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Questions about Macro photography

Jodi_Cook

Des Moines, US
31 posts

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Jodi_Cook Registered since 23rd May 2002
Sun 02-Jun-02 12:05 AM

First of all, is there a difference between micro and macro photography?
Second, how do I tell if my Nikon AF Nikkor 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 G or Nikon AF Nikkow 28-80mm 1:3.3-5.6 G lenses are capable?
Third, what is the best way to take macro photos? Different lenses or are there filters that allow you to get closer as well?

Any other comments or suggestions are welcome!

Ed

US
1618 posts

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#1. "RE: Questions about Macro photography" | In response to Reply # 0

Ed Basic Member
Sat 01-Jun-02 10:28 PM

Generally, micro means shooting at greater than 1:1 magnification, while macro is anything up to 1:1. In Nikon's parlance, "micro" meant lenses capable of 1:2 or higher in the manual focus world, or 1:1 in the AF world. "Macro" is a term they attach lenses capable of at least 1:4.

Your 70-300 is capable of 1:3.9 so it has a "macro" mode.

There are many ways to take macro photos:
- close-up filter attachments such as Nikon No.'s 0, 1, 2, 3, 3T, 4T, 5T, or 6T
- extension tubes such as PK-11A, PK-12, PK-13 and PN-11
- reversing rings such as BR-2A and BR-5
- bellows
- "micro" lenses that achieve 1:1 by themselves

Ed

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Paul_Fisher

Perth, AU
12819 posts

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#2. "RE: Questions about Macro photography" | In response to Reply # 0

Paul_Fisher Silver Member Awarded for his multiple article contributions Charter Member
Sat 01-Jun-02 10:33 PM

First of all, is there a difference between micro and macro photography?

Strictly speaking, macro photography is the use of a suitably equipped camera to take pictures of an object so they appear life size or larger on the negative or chrome. (This is referred to as 1:1)
More commonly, any lens which allows a reasonably large reproduction ratio can be called macro, but I think a line should be drawn around 1:2 (half life size).

Micro photography usually refers to attaching your camera to a microscope. This is also referred to a photomicrography, but nobody can pronounce that.

All manufacturers except Nikon refer to their special close-up lenses as macro. Nikon calls them Micro, but they are really macro.

Second, how do I tell if my Nikon AF Nikkor 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 G is capable?

Look at the specs and you will see the maximum reprodiction ratio is 1:3.9. A lot of makers would call that macro, but it's not really good enough for insects, very small flowers etc.

However, try it out on the types of things you are interested in - 3.9 might be big enough for you.

Third, what is the best way to take macro photos? Different lenses or are there filters that allow you to get closer as well?

There are four basic ways of achieving macro performance.

1. Macro lenses. The Micro-Nikkors are said to be superb, but of course are expensive. If you are on a budget, consider the Tamron 90mm. If you are on a very tight budget, consider the Phoenix / Cosina / Vivitar 100mm macro. It's built like a plastic toy, but has surprisingly good glass for such a cheap lens.

2. Filters. You can get filters (also called close-up lenses or diopters) which will give you better performance. Avoid the cheap single-element type. These typically have extreme field curvature and very mediocre performance. Again, the Nikon product is regarded as the best around. They come in various strengths, and can be stacked.

3. Extension tubes or bellows. By physically moving the lens further away from the film plane you can focus much closer. The advantage of extension tubes is that they have no optical components, so there is nothing ot degrade the performance of your lens. Extension rings usually come as sets which can be used singly or in combination. They are easy to use, but be careful to get a set that preserves your metering and autofocus. Bellows tend to be more fiddly (and expensive) but can give you much greater magnifications.

4. Revers the lens. You can get a simple ring which screws into the filter threads of your lens, and attaches it to the camera arse-about. The front element is facing the camera, and the rear element is pointing at your subject. This can be a cheap and simple way into macro work, as you can use quite a cheap lens for the purpose. Wide angles work best. Of course you lose all autofocus and diaphragm control - this is a fully manual setup. But you can pick up an old manual 35mm or 28mm lens for next to nothing, so it's a very cheap way in.

There are volumes on this subject (try some of John Shaw's books) but I hope this covers your initial questions.

Paul Fisher
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Paul Fisher
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Jodi_Cook

Des Moines, US
31 posts

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#3. "RE: Questions about Macro photography" | In response to Reply # 2

Jodi_Cook Registered since 23rd May 2002
Sat 01-Jun-02 10:55 PM

Thank you for the quick crash course on macro/micro photography. That helps me understand a little more, although it also helps me to realize how much more I have to learn!
Any other tips and hints would be greatly appreciated!

Paul_Fisher

Perth, AU
12819 posts

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#4. "RE: Questions about Macro photography" | In response to Reply # 3

Paul_Fisher Silver Member Awarded for his multiple article contributions Charter Member
Sat 01-Jun-02 11:02 PM

That will tell you all you need to know (and more).

Really successful macro photography requires extra-good technique. I'm working on it, but have a long way to go. One thing I have found is that you can't just go out a blaze away. Careful planning and fore-thought for every shot is the key. Shaw's book is very good in that regard.

Paul Fisher
Visit my homepage
Photography, engineering, musical instruments, family history & genealogy

Paul Fisher
Nikonian in Perth, Western Australia
My home page

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

G