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12-09-2017, 10:57 PM   #1
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Macro lenses for landscape?

It surprises me that even experienced photographers use macro lenses for landscape and other shots that focus at greater distances.

Non macro lens designs give best IQ at longer distances and infinity.
Macro lense differ. They not only allow focussing at close range, they hive best IQ at close range.
For objects at distances from about 2 m and more non macro lense give better IQ.


Surpring to find so many long range shots at reviews for macro lenses. That does not makes sense.



Paul

12-09-2017, 11:24 PM   #2
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There really isn't anything wrong with using a macro lens for distance shots these days. You may find the focusing speed annoying, but optically they're mostly fine.

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12-09-2017, 11:29 PM   #3
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I'm not sure where it came from, but the idea that macro lenses don't perform well at longer focus distances (including infinity) is thoroughly wrong in my experience. I have two, the DA 35mm f/2.8 Limited and the A 50mm f/2.8 limited. Both are extremely sharp at any focus distance and make superb landscape lenses.

Maybe there are some macro lenses for which this isn't true - most are longer focal lengths, 90mm+, while mine are shorter, but I suspect that isn't the case. Macro lenses are designed to be very sharp and to have very low field curvature, neither of which would be detrimental to landscape photography.
12-10-2017, 12:07 AM   #4
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I use my DFA 100mm WR mostly for landscape and portrait and rarely for macro. It is an amazing lens for these purposes. I actually bought it for it’s focal length, sharpness and bokeh and not for it’s macro capabilities.

12-10-2017, 12:17 AM   #5
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The Zeiss 50mm f2 Makro is simply stunning when used for landscape - especially with pixel shift. I will dig up a shot and exhibit.
12-10-2017, 12:51 AM   #6
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You can not beat physics, ever seen a square cirkel?
Only one of two can be optimum, long range or close range.

For marketing purposes manufacturers often compromise and make macro lenses usable for longer distances.
That does not mean they perform as well as well as lenses designed for that purpose.
Even Carl Zeiss moves from optimum macro qualities to more general purpose with their macro designs.

That is why I like Carl Zeiss Macro Planars 120 F5.6 from the sixties and seventies.
The later Macro Planar 120 F4 is a typical compromise.


Paul



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12-10-2017, 01:08 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fluegel Quote
It surprises me that even experienced photographers use macro lenses for landscape and other shots that focus at greater distances.

Non macro lens designs give best IQ at longer distances and infinity.
Macro lense differ. They not only allow focussing at close range, they hive best IQ at close range.
For objects at distances from about 2 m and more non macro lense give better IQ.


Surpring to find so many long range shots at reviews for macro lenses. That does not makes sense.



Paul
But without doubt my DFA 50mm f2.8 macro is my sharpest landscape lens. Accurate across the frame and at all distances. I've compared it with modern zooms, Limiteds (FA and DA). So can't agree, Paul. It's slow to focus, though, but I don't care... Also, I'd say the DFA 100mm f2.8 is up there to, though I've not used it as much.
12-10-2017, 01:16 AM   #8
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i never heard this and find my macro lenses to be high performers for stopped down landscape work. Also, the longer focus throw is an added bonus for dialing in precise manual focus.

I use my 645 A120mm/4 macro for landscape panos too. Here's an album: Lens: 645 A120mm f/4 macro | Flickr

I also have the 645 DFA90.2,8 Macro which I have never used for macro shooting, lol: Lens: 645 DFA 90mm f/2.8 | Flickr[COLOR="Silver"]

---------- Post added 12-10-2017 at 12:19 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Fluegel Quote
...
Only one of two can be optimum, long range or close range....
This is also an inherent challenge of zoom lenses and one reason I prefer primes instead.

12-10-2017, 03:58 AM - 1 Like   #9
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The big Swedish photo magazine "Foto" started in the ~ 1930s, has used Hasselblads lab for lens test for decades (they test lenses, not a lens on camera).
At least on the test I've read, macro lenses has had poorer MTF on 1: 1, better at 1: 2 and best at infinity.
One exception is probably Pentax K 100/4 bellows.
Macro lenses can focus to 1:1 and also give a good sharpness of 1: 1, therefore a more complicated design.
The company that had "Foto" concluded that Foto did not fit into their assortment, so they "killed" the magazine 2-3 years ago.
Technical editor at Foto has started a site objektivtest.se
Here's a google translation on the test of Pentax DFA100 WR:
Google Översätt
The MTF curves fell away in the Google translation:
http://www.objektivtest.se/tester/pentax-d-fa-100-mm-f28-macro-wr-test/

Last edited by Bophoto; 12-10-2017 at 04:31 AM.
12-10-2017, 05:54 AM - 1 Like   #10
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I'm pretty sure my DFA 100mm WR is sharper at infinity than some of my wide angle lenses. Macro lenses tend to be highly corrected and very sharp with a flat field of focus. This is why they are good for landscapes.
If you have a macro lens and another lens of the same FoV you can compare which one gives you better results. Maybe there are better lenses around 100mm for landscapes than the DFA 100mm WR, but I dont own those.
An extreme example is DA 50-200mm zoomed to 100mm. It will never be sharper than the DFA 100mm.

Here is a thread with telephoto landscapes, I posted many with DFA 100mm macro: Post your Telephoto Landscapes! - Page 10 - PentaxForums.com
Lots of amazing landscape shots with telephoto and even long macro lenses. Even though some people seem to think you need wider than 28mm to even attempt a landscape..

Last edited by Na Horuk; 12-10-2017 at 07:38 AM.
12-10-2017, 06:19 AM - 1 Like   #11
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Examples please. Show us a side-by-side comparison with a 'landscape lens' and any reasonably modern macro where the manufacturer claims it works well for distance shooting.

Where a macro is optimized to perform at it's best starts to be irrelevant when it performs above a users needs at all distances.
12-10-2017, 07:08 AM   #12
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My first 1:1 macro did indeed underperform focussed from a few meters to infinity. This was a Tamron SP 90/2.8 (first generation). I sold it to fund my Sigma EX 180/3.5 macro instead (needed extra working distance). This lens however does fine at all focus distances, in as much that it became my favourite lens for shooting wildlife (macro and other) in dense tropical forrest.

Other macro lenses I added to my kit in more recent (and affluent) years never exhibited this near focus limited useability. These are the FA50/2.8, DA35/2.8 limited and DFA100/2.8 WR. I regularily use all these at long focus distance. They all beat my zooms (DA* and DFA) every time when it comes to sharpness across the board.

So perhaps this specialization is simply a thing of the past (=outdated designs?).

Wim
12-10-2017, 07:26 AM   #13
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Perhaps a good time to experience what true macro lenses can do at close range?

MTF data from Zeiss show true macro lenses, meaning those with high IQ at close range are less usefull at infinity.
High resolution and low distortion at close range can only be achieved at the cost of less IQ at long distances and infinity.
A typical Carl Zeiss design for macro like the 120 S-Planar shows less than 0,2 % distortion at close range

I did not use the 100/4 K series macro lens I have for Pentax at infinity yet.
Maybe wait till I can put my hands on a prime non macro 100 mm lens to compare the results.

Paul
12-10-2017, 07:33 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fluegel Quote
MTF data from Zeiss show true macro lenses, meaning those with high IQ at close range are less usefull at infinity.
We are making the claim that many modern macro primes are so good, even at their "less effective" range, that they beat many non-macro lenses of similar Focal length.
Go to DXO and compare HD DA 35mm f2.8 macro and DA 35mm f2.4, DFA 50mm macro and DA 50mm f1.8. The macros win. And I think those resolution tests are done at infinity. But some premium lenses will beat even the macros, like DA* 55mm might be sharper than DFA 50mm in centre frame at infinity.

The problem is that lenses are so complex that making a statement "macro lenses are weak around infinity" cannot be valid. Maybe for some, maybe depends what you compare it to, but definitely many macro lenses are stunning at all focus distances

My landscape photos with DFA 100mm macro:
https://500px.com/photo/147538137/
https://500px.com/photo/238644137
How many lenses come close to this resolution? Only more expensive ones

Last edited by Na Horuk; 12-10-2017 at 07:47 AM.
12-10-2017, 07:34 AM - 1 Like   #15
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It may be technically true that macro lenses are optimized for closer focusing and other lenses are optimized for infinity, but two important issues mean that macro lenses may be excellent landscape lenses, too.

First, just because something is optimized for one thing does not mean that it's bad or ill-suited for something else. A macro lens might have high performance at infinity even if it's highest performance is at closer distances.

Second, focusing distance is not the only optimization dimension. Other dimensions include optimization for larger apertures, optimization for corner-to-corner sharpness, optimization for field flatness, optimization for physical size, optimization for fast focusing, etc.

If you truly believe that a lens can only have one optimum point and must be "bad" for everything else, then almost every lens is probably "bad" for landscape because it's probably optimized for something else.

But if you look at how all these competing optimization dimensions effect each other and performance on landscapes, then you realize that macro lenses are likely to perform extremely well on landscapes because they are optimized for corner-to-corner sharpness, field flatness, and high performance at modest apertures. Even if macro lenses are not optimized for infinity, they are optimized for three out of four dimensions that are important for landscape.
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