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07-25-2009, 06:04 AM   #1
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An unfair comparison : macro vs close focusing

I took a picture last year with my Sigma 17-70. I might mention that this picture made it into the PPG It's an echinacea growing. Here it is:



Now I just got myself a FA 50 f2,8 macro, and saw an almost identical scene. I decided to compare the output from both.



Now it is unfair to draw any precise conclusions, as it is not the SAME flower, nor the same light, nor the same year... What's more, the FA has the enormous advantages of much better enlargments (1:1 macro vs 1:2,3) and a larger max aperture. But still, the comparison is interesting...

I used to think that the contrast from the Sigma was top-notch, but it has found its master... The yellow colour cast is probably due to some post-processing, honestly it has been a year and I do not fully remember what I did to that image The Sigma does produce a slight cast, but this comparisons makes it much too dramatic.

07-25-2009, 06:14 AM   #2
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I think its the cast that makes the first image so appealing honestly. because it makes the center of the flower the attention point of the photo.
07-25-2009, 06:25 AM   #3
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I agree with Seamuis, overall the first photo makes a better impression on me. It also makes a point that I totally believe. Judging a lens on a single criteria be it resolution (sharpness) contrast, color rendition or whatever, is a waste of time IMO. You need to take into account the whole of the lens output. Yes, contrast is better in the second photo, but the first is a better photo.

NaCl(climbing down from my soapbox)H2O
07-25-2009, 06:38 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
I agree with Seamuis, overall the first photo makes a better impression on me. It also makes a point that I totally believe. Judging a lens on a single criteria be it resolution (sharpness) contrast, color rendition or whatever, is a waste of time IMO. You need to take into account the whole of the lens output. Yes, contrast is better in the second photo, but the first is a better photo.

NaCl(climbing down from my soapbox)H2O
I totally agree. I did not say that the second photo was better, although the contrast and sharpness ARE better. What's more, I did post-process the first one and did not do anything to the second. And he flower has a more regular structure on the second shot.

My purpose was not to glorify or diminish a lens, sorry if that's what came through. I simply think the comparison is interesting.

07-25-2009, 06:44 AM   #5
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I decided to play a bit with the second image, to see what PP could do (without pushing it). Here's the result:

07-25-2009, 07:53 AM   #6
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Hi, the first one still looks nicer to me.
07-25-2009, 03:53 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by simdavid Quote
Hi, the first one still looks nicer to me.
Ditto. I really think the flower itself is much more beautiful, and that accounts for a part of it...
07-26-2009, 09:28 AM   #8
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I think that's the truth..lol

07-26-2009, 02:59 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
NaCl(climbing down from my soapbox)H2O
Hope you did not break your legs?

First one is better, but I am not the first one who said that.....
07-27-2009, 10:31 AM   #10
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It's the background which makes the first shot, it's more homogeneous. That lets you focus more on the flower, without as distracting a background. Macro lenses do make a huge difference though I find the shallower depth of field a bit tricky trying to get good images of moving subjects...
07-29-2009, 08:47 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
It's the background which makes the first shot, it's more homogeneous. That lets you focus more on the flower, without as distracting a background. Macro lenses do make a huge difference though I find the shallower depth of field a bit tricky trying to get good images of moving subjects...
Sorry about the delay...

I believe the background has some impact, correct. For that specific shot a macro lens was not mandatory, it's not a big enlargment. Most lenses could have gotten that shot.

Macro and moving subjects do not go well together I think. I can't fanthom how people get amazing dragonflies shots, I haven't started trying that yet... The control over DOf is interesting but the strength of a macro, to me, is the possibility to capture minute details.
07-30-2009, 10:23 AM   #12
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All my dragonfly shots have been with zooms. When the temperature is hot you typically can't get close enough to them, they're super-alert. 200mm+ seems required for those shots. Bees and other insects aren't as wary of people, but sometimes the movement means I can't get a good shot - other times I just focus on the flower and start shooting as the bee moves around.

The Tamron 70-300 I have seems sharp enough to get good close zoom pictures. I'm pretty happy with it, though will give the Penax 55-300 a try via rental.
07-30-2009, 10:40 AM   #13
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I agree--I think the flower you shot with the Sigma is more beautiful to begin with.

Strangely enough, I think it's the detail in the FA 50 Macro shot that's distracting from the overall image. You can see the tiny white hairs on every leaf, and it draws you to the outer edge of the flower. In the Sigma shot, the little hairs are yellow and not quite as sharp, so they blend in.

I guess it's like a portrait where you can count the pores--some people do say a lens can be too sharp!

But hey, I'm only saying this because of what you said--if you'd just shown me the second, I'd say "great shot!"
07-30-2009, 03:22 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
All my dragonfly shots have been with zooms. When the temperature is hot you typically can't get close enough to them, they're super-alert. 200mm+ seems required for those shots. Bees and other insects aren't as wary of people, but sometimes the movement means I can't get a good shot - other times I just focus on the flower and start shooting as the bee moves around.

The Tamron 70-300 I have seems sharp enough to get good close zoom pictures. I'm pretty happy with it, though will give the Penax 55-300 a try via rental.
I catch them, kill them and glue them down. Then it's macro all the way!

That's not really true. Sometimes I still use a zoom.
07-30-2009, 05:04 PM   #15
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you could always PP the results. if the first Pentax is just to plain sharp, well hello Adobe.
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