Totally new to Macro....

Discussion in 'Macro Photography' started by PerfectlyFlawed, Feb 4, 2010.

  1. PerfectlyFlawed

    PerfectlyFlawed TPF Noob!

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    ..Or even photography in general. ( so bare with me lol ):blushing::lol:

    What Exactly is Macro... and does that come standard with all the options or lenses???

    I was going to purchase Either a Canon XSi. I Nikon D 3000 or 5000. and they come with a standard lenses kit..
    im in love with all of these macro pics ive seen on here. <3:thumbup:
     
  2. jarhead2042

    jarhead2042 TPF Noob!

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    from my understanding macro is just very close up to whatever u are taking a picture of, flowers,bugs,money,tools etc. etc.

    if u look at my screen name under the macro section all my pics was taken with a nikon d3000 and the kit lens (18-55mm)...it works to get u started but im in search of a better lens for the job
     
  3. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Macro photography is not "just very close" shooting. Macro is having the ability to shoot an image that is 1:1 (or greater), meaning that it is life size, 1mm if the subject is 1mm in the frame (or greater).

    I shoot with a Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 lens and have a few images in the Macro section and Load of Bokeh thread.
     
  4. jarhead2042

    jarhead2042 TPF Noob!

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    thanks for clearing it up for him and me....cause my explication is the one i have been getting feed for the last few months
     
  5. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    As has been said "true" macro is when the image is life size, or 1:1 - the same size on the camera sensor (as reflected by the lens) as it is in real life.

    Now there are some things that can lead to confusion because of camera companies and the lables they use these days:

    1) Macro mode - on most entry level DSLRs and most point and shoot cameras there is a macro mode. On a DSLR simply shooting in this mode does not make a macro photograph - what it does is tell the camera to automatically choose an aperture, shutter speed and ISO which will be typical of the settings a macro shooter would choose. This typically means trying for a small aperture (big f number). However you could take this shot any range from your subject and thus not get an actual macro shot.
    (for a better understanding of these 3 settings I strongly recomend the book "Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson - it will go into far more depth and yet still retains a very approachable and understandable level of writing for a beginner and is a very highly recomended book by many)

    2) Lenses with macro in the name - almost all lenses with macro in the name fall into two categories;
    The first is the true macro lens, these are almost all prime lenses (that is they will only have a single focal length eg 100mm) and also a wide maximum aperture (eg f2.8).
    The second is a zoom lens (eg a 70-300mm) an on these lenses the use of the word macro typically means that the lens can achive a close focused shot, but the magnification will only be around 1:2 - that means half life size. It's a marketing move to help sell the lenses and again no shot you take with this lens (even in its "Macro mode") is considered a true macro shot.

    3) Butterflies and flowers - most butterfly and flower shots are "considered" macro, however many are only around the 1:2 range with far fewer being true macro shots at 1:1. It's rather a convention that slips by most people and most people don't mind such subjects being labled as macro even though its not true macro.


    Ok so I hope I haven't lost you yet :)
    The answer to you're direct question is thus that whilst most kit lenses can achive a good level of magnification and your camera will have an auto macro mode, you won't be able to get true macro shots - closeup work (probably around 1:2 or a little less) yes.
     
  6. PerfectlyFlawed

    PerfectlyFlawed TPF Noob!

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    Oh wow! You rock! You made it make perfect sense! Thank you so much for explaining that! I wonder how cheap of a macro lense I could find..for a cheap decent one what do they go for?
     
  7. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    It varies - partly depending on what comparmises you want and also one what type of subject you want to work with.

    Dealing with current macro lenses which will have fully working features such as auto focus you have the following:
    (ps listing both canon and nikon as you haven't settled on a group yet )

    Nikon/Canon 60mm macro
    Tamron 60mm macro
    Sigma 70mm macro

    Tamron 90mm macro
    Canon/Nikon 100/105mm macro
    Sigma 105mm macro
    Tokina 100mm macro

    Sigma 150mm macro
    Sigma 180mm macro
    Tamron 180mm macro
    Nikon 200mm macro ? (not 100% sure about this one I don't see it used that often so know little about it but I belive its a valid chioce for nikon shooters).

    That is the rough range of modern macro lenses on offer - now if you are after just shooting static subjets like flowers then any of the above lenses will suit your purpose very well. However if you are out to shoot insects then the recomendation is that you start with a macro lens of 90mm or longer in focal length.

    This is because the longer the focal length of the lens the longer the minimum focusing distance (distance from camera sensor to subject) and thus the working distance (distance from the end of the lens to subject) is also longer. This is important for macro insect work as the further away you are the less chance you have of spooking the insect. Its not impossible to use the shorter focal length macro lenses - but it is a harder skill to master.

    Another important point is that whilst the above lenses will differ in focal length and the features of the lens (for example if they have image stabalization or better AF) the image they create at 1:1 (full macro - the closest point they can focus to) will be identical. Remember that 1:1 notes the size of the subject on the image sensor - so it does not matter what the lens is the image size at 1:1 will always be the same*


    If those options are too expensive there is a whole range of differing options for you to try. A popular cheap method is to purchase a set of extension rings and fit them to the kit lens that comes with the camera. The rings are just tubes that fit between camera and lens (they contain not glass) and they reduce the minimum focusing distance of the lens which means you can move closer to the subject and thus achive a macro shot. They will however also remove the infinity focus which will then limit the lens to being able to focus from only a few feet away to only a few millimeters away (how far depends on the lens and how much tube length you add).
    Typically for tubes the Kenko AF tubes are used (made in canon and nikon mounts) since they give a set of 3 differing lengths of tube for about the same price as a single tube from either canon or nikon - and since the tubes all just contain air you gain no advantage to using the higher priced ownbrand tubes.
    The rough maths is that for a given lens if you add the same length of tubing as you have of focal length you will get to 1:1 macro (on a non-macro lens - on a macro lens you start going beyond 1:1).

    Also as you are still at the choosing stages I will mention the Canon MPE65mm macro lens - this lens is a macro zoom and can go from 1:1 to 5:1 macro - that is five times life size. Its not a lens I (nor any who use it) recomend to beginners in macro work since it is a very demanding lens to learn to use even just for acceptable results. Working beyond 2:1 macro things get far more challenging. If you have a burning desire to capture such image as this lens can produce then it might sway you toward canon as they are the only company who make such a lens - there are alternative options if you go for other companies but they will require that you hit ebay and gather up older macro and microscope optics (results are still very impressive from such setups but it requires more custom work especailly in just mounting the lens on the camera). If you search flickr for this lens you can find a wealth of images taken by it and decide for yourself if its something you want to approach. I should note that most people don't approach the MPE and its one of the far rarer lenses in use (even though its price is not** that prohibabtive for many who take photography and their gear to the "next level")

    *in an ideal world - in the real world manufacture tollerances might lead to small differences between differing lenses and even within the production line of the same lens. In the real world shooting conditions such differences will not be noticable nor will they affect the end resulting shot to any great degree.

    ** ok its price is higher now but before current financial problems....
     
  8. PerfectlyFlawed

    PerfectlyFlawed TPF Noob!

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    Im looking into a macro lense. I just bought the D5000 kit w/ the 18-55mm and the 55-200mm lenses... :) so Macro is next!
    I dont think the 55-200 does macro? or am I wrong?
     
  9. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    No the 55-250mm will not do macro shots - however it might have a "macro" lable on the lens itself. This is not true macro, but close focusing and its a marketing move these days to add "macro" to a zoom lens when it can focus closer. Normally its around 1:2 macro which is about enough for good flower and butterfly shots - but you won't be getting flies or smaller detailed shots that a true 1:1 macro lens can achive.
     
  10. Augphoto

    Augphoto TPF Noob!

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    So, can someone tell me how the "pseudo" macro works on a non-true macro lens (a zoom with a macro button). I'ld like to investigate this feature but, when the macro slide (lock) is chosen it prevents the lens from zooming in and out. How is this feature used? How is focusing done? I know focus is critical with macro. I've used lenses with this make-do feature for a long time but, never used the macro capability! I would like to give it a try but, don't have a clue

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  11. PerfectlyFlawed

    PerfectlyFlawed TPF Noob!

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    yeah :( as long as i get some good flower pics out of it.. and maybe some spider webs.. i dunno. macro lens is next on my list...but i can only afford to dish out about 100-150 on one.. at the time.. and i bet thats impossible.
     
  12. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Essentially when you use the macro slider on a zoom lens with close focusing (macro) your zoom will lock (normally at the long end) and then you can adjust the focus of the lens (manual tends to work best but at 1:2 auto focus is often good enough) to get focus on the subject. Often the minimum focusing distance might be around 1 foot in length - however these are very generic estimations - the best way to learn is to do :)

    As for cheaper options in the price range youquote I don't think you will get any modern macro lens. You might have a chance at getting a short second hand one (might) and there are also holder manual focus macro lenses that might be suitable. The problem with older lenses is not that AF is missing (since most macro is done with manual focus) but that you might not get the abilty to control the aperture blades or have to control them manually. This makes things harder because with no aperture control that mean shooting wide open and in macro that means a paper thin depth of field. If you have to close them manually that means shake and time are problems.

    For an ideal workaround you can try three methods with your existing gear:
    1) Raynox DCR 250 - a macro diopter which clips onto the end of the lens (like a filter). This will give you a much reduced minimum focusing distance and thus let you get into the macro world. It will however (whilst the filter is attached) remove infinity focus and that means no ability to focus on further off subjects so you are trapped doing macro whilst the filter is on. The distances will also be very small so you might find sneaking up on insects is a challenge

    2) Extension tubes - Kenko AF tubes are the best for this since they give you the abiltiy to control the aperture of the lens when attached (ultra cheap tubes are on the market at around $/£5 but they lack the contacts and so you get the lack of aperture control). These work the very same as the raynox above, but are a lens extension that fit between lens and camera body. They contain no glass elements and are just a ring so there is no image quality difference between the different brands (which is why no one buys the overpriced canon ones)

    3) Get a 50mm f1.8 lens and a reversing ring (off ebay) and reverse mount this lens onto your zoom lens. This method will give you a lot more magnification than the above two methods. It's also a method that I personally have no experience of using. I would say go for this if you want more extreme magnification but that the above two methods are a better way to start.


    If the exposure terms like "wide open" are confusing I do encourage you to get and read the book Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson
     

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