Macro op­tics are highly spe­cialised tools. Un­der­stand the key fea­tures for in­formed buy­ing de­ci­sions

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

When work­ing in such a spe­cific genre, it is essen­tial that you choose the cor­rect tool that will en­able you to cap­ture the types of im­ages you de­sire. If you are new to macro pho­tog­ra­phy, you may choose to opt for a more gen­eral-pur­pose lens model, as th­ese will al­low you to get to know the field with­out mak­ing a large fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment. Ul­ti­mately how­ever, the best re­sults can only be re­li­ably cap­tured us­ing ded­i­cated equip­ment that has been specif­i­cally de­signed with pro macro shots in mind. Ded­i­cated macro lenses can re­pro­duce the sub­ject at life-size on the cam­era’s sen­sor. Th­ese fea­ture an op­ti­cal de­sign which per­mits very close fo­cus­ing, while yield­ing the best pos­si­ble sharp­ness and qual­ity at th­ese ex­treme dis­tances. The fo­cal length you choose will

“Ded­i­cated lenses can re­pro­duce the sub­ject at life-size on the sen­sor”

de­pend upon the sub­ject and en­vi­ron­ment you ex­pect to find your­self shoot­ing in.

The shorter lenses have fewer and smaller glass el­e­ments and so pro­vide weight and porta­bil­ity ben­e­fits, how­ever their use­ful­ness can be lim­ited un­der cer­tain con­di­tions.

When shoot­ing wildlife sub­jects such as in­sects or small mam­mals, the very close work­ing dis­tance of a 60mm macro lens can be pro­hib­i­tive, as th­ese an­i­mals are eas­ily dis­turbed and will likely run away as you bring the cam­era near. In most cases 100mm to 180mm will be the bet­ter choice, as th­ese mod­els al­low high mag­ni­fi­ca­tion when shoot­ing from fur­ther away. For less ex­pense, many zoom lenses fea­ture a ‘macro’ mode for close-up cap­tures. Th­ese don’t of­fer true macro pho­tog­ra­phy, al­though they can be use­ful for cap­tur­ing larger sub­jects in greater de­tail, es­pe­cially flower struc­tures. On some lenses this mode is ac­ti­vated by a switch on the lens bar­rel which locks the lens at the up­per end of the fo­cal length range. Another af­ford­able al­ter­na­tive is a macro ‘fil­ter’ or diop­tre, which at­taches to any lens’ fil­ter thread and in­creases the mag­ni­fi­ca­tion power. Avail­able in mul­ti­ple strengths, th­ese can be stacked for even higher mag­ni­fi­ca­tions, al­beit with some qual­ity loss.

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