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So, let's say you are out in the world, and you see the cool, small thing, or the fascinating detail, and you get in close with your lens, and you frame up the perfect shot, but when you have pressed the shutter button to focus, the camera just hunts around, and it never locks on. This is going to be the first big problem that you are going to encounter with close-up shooting. Sometimes, you simply won't be able to get your lens to focus when you're in close. This happens because every lens has a minimum focus distance; inside that distance, your lens won't be capable of focusing.
For example, if your lens has a minimum focus distance of 8 inches, then you'll have to be at least 8 inches from your subject for the camera to focus. Now, if you are using a zoom lens, that minimum focus distance is the same, no matter what focal length you have the lens set to. This means that I may not be able to solve my focus problem by changing camera position and focal length. Here's what I mean. Let's say I want to take a picture of this flower. So, I am going to come in here, and frame up my shot the way that I want. And, I really want my shot to fill the whole frame, and I can't get it in focus.
No matter where I turn the focus ring, it's still just a little bit soft. If I pull my camera back . . . Oh, okay, now I can get in focus, but I can't really fill the frame the way that I want to. So, you might think, "Well, I will go wider and then come in. "Well, no. Now, I am inside the minimum focusing distance. I cannot get this lens to focus if it's any closer than here. It does not matter what focal length I am at. Now, you can look up the minimum focus distance in your camera's manual or your lens's manual.
The focus distance markings on your lens might tell you what the minimum focus distance is, but you can't always count on this. For example, on this lens, the closest focus distance that is shown is 0.7 meters, or 2.3 feet. But it also has this area here, which says Macro. Now, this is actually all kind of annoying, because this macro range that it's indicating does not turn the lens into a macro lens; it's simply indicating that when you're down here in this zone, you're in the closest focusing range.
So, macro on here doesn't mean that I have a true macro lens. But it also doesn't tell me what the minimum focusing distance is, because this lens can focus closer than 0.7 meters. If I look in the manual, I learn what the minimum focusing distance is 1.48 feet or 0.45 meters. Now, you might think, "Why should I care what the exact minimum focusing distance is? I will just see how close I can get." And, you're right. You can figure out your lens's minimum focus distance simply by seeing how close you can get to a subject, and still achieve focus.
But if you have multiple lenses, it's worth knowing their minimum focusing distances, especially if their focal length ranges overlap. For example, I have this Canon 24-105mm, which has a minimum focusing distance of 1.48 feet or 0.45 m, but I also have this Canon 16-35. Now, focal length-wise, I've got some overlap. Both lenses have a range of 24 to 35 mm, but the minimum focusing distance on the 16-35 is only 0.92 feet, as compared to the 24-105's 1 1/2 feet.
So, as long as I don't need those longer focal lengths, I can actually get closer with this lens than with this lens. In other words, if I investigate my minimum focus distance, I learn that I can get closer with my wide-angle lens than with my longer lens, which might seem counterintuitive simply because we think of long lenses as the way to get close-ups. This brings us to our next question. When working close-up, is it better to shoot with a shorter or longer focal length? We are going to look at that question in the next movie.
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