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.
|Canon EF 180mm ƒ/3.5L Macro USM
1:1, life-size magnification can be captured as far as 1.6 feet away from your subject with the EF 180mm macro. Three UD glass elements and a floating design correct for chromatic aberrations, while the included tripod collar makes it easy to use with a tripod.
Adam Jones: Canon Explorer Of 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".
These features also are found in the new Tamron SP AF70-200mm ƒ/2.8 Di LD Macro, with a magnification ratio of 1:3.1 at 200mm. Since it’s a Di lens, it gives you an equivalent focal range of 109-310mm when used with APS-C-sized sensors in Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony D-SLRs.
Tokina AT-X 100mm ƒ/2.8 Macro
Capable of serving both digital and film cameras, the AT-X 100mm macro gets you life-sized, 1:1 reproduction at 11.8-inches‚ a nice, moderate working distance from many subjects. There’s still plenty of room for using reflectors or a wireless flash, yet close enough to capture all the tiny details with great sharpness.
|Tamron SP AF70-200mm ƒ/2.8 Di LD Macro
While the maximum magnification of 1:3.1 makes it shy of true macro, you won’t hear photographers complaining about that. The flexible zoom range makes up for that, and the minimum focusing distance of 37.4 inches means you don’t have to be right on top of what you’re photographing to fill the frame.
|Sony SAL 100mm ƒ/2.8 Macro
From close-up nature shots to mid-range telephoto work, the SAL 100mm Macro provides sharp 1:1 reproduction when focusing as close as 12.24 inches. With a built-in focus-range limiter, focus time is speeded up by limiting the range of distances that are brought into focus either close-up range or telephoto range.
|Pentax P-D FA 50mm ƒ/2.8
When you want to get close, the P-D FA 50mm lets you focus as close as 7.67 inches from your subject to capture life-size reproductions. It also works just as well as a regular telephoto lens, so you don’t have to change lenses every time you want to grab a wider shot.
>> To see more work from John Isaac, visit www.johnisaac.com
>> To see more work from Adam Jones, visit www.adamjonesphoto.com
>> To see more work from David Middleton, visit www.davidmiddletonphoto.com
>> To see more work from Stephen Lang, visit www.stephenlangphotography.com