What makes a lens a macro lens?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by cutsman, Jun 4, 2007.

  1. cutsman macrumors regular

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    Jun 1, 2006
    #1
    I've noticed that there seems to be a range of focal lengths for macro lenses. My question is what makes a lens a "macro" lens if the focal lengths overlap with those of regular non-macro lenses?
     
  2. Buschmaster macrumors 65816

    Buschmaster

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    #2
    Most good 'macro' lenses have a 1:1 magnification rating.

    Otherwise a lot come close to that.
     
  3. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #3
    It doesn't really have anything to do with focal length. You'll find macros from 60mm up to 180mm. Macro functionality refers to how close it can focus -- ie, much closer than most lenses.
     
  4. Buschmaster macrumors 65816

    Buschmaster

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    #4
    Some Sigmas telephotos have 1:2 macro from 200-300, I believe, as well.
     
  5. cutsman thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 1, 2006
    #5
    So if focusing distance is the big difference... is there any disadvantage to using a macro lens for non-macro purposes?
     
  6. Buschmaster macrumors 65816

    Buschmaster

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    #6
    None. At least not in the decent macro lenses. I shoot Pentax and a lot of people say they keep either their 50mm or 100mm (same lens different focal lengths) macro lenses on quite often even just for portraits. However, some cheaper macro lenses may not be quite as good with focusing to infinity.
     
  7. devilot Moderator emeritus

    devilot

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    May 1, 2005
    #7
    OP, thanks for asking this... I've always wondered but was too chicken to ask. :eek:

    Nice. Is there a non-super-technical way to explain how the physical lens is different to allow for this?
     
  8. Since '76 macrumors member

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    May 3, 2007
    #8
    Ability to focus 1:1 (lifesize) images on the sensor or film
    A nice flat field (no pin cushion)
    Less vignetting (even illumination)

    All very useful in copy work as well as close-ups
     
  9. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

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    #9
    That is true for most macro lenses. One major exception being the MP-E 65mm, which is one of the top-notch lenses for macro photography, but will not focus much beyond 5 inches. The 100, 60, and 180 from Canon are awesome for both macro, and general use.
     
  10. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #10
    Nikon's current lineup: 60mm, 105mm VR and 200mm f/4 -- all excellent lenses with 1:1 ratio. Each can be used for other purposes as well. The 105mm VR in particular makes a nice portrait lens, too!
     
  11. IscariotJ macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 13, 2004
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    UK
    #11
    I've just picked up the 105mm VR, and found it's focal length to just right for other types of shots. Sorta like a prime for my D40. Was beginning to wonder if there was any reason not to use it as such....
     
  12. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #12
    I wonder what the lowest magnifaction lens that a manufacture calls a macro lens is? A lot of lenses don't come that close to 1:1 and are called macros by their manufacturers. Seems like anything better than 1:4.
     

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