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04-17-2007, 05:54 PM   #1
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Just what is a MACRO?

I see the word MACRO bandied about a lot lately. Years ago I thought it meant a lens that was short focal length, intended for closeup, was excellent for not distorting at close range, and was rather expensive. My wife longed for a MACRO since her first SLR 25 years ago. Ten+ years ago I bought her a used manual prime K1000 lens that meets that criteria: SMC PENTAX-A MACRO 1:2.8 50mm. She now uses it for flowers with her istD and may some day trust me to use it on my K100D.

I have a SIGMA 70-210 Zoom that claims to be a MACRO and costs half the used price of the Pentax. On another thread they discuss a "semi-telephoto MACRO." I have a P&S that has MACRO mode, but does nothing to the physical lens when I select MACRO. Has the term MACRO lost its meaning or does someone have a definition that encompases all these varied lenses.

04-17-2007, 06:05 PM   #2
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Yes, macro has lost its meaning.

You are right about the old days and what it meant then - typically a 50mm or so lens that could focus close enough to make your image 1:1 scale on film and corrected for a flat image plane.

Now, a "Blahblah" zoom lens with "macro" means it can focus down to perhaps 1:2 or 1:3, but maybe only in a portion of its zoom range, such as the Sigma f4-5.6 APO DG Macro that gets to 1:3 but only in the 200-300mm range. The Tamron "Ditto" gets down to 1:2 I believe and focuses closer anyway over the entire FL.

The "macro" setting on a compact changes the aperture for a sharp subject/blurred background.
04-18-2007, 01:23 AM   #3
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You don't have to have a macro lens in order to do macro photography.

Here is a photo of the distance and DOF scales on my Super Takumar 135, taken using an ordinary 55mm lens (which normally has a minimum focus distance of 45cm), 57mm of macro extension tubes, a 2x teleconverter, and a +3 diopter macro filter:



Here's a 100% crop of the same image:



Total investment (including the 55mm lens): under $100.

Last edited by Mike Cash; 04-18-2007 at 01:31 AM.
04-18-2007, 02:52 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
You don't have to have a macro lens in order to do macro photography.

Here is a photo of the distance and DOF scales on my Super Takumar 135, taken using an ordinary 55mm lens (which normally has a minimum focus distance of 45cm), 57mm of macro extension tubes, a 2x teleconverter, and a +3 diopter macro filter:
I hope you don't mind me butting in. I bought a set of extension tubes for my Pentax but find it difficult to focus on a subject. I tried them with different lenses and it would seem that the longer the lens the easier it is to find the focusing 'sweet spot'. Can you tell me what the 2X Teleconvertor and the +3 diopter macro filter do in relation to this issue? Will they help with the focusing issue?

04-18-2007, 03:09 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by J.Scott Quote
I hope you don't mind me butting in. I bought a set of extension tubes for my Pentax but find it difficult to focus on a subject. I tried them with different lenses and it would seem that the longer the lens the easier it is to find the focusing 'sweet spot'. Can you tell me what the 2X Teleconvertor and the +3 diopter macro filter do in relation to this issue? Will they help with the focusing issue?
No, they'll exacerbate it. I only added those two items just for the heck of it to see what the maximum extent of my macro ability was.

The longer the lens the greater actual distance you'll still be from the subject and the greater depth of focus you'll have (although it will still be narrow).

In the shot included in this thread I manually set the focus to its nearest point, held the lens with my left hand, and rested my hand on the same surface the subject was resting on. Then I just gently adjusted the camera position until I had the center in focus. I used bounce flash, with a shutter speed of 1/180. ISO was 800 and I think the aperture was about 5.6. I got the focus in the general neighborhood, then (since I used a screwmount lens and was able to) I stopped down to 5.6 prior to the shot. Although the viewfinder got considerably darker, with the lens stopped down I was better able to judge the focus.
04-18-2007, 05:54 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
You don't have to have a macro lens in order to do macro photography.
Agreed 100% -- this shot of mine in the gallery is almost 3x life size and was taken with a SMC Pentax-M 50mm f1.4 reversed onto a Takumar 135 f2.5:



The DOF is incredibly short but it was using available light (Two 100 watt bulbs overhead), indoors at night, 1/10th of a second, handheld at around f/2.8. I was just playing around. If I'd had the patience to set up my tripod (and then stop down) and straighten out the dollar bill relative to the lens, it could've been tack-sharp.

Last night (after receiving a larger reversing ring) I actually had the 50mm reversed onto my FA 80-320, at 320... got a little over 5x life size! Nothing I can show off, yet (only one 100 watt this time, and the distance to subject is, well, practically nil) -- but still fun. Okay, crazy.
04-18-2007, 06:48 AM   #7
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To me Macro means 1:1 reproduction. Or at least a macro lens is a lens capable of 1:1...
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