what makes macro lenses special?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by florenceinitaly, Jan 9, 2010.

  1. florenceinitaly

    florenceinitaly TPF Noob!

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    Hi,

    For macro photography, I'm confused as to what distinguishes "macro" lenses from regular prime lenses. For example (I use the sony a500), there's a 50mm F2.8 macro lens, and then a 50mm F1.8 prime lens.

    What is it about the "macro" lens that would enable it to do things the 50mm F1.8 prime lens can't? Can you take "macro" pictures with the prime lens rather than the macro lens?
     
  2. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    1:1

    That's it, pretty much.

    Macro lenses let you get close, real close. A postage stamp, for example, would fill the entire frame - and then some.
     
  3. Pugs

    Pugs TPF Noob!

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    A macro lens will allow much closer focusing distances so that you can get more magnification of a subject, or rather, less reduction of the subject.
     
  4. florenceinitaly

    florenceinitaly TPF Noob!

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    And say if I tried to take the same picture with the 50mm F1.8 prime lens, it wouldn't be able to focus at such a close up distance?
     
  5. florenceinitaly

    florenceinitaly TPF Noob!

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    ohh i see, so is there a "spec" on the camera to tell you how close you can focus on the subject?
     
  6. Pugs

    Pugs TPF Noob!

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    No.
     
  7. TJ K

    TJ K No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The Macro part.
     
  8. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yes, and it will be expressed as a ratio. A macro lens will be 1:1.

    A "Normal" lens will be something like 1:3.

    The spec is on the lens though - not the camera.

    EDIT

    Also, don't confuse this with the aperture. Some lenses will say "1:2.8" (for example) on them - this only means that the maximum aperture of the lens is f/2.8.
     
  9. florenceinitaly

    florenceinitaly TPF Noob!

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    lol

    How about choosing between different focal lengths of macro lenses (ie. 50mm, 100mm vs 200mm), i know a 200mm would let you shoot from further distance...but if i had a 200mm macro lens and walked right up to a flower petal, will it focus?
     
  10. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yes.

    All that changes is how close you have to be to attain 1:1. Longer lens lets you be farther away (which is generally good).

    My 100mm Macro, for example, does 1:1 at about 6 inches from the front of the lens.
     
  11. florenceinitaly

    florenceinitaly TPF Noob!

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    i see, that likely explains why the price difference increases a lot between a 50mm to 100mm to 200mm macro lens.

    Does someone mind defining to me what the 1:1 thing means for macro photography?
     
  12. milesy

    milesy TPF Noob!

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    1:1 just means that you can focus on something (say a fly) and it will fill the entire size of the sensor where as 1:3 for example means that something willonly fill 1/3 of the sensor
     

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