..

Comment #11

Rainbowhead wrote:.

Micro-Nikkor AI zoom 55 mm f/3.5I can get this for 50/80$..

The 55mm AI Micro at that price is an excellent start (in good condition). You soon learn to meter using your eyes and histogram no problems there..

Tapio..

Comment #12

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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