Monday, 13 June 2016

Macro Madness - What Is Macro Photography & Macro Lenses

Welcome to Macro Madness Monday, the series in which I try my hand at 'true' macro photography. In these likely sporadic posts (as I'm sure you can understand, life can hinder shooting at times) I'll be learning, and sharing the in's and out's of shooting with true macro lenses...for those who aren't in the loop, unlike normal lenses a true macro lens reproduces what you are shooting in a 1:1 ratio. Put simply, if you are shooting something that is 1cm it is reproduced on your camera's sensor at 1cm.

As I stated in my first post in this series, you mention macro photography to someone and they instantly think bug and/or flower photography. Whilst this comes up a lot it is to my knowledge, or rather in my opinion, not strictly the meaning. I say in my opinion because in researching this post (Googling), a task I thought would be relatively easy, I didn't find two peoples definitions that all seriousness it was headache inducing!

I think to best convey what macro photography is in my opinion, I should really answer two questions...

What is Macro Photography?

In my mind, buried somewhere within the pain caused by researching this subject, macro photography is simply close up and extreme close up photography of any subject using a macro lens. It's those last four words that for me make all the difference. It's those words that in my mind take the photography from just 'still life' or 'close up' photography to 'macro' photography. I do at present have a slight internal conflict going on however, the subject of which; must the macro lens be used at it's closest focal distance or not for it to truly be macro photography?...I'll let you decide for yourself because if there's one thing I've found researching macro photography, there's as many opinions on the subject as there are macro lenses out there...actually, there's probably more!

And secondly...
What is a Macro Lens?

From my tireless and painful research for a lens to be deemed a 'true' macro lens depends solely on it's reproduction ratio. A 'true' macro lens has a reproduction ratio of 1:1 at it's closest focal distance. This means the subject you are shooting appears life size on your sensor, something you don't get with 'normal' lenses. 'Normal' lenses can have a reproduction ratio between 1:5 and 1:2, and quite probably ratios outside of that range. To give you a quick example, lets say you are shooting a 12mm ant... If you shoot it, at the closest focal length using a 'normal' lens with a 1:5 reproduction ratio it will appear 2.4mm on your sensor, 5 times smaller than in life. If however you use a 'true' macro lens at the closest focal length, it will appear 12mm on your sensor, filling more of your frame.

Another aspect of macro lenses that differs to that of 'normal' lenses is minimum focal distance. Due to some sorcery, or fae...ok it's probably the optics and their placement within the lens, a 'true' macro lens can focus a hell of a lot closer to a subject than a 'normal' lens. For example, the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4g has a minimum focal distance of 2.79 ft, yet Nikon's macro lens of the same focal length the Micro Nikkor 85mm f/3.5g has a minimum focal distance of 0.9 ft

There you have it, what macro photography is, to me, I'm off to find some paracetamol.


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