Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Choosing Your Macro
Getting in close and maintaining critical focus is the forte of this breed of lensThis Article Features Photo Zoom
Macro lenses come in a variety of focal lengths: standard 50mm to 70mm, short telephoto 85mm to 100mm and telephoto 180mm to
200mm. With standard focal-length macros, you have to be physically much closer to your subject to get the full, 1:1 life-size magnification. Lens-to-subject distance usually will be less than six inches.
Short telephoto and telephoto macros allow for a more moderate working distance between the lens and the subject, usually one to two feet. The greater shooting distance also is better if you need to use a tripod, which frequently is the case with heavier, internal-focus telephotos. Because telephoto macros are particularly susceptible to image shake, to get focus dialed in properly and ensure the sharpest image, a sturdy tripod can be essential.
For including more background or foreground detail to complement your subject or serve as a visual reference for scale, a standard focal length will give you a much wider perspective. For minimizing backgrounds and getting selective focus, a short telephoto or telephoto macro is what you want. The focal length, together with a large aperture, will effectively reduce everything around your focal point to a beautiful abstract collage of color and light.
The Canon EF 180mm ƒ/3.5L Macro is the lens Adam Jones uses for all his macro photography. Says Jones, "The narrower background of the 180mm gives me less distractions and that nice posterboard look behind my subjects, whereas a 50mm lens is going to get the trees and everything else in the frame. That’s the main reason, but I also like the longer working distance and the fact that it has a tripod collar, which facilitates using the lens on a tripod much better".
It’s a big lens, though. It’s heavy, and it’s Canon’s most expensive macro.So it might not be right for everyone. For fieldwork, the EF 100mm ƒ/2.8 still gives you a moderate working distance, and it’s one-third the price. Plus, if you’re using the lens with anything other than a full-frame sensor, the focal length will bump up 1.3x to 1.6x anyway. So it will perform like a 130mm or 160mm lens.
"Close-up photography in the field demands exacting skills" says Jones, "and longer lenses simply make working in the field a lot less aggravating and a whole lot more fun".
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