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Choosing a macro lens

From: Foundations of Photography: Macro and Close-Up

Video: Choosing a macro lens

If you've been watching the movies in this course in order, then you've now done some close-up and macro shooting using very affordable gear. I'm hoping you're finding you enjoy a macro approach to the world. You should also have seen that lens reversal, point-and-shoot cameras, and extension tubes are completely viable, very effective macro tools. But, as you've seen, they have some shortcomings. Extension tubes cut light. Lens reversal takes away your aperture control. If you've played with a close-up lens, you've probably found it didn't give you a tremendous amount of magnification. And, all three tools have issues with edge sharpness.

Choosing a macro lens

If you've been watching the movies in this course in order, then you've now done some close-up and macro shooting using very affordable gear. I'm hoping you're finding you enjoy a macro approach to the world. You should also have seen that lens reversal, point-and-shoot cameras, and extension tubes are completely viable, very effective macro tools. But, as you've seen, they have some shortcomings. Extension tubes cut light. Lens reversal takes away your aperture control. If you've played with a close-up lens, you've probably found it didn't give you a tremendous amount of magnification. And, all three tools have issues with edge sharpness.

If these problems are frustrating you, and you want to continue with macro shooting, then it's time to start considering a true macro lens. Now, that said, we are not going to abandon extension tubes, and close-up lenses, and lens reversal. As you will see, these tools will continue to be useful, because they can be combined with macro lenses. As you saw earlier, a macro label on a lens doesn't always mean that a lens is truly a macro. Unfortunately, the word "macro" is often used as a marketing tool. A true macro lens is one that has a minimum focusing distance that is so short that you can get a one-to-one size ratio. That is, the actual size of the object that you're shooting is the same as the image that is projected onto the camera's sensor.

I am not talking about output size, because you can display or print at any size. I am talking about being able to fill the frame with your subject. Now, most macro lenses are also flat field lenses. This means that, rather than being sharper in the middle than at the edges, like most lenses, they are sharp all the way across. The idea is that they're better suited for shooting flat subjects. Finally, in most cases, a macro lens can also be used as a regular lens. Yes, they can focus very close, but most macro lenses can also focus all the way to infinity, so you can use them just like any other lens.

When choosing a macro lens, you are going to have to work through all of the same concerns that you'd consider when choosing a non-macro lens. So, if you haven't already looked at my Foundations of Photography Lenses course, you may want to check that out before we move on to look at specific macro lens features.

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Image for Foundations of Photography: Macro and Close-Up
Foundations of Photography: Macro and Close-Up

47 video lessons · 15493 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 3m 54s
    1. Welcome
      2m 17s
    2. What you need to know for this course
      1m 37s
  2. 20m 33s
    1. What is close up?
      2m 21s
    2. Understanding minimum focus distance
      3m 55s
    3. Comparing wide lens and telephoto
      1m 55s
    4. Understanding depth of field and focus
      2m 11s
    5. Working with extension tubes
      4m 30s
    6. Working with close-up lenses
      5m 41s
  3. 28m 7s
    1. What is a macro photo?
      4m 15s
    2. Understanding how to shoot macro with a reversed lens
      5m 37s
    3. Using a point-and-shoot camera for macro
      1m 55s
    4. Working with backdrops for macro
      3m 45s
    5. Practicing macro by shooting in the kitchen
      12m 35s
  4. 58m 38s
    1. Choosing a macro lens
      2m 4s
    2. Exploring macro lens features: Focal length
      3m 16s
    3. Understanding macro lens shutter speed
      7m 6s
    4. Shooting basics with a macro lens
      8m 24s
    5. Getting closer with macro lenses and extension tubes
      11m 13s
    6. Working with depth of field and macro
      5m 1s
    7. Understanding depth and composition in macro
      6m 43s
    8. Working with subject holders and support
      6m 36s
    9. Shooting with the Canon 65 mm
      8m 15s
  5. 13m 12s
    1. Working with macro stabilizing options
      5m 45s
    2. Working with sliders for macro
      2m 44s
    3. Working with a bellows
      1m 55s
    4. Working with viewfinders in macro
      2m 48s
  6. 52m 59s
    1. Working with direct light
      6m 13s
    2. Macro and the angle of light
      2m 24s
    3. Augmenting direct light with reflectors
      6m 42s
    4. Continuous lighting to add fill to a macro shot
      5m 55s
    5. Lighting your macro scene with continuous light
      4m 50s
    6. Lighting the macro scene with strobes
      4m 59s
    7. Setting up a macro-specific flash unit
      3m 21s
    8. Shooting with the Canon Macro Twin Lite
      7m 56s
    9. Shooting macro in a light tent
      3m 31s
    10. Shooting macro on a light table
      7m 8s
  7. 19m 44s
    1. Field shooting for macro, starting at home
      7m 5s
    2. Managing backgrounds in the field
      7m 39s
    3. Shooting macro water droplets
      5m 0s
  8. 56m 19s
    1. Creating a simple manual focus stack
      4m 40s
    2. Creating a focus stacked image with manual merge
      6m 17s
    3. Creating a focus stacked image using Helicon Remote
      11m 6s
    4. Working with a StackShot rail for focus stacking
      11m 46s
    5. Merging a focus stack with Photoshop
      11m 12s
    6. Merging photo stacks with Helicon
      6m 53s
    7. Understanding the aesthetics of depth of field
      4m 25s
  9. 1m 5s
    1. Next steps
      1m 5s

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