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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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