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01-23-2011, 03:53 AM   #1
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long range macro lenses?

hey guys just a question about macro lenses. so i was under the impression that a macro lens took very close up sharp pictures, but you must be close to the actual object. does a 200mm macro lens take both macro and telephoto shots? or does it just preform both functions? or can you take a macro quality shot from very far away? confusing stuff for a rookie like me!

01-23-2011, 04:45 AM   #2
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Certainly can be confusing. But don't worry, it's all in the details of the lens.
Macro is as it says takes closeups, but the actual magnification you get with the lenses will determine how much your subjects will be 'blown up' on the image. Most macro lenses are either 1:1 (life-size magnification on 35mm film) or 1:2 (half-size). So whether you have a 50mm, a 100mm or a 200mm lens, if they're all 1:1, then the maximum magnification of subjects with these lenses will be the same - it's only the perspective (and the depth of field) as well as the working distance between the lens and the subject that will differ between them.

Macro lenses can easily double up as a normal/telephoto prime - they all have the ability to focus to infinity, and most of these lenses perform remarkably well in that department.

Hope that helps.
01-23-2011, 05:16 AM   #3
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For a particular size image in the viewfinder, the longer the focal length, the greater the distance to the subject. Always.

This works for both close-up (macro) and distant subjects.

In fact, the distance from the lens to the subject - called the "working distance" is directly proportional to the focal length; ie, if you double the focal length, you also double the distance to the subject.

The equation is: working.distance = focal.length(1+subject.width/image.width)

You asked:
"does a 200mm macro lens take both macro and telephoto shots?" - yes

"can you take a macro quality shot from very* far away?" - yes - (see above) for example, a 200mm lens will always be twice as far from the subject as a 100mm lens for the same size image.

Dave

*but the distance for a macro image is never "very far". For a 1:1 magnification (image size = subject size) the distance from the subject to the image is always four times the focal length.

Last edited by newarts; 01-23-2011 at 05:21 AM.
01-23-2011, 11:13 AM   #4
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Very long lenses can be used for macro shooting. Back in the day, I'd put an Olympus Pen-FT (same frame size as an APS-C dSLR) on a shoulder mount, then lots of extension (bellows + tubes), then a Spiratone 400mm long lens. I'd use that rig for shooting closeups (but not macros) of rattlesnakes in daylight from a safe distance, like 3m away.

And there is the problem. Long lenses require a LOT of extension to give you macro shots from a distance. A macro camera lens has that extension built into it. Other lenses don't, so extension must be added, and it becomes clumsy. My longest macro camera lens is 90mm; its body extends to 180mm for 1:1 magnification. I often use a 162mm enlarger lens on bellows and tubes for both macro and non-macro shooting (what you call telephoto) but it requires over 300mm of extension to reach 1:1. And a 200mm camera macro lens extends out to 400mm.

(I say "camera macro lens" to distinguish such from a "bellows macro lens" which is like an enlarger lens, with no focusing body.)

The advantage of a longer lens is greater working distance. No non-reversed lens can focus closer than its focal length. No matter how much extension is behind a 50mm lens, no matter how much magnification it's extended for, it can never focus closer than 50mm. So with any amount of extension, the working distance for maximum magnification is the lens' focal length. Thus in a small studio, we use a short (28-35-50mm) lens, and out in the field, we usually use a longer (90-150-200mm) lens.

I'll also mention that much macro work requires a tripod or other such steady support. But long-macro setups need not be expensive. Simple macro tubes are cheap, well under US$10 per set. Bellows are often in the US$30-40 range. Inexpensive 300-400mm camera lenses abound, or you can find ~200mm enlarger lenses for under US$30. Lens+tubes+bellows+tripod will cost rather less than a dedicated 200mm camera macro lens.

01-23-2011, 07:37 PM   #5
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wow great information. i am still new to DSLR photography and my knowledge of lenses is basic at best. some of this information went over my head (well a lot of it to be honest). but my question was answered! thanks a lot!!! now i just need to do a little more research about bellows, tubes, and enlarger lenses.
01-23-2011, 08:40 PM   #6
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Some answers

Hi ...nowaves and welcome to the forum.
One of the nice things about true macros is that they can take both close ups and "normal" photos. For instance the same lens that took this shot

also took this one

In fact some people prefer the middle range macro lenses (70mm to 105mm) for portrait shots.
What a longer range macro (90mm to 200mm) allows you to do is to stay a bit farther away from your subject while still getting the macro shot. This is good for skittish insects, or like RioRico says above, dangerous ones. For instance I don't think I'd want to take a macro of a hornet with a 50mm lens!

NaCl(Hope that helps)H2O
01-24-2011, 02:32 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by wehavenowaves! Quote
thanks a lot!!! now i just need to do a little more research about bellows, tubes, and enlarger lenses.
Search for MACRO threads here and you'll find tons of help about the basics and details of macro shooting. If you want to get serious about it, buy and read the bible of field work: FIELD PHOTOGRAPHY, by Alfred Blaker, still available dirt-cheap at Amazon.

Enlarger lenses: I'm stocking up on more of them, but I'll leave you a couple. Enlarger lenses (EL's) necessarily have flatfield edge-to-edge sharpness, and you don't pay for a focusing mechanism -- that's what a bellows is for. EL's longer than 80mm can reach infinity focus on bellows and can just as well take shots like Salty's, above, as can a dedicated camera macro lens. One advantage of a dedicated lens is that it retains all automation, making it easier to work with flash. Such automation doesn't exist with most simple bellows+tubes setups.

I'll often be found wandering around with an EL on tubes and bellows, shooting stuff both very close and far away. My favorite toy at the moment is a combo I bought a few weeks ago for US$40, a very small Bellowscope with a fine German 100/4.5 lens. Total weight with adapter and metal hood: 360g. That 100mm lens, good for portraits also, goes to 3x magnification on the Bellowscope; a good Japanese 50mm EL that I just bought for US$5 will go to 12x magnification. That should be macro enough for almost anyone! Or, for a bit more elbow-room, I'll put 40mm or 60mm of (US$8) on a fine US-made 162mm EL (US$7). Yeah, I'm cheap.

I read a poll that the happiest photographers shoot macros. Get happy!
01-24-2011, 08:40 AM   #8
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so with an extenstion tube you have no auto focus. does that mean you have no control over the shutter speed as well???

01-24-2011, 12:17 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by wehavenowaves! Quote
so with an extenstion tube you have no auto focus. does that mean you have no control over the shutter speed as well???
Some (rare) extension tubes allow autofocus (AF). Some people buy teleconverters (TC's) with AF, then remove the glass, so they function as AF tubes. IMHO these are only cost-effective options when using short AF lenses, because more extension (buying more tubes) is needed to get much magnification. And AF tubes and TC's ain't cheap.

And AF isn't really needed in most macro work. Where the system wants to focus may not be where YOU want to focus. With manual-focus lenses, you can use Catch-In-Focus to serve as a cheap AF if desired. I do that a lot.

No, you don't lose control over shutter speed. That's completely in the camera. More significant is aperture automation (AA). Some extension tubes and TC's support AA but not AF; they're cheaper than their AF kin, but costlier than simple tubes. With this automation, using flash is fairly simple, using A or F or FA or DA lenses. Without it, you need to control light manually: ambient light, external lights, etc.

All this with AF and AA involve camera lenses, with focusing mounts. Enlarger and projector and bellows-macro and other non-focusing lenses never had any focus nor aperture automation, so you just handle those as any other totally manual glass.
___________________________________________________________________________

Some examples:

* I can put my FA50/1.4 on a couple AA TC's (glass removed) that total 52mm thick. It now does 1:1 magnification with camera control over the aperture, so I can use a ringflash or other flash setup easily. Or I can focus on something with the aperture wide open, which then stops-down to take the shot.

* I can put my M50/1.7 on the same TC's, but I must set the aperture manually, and flash is a pain. Because the TC's contain a mechanical aperture linkage, I can put the camera in M(anual) mode and use the Green button to take exposure readings and set the exposure for a shot.

* I can put the M50/1.7 on simple cheap macro tubes. Then the lens acts as a preset -- wherever I set the aperture, that's where it is. Now I can work in Av mode: just set the aperture, aim, focus, and shoot. I can put any enlarger lens on cheap tubes and/or bellows, or put any totally-manual lens on the camera, and it works the same way.

Yeah, there's lots of stuff to learn here: the differences between electrical and mechanical linkages, the limitations of various setups, how various lenses behave with extension or reversal or whatever. But what it boils down to is this:

* A Raynox macro adapter on a modern lens gives great results, doesn't cost a lot, and is easy.
* A dedicated camera macro lens is most convenient and easy, and gives best results, but costs the most.
* You can do macro real cheap with a reversed prime lens, but you must work REAL close, under two inches.
* You can do quality macro with tubes, bellows, and cheap enlarger lenses, but light can be tricky.
* People have been shooting macro since long before any automation was available.

Keep studying. Keep asking questions. Have fun!

Last edited by RioRico; 01-24-2011 at 01:34 PM.
01-24-2011, 12:21 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by wehavenowaves! Quote
so with an extenstion tube you have no auto focus. does that mean you have no control over the shutter speed as well???
It depends on the extension tubes. You don't necessarily lose AF and usually you keep auto aperture as well. Shutter speed has nothing to do with the lens, it's a camera operation, so you cannot lose control of that no matter what extension tubes you're using.
01-24-2011, 05:04 PM   #11
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The pentax SMCP-FA* 200mm f/4 ED IF Macro is excellent for both 1:1 macro and distant subjects. However the Sigma 180mm f/3.5 suffers from image quality degradation when subjects approach infinity on the distance scale. At infinity, my sigma 100-300mm f/4 Zoom can beat the sigma 180mm f/3.5 at any aperture.
01-24-2011, 07:55 PM   #12
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the Sigma 150 is still on my wishlist. I might just get it for the SD1. also considering getting the Sigma 85 for that mount as well.
01-24-2011, 08:31 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxor Quote
the Sigma 150 is still on my wishlist. I might just get it for the SD1. also considering getting the Sigma 85 for that mount as well.
When is that 150 coming? Do you know a release date?
01-24-2011, 09:58 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Laurentiu Cristofor Quote
When is that 150 coming? Do you know a release date?
presumably in the middle of 2011 - Sigma added an optical stabilizer to it.
01-24-2011, 10:10 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Laurentiu Cristofor Quote
When is that 150 coming? Do you know a release date?
no idea. although the cheap price of the non-OS version which are available in other mounts are very tempting and makes me consider getting a D700 or D300s and 7D.
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