Want to get an extreme close up shot of an object and still have the shot be in focus? Using a macro lens is great for achieving that shot and maintaining the detail of the object. In this movie, authors Richard Harrington and James Ball discuss how you can use a macro lens to shoot a highly detail close up of an object.
- In our last segment, we were having difficulty achieving focus at critical distances. In that case, Jim, what type of lens works well in this scenario? - Well, if you're just trying to get super, super tight on something and you're inside the minimum focus of your lens, there's a specialty lens, a specialty prime lens called a macro lens. - And that's what I've got here. And I've got one from Sony attached, and this particular one has a nice benefit. On the side here, I can actually switch from different focus ranges. I can go from that says from 0.2 meters, minimum focus distance to 0.5, from 0.5 to infinity, or I could flip this over and say, full, and then it's really behaving, not really like a macro lens, but more like a, in this case, a 90 millimeter street lens, where it's just a more typical portrait lens.
So when I need to, want to use this as a micro lens, I really need to think about it. Am I going from 0.2 meters to half a meter? Or from half a meter all the way out? It really just depends. In this case, we're really pretty close. 0.2 is a shallow distance here. We're not talking very far from the subject. What do you have going on there? - In the video camera world, I'm using a still lens. And that's another part of the economics of owning all these prime lenses. A macro lens, I could rent. A cinema style, to purchase would be out of the question.
And because it's a specialty lens that I don't use very much, I either am going to own it, something affordable like a still lens. This is about $500. - Right. - Or I'm going to rent it. - And a lot of times, because it's such a specialty lens, renting it can be difficult. They don't keep a lot of these in stock at a lot of the rental shops, so it could be a little bit difficult to get it every time. So having your own lens, just a photography style still lens, whether you're shooting photos or video, can be quite helpful. - Yah. And this isn't much of a compromise, either.
Having a $500 lens that I can use anytime I want, I don't have to plan which specific time I'm going to rent it, because I'm paying for it that day, I can have it around, use it infrequently, but whenever I want is a really, really great benefit. - Why I love the shot you have here. What you've done is you've placed the logo clearly in focus, and so if this was a product shot, this is kind of nice. We see the logo in focus, and then we see the numbers, in this case the markings of the lens, and it's got a certain aesthetic quality.
Although, if I was the lens manufacturer, while I might like that shallow depth of field, I think I'd like a few more of those markings in focus, so you can adjust the aperture and split the difference, right? To see a little bit more? Because, right now, you're kind of wide open. - So, right, if I'm trying to see a little bit more in focus, 'cause the macro is so close, it's just a sliver of depth of field, I'm going to jack up my ISO so I can get more stop, because it's video so I can't change the shutter angle. Although it is a still-life, so I could actually make the shutter be a little wider open, so I'm giving myself a lot of stop.
Now I can start stopping down and give myself enough. You can already see a few more numbers are in focus. Like I got 10, I've got 15, I've got almost 30. I can keep jacking up the ISO, just to show you, and keep stopping down. And I can really manage that depth of field. Now, I can do this with filters too. I could use diopters, and stick them on the front of a conventional lens, but that limits your focus range.
You have to switch out pieces of glass to dictate how much range, how close, how far away, and it's only a small sliver. Having the dedicated lens to it is optically better and you have more versatility. - And this absolutely comes into play in the still world as well. For example, let's say we were doing a product shot here. In this case, I'm going to go to manual-focus, because if I'm in auto-focus, one of the things that drives me nuts is that it can be very difficult as you're working with these. So let's just knock that out of focus, and you see that it tends to rack a lot.
Now we can move that focus point around a little. It found it. But I prefer manual-focus here, especially because it has the tendency to punch in and make it easier. Now this type of feature is useful. You see that little red box there. I can move around a navigator to set on the screen what I want to focus on. So, in this case, the logo. And so now, as I manually adjust that and it snaps into focus, I can see, here, well, at f10, that's pretty good, but let's be honest, actually, the logo's not completely clean.
If we take a look at that there, we've got a decent amount of focus. We'll turn off the displays there, and from front to back, it looks pretty good. Now, if I adjust the aperture, and we go much shallower, I'm shooting in aperture-priority mode here, which is very popular for still shooters. As I open up the aperture, you'll notice that the shutter speed automatically adjusts. Well now, the back edge here has fallen out of focus, and just the logo is in focus, if that was what we were trying to draw attention to. If I go to manually focus here you'll see well, in fact, the whole logo's not in focus.
This is kind of difficult. And so, this is not ideal. Usually, macro shooters are trying to get one of two things. Sometimes they're going for that shallow depth of field, so they want that extreme control there, and that's why these lenses go all the way open, just like you had there. Other times, though, it's all about seeing more. So if I change this aperture, and go all the way to the other end, a lot of lenses stop at f16. This one goes all the way to f22. And so now, as I check focus there, everything is pretty much in focus from front to back.
I can see all that detail, all the way through here. And if it's important, and we take a look at that in manual-focus as we move around, we can see that that thread-count stays nice and sharp. And we can tweak that there. That feels pretty good. And, of course, that's a digital enlargement, it punches in. But let's just fire off a still, and it took a shot. Now, Jim, with f22 and keeping it low ISO 100, what's the trade off here? If you're trying to do that small an aperture on a macro lens, hand-held shooting's not really an option, is it? - Yah, well, that's not the idea with macro photography anyway.
I mean, you're there to clearly see something, often the size of a postage stamp or closer, so you want to really be able to focus on it and get a headache. I mean, motion is amplified the tighter you are, so you certainly don't want to make your audience ill, so you're going to lock it off. And, also, you want to be careful about the balance between those kinds of variables, achieving deeper depth of field by going to a 22 probably wouldn't be the best choice. Most lenses don't perform optimally at their closed-down, little tiny hole of aperture.
But for these purposes, you can see, you'll pick and choose the right balance of ISO versus shutter angle or stop, and get what works right for you. - So let's split this here. Let's go to something a little more reasonable, and around f16. Looks like we've got pretty good focus. I'll actually invoke auto-focus here. Let it hit. It feels pretty solid. And that's at 1.6 seconds. Now, if I was shooting in an environment such as held-hand or shooting nature, remember, on a modern camera these days, we definitely can pump up that ISO, particularly if we're shooting stills with noise reduction, it's going to be a lot easier to use higher ISOs than video.
Here's ISO 2000, and now we're down to a thirteenth of a second. That would definitely work for hand-held shooting, and this particular lens even has optical steady shot, or image stabilization on it. So this is designed if I was out there shooting nature, flowers, hand-held, maybe using a mono-pod ideally, or hand-held with elbows tucked in, I could, in combination of higher ISO speeds plus using these stabilization, get some pretty good focus shots, but this is all about controlling that depth of field, often extending that depth of field.
And, Jim, I don't know, it sounds like you're a pretty big believer. Is this the type of lens that any serious photographer or DP should try to add to their kit? - Sure. Absolutely. I consider it a very important piece of equipment. I mean, the world of film-making and still photography is about variable focal lengths, variable perspectives. So very, very, very super close is part of that world. I mean, it's beyond the scope of what our eyes usually see, so it can be a very powerful, effective shot. - All right.
Well, we got another benefit to talk about, and that is control when shooting in low-light situations.
In this course, Rich Harrington joins cinematographer James Ball for a detailed look at the pros and cons of using prime lenses for both photography and video projects. Together, they look at practical implications of shooting with primes as well as creative opportunities and challenges.
- Understanding prime lenses
- Adapting lenses to specific cameras
- Identifying benefits and challenges when working with prime lenses
- Working with specialty prime lenses: macro and Lomography lenses
- Exploring options with a shallow depth of field
- Strategies for success with prime lenses