Macro Lenses Vs. Prime Lenses

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by decado, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. decado

    decado TPF Noob!

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    What are the difference between a macro lens and a normal prime lens? For example, what would the difference be between a 50mm macro lens and a 50mm prime lens?
     
  2. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Macro can focus closer. 1:1 usually.

    Non-macro lenses usually do around 1:5, or 1:6 - something like that.

    At 1:1 the object you are photographing would be life size on the sensor/film.
     
  3. decado

    decado TPF Noob!

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    What do you mean by focusing 1:1?
     
  4. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Reproduction ratio.

    1:1 means life size. A postage stamp would fill the entire frame (for example).

    1:5 would mean that the same postage stamp would be 5 times smaller than life size on the sensor.


    Basically, it's how close you can focus. A macro lens can usually focus on something less than a foot in front of it, a non-macro lens can usually only get down to around 3 feet and still focus.
     
  5. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    What are you talking about?
     
  6. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Sorry Josh. Although your explanation of a macro is correct, it does not really answer the OP's question since you forget to mention that a 50mm could/can be both macro and prime at the same time.

    To the OP, one has nothing to do with the other. A macro is as Josh explained. A prime, also known as a fixed focal lens, is the opposite of a zoom. A zoom covers a focal range, 24 to 85 let's say which, in this case, includes the 50mm focal length. But a 50mm will never be anything but 50mm.

    Now, a 50mm prime can be either macro or not.
    And same with a zoom. The 24-85 I used as an example can also be either macro or not.
     
  7. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I almost mentioned that, but I thought he might have known that based on the wording of his post... Just a bad thread name I guess.
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Besides being able to focus closely, short macro lenses (like 35,50,55,60 mm for example) are also often described as being "flat-field", which means that they have a perfectly flat focusing band, and do not suffer from the optical design flaw called "curvature of field". Curvature of field imparts an unusual look to image shot where the curvature is really high or bad; it gives a weird effect, with a sharp center image area, surrounded by a more than normally out of focus, slightly blurred periphery.

    On many high-speed lenses, like Canon's 85mm f/1.2L, or Nikon's 35mm f/1.4, just for two specific samples, the center of the frame can be in super-sharp focus, but the focus will not be sharp at the periphery of the image, due to curvature of field. Since short macro lenses are frequently used for copying of documents, stamps, and artwork like paintings, the designers of macro lenses strive to have perfect flatness of field.

    What might seem odd to some is that there are some *very* sharp and very costly lenses made by Canon, Nikon, and Zeiss, but which display very high degrees of field curvature, which can be used for creative effects, like on the $1,000 Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon reviewed here.

    The Online Photographer: Zeiss ZF / ZK Distagon T* 28mm f/2 Review
     
  9. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    and the quishi post is spam :grumpy:
     
  10. decado

    decado TPF Noob!

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    Ya, I suppose it was bad thread naming.

    So, if I get a 50mm f/1.4 will I still be able to use that as a macro lens and just stand back farther or will I have problems getting frame filling shots?
     
  11. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    No, you need a macro lens.
     
  12. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    No - the 50mm f/1.4 is NOT a macro lens.

    You just can't fill the frame with very small objects. It's fine for everything else.
    Minimum focus distance for that lens is 1.5 feet, so something like a person's face would fill the frame, but not a penny.
     

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