macro photography

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macro photography
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missing image!
- Scatophaga stercoraria macro Luc Viatour.jpg -
upright=1.2|Photomacrograph of a common yellow dung fly (Scathophaga stercoraria) made using a lens at its maximum 1:1 reproduction ratio, and an 18×24mm image sensor, the on-screen display of the photograph results in a greater than life-size image.
(File:Dragon Fly portrait using reverse ring macro.png|thumb|Headshot of a dragonfly taken with a 100mm macro lens coupled with a 50mm lens in reverse at the end.)Macro photography (or photomacrographyBOOK
, Digital Macro and Close-Up Photography For Dummies
, Thomas Clark
, John Wiley & Sons
, 2011
, 9781118089200
, 29
, Freeman
, Michael
, 2010
, Mastering Digital Photography
, UK
, ILEX Press
, 336
, 978-1-907579-00-4
, Michael Freeman (photographer)
, or macrography,BOOK
, The Science of Imaging: An Introduction
, 2nd
, Graham Saxby
, CRC Press
, 2010
, 9781439812860
, 269
, and sometimes macrophotographyBOOK, Webster, Merriam, Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Ed, 1996, Merriam-Webster, Inc, 0-87779-711-0, 698
, ), is extreme close-up photography, usually of very small subjects and living organisms like insects, in which the size of the subject in the photograph is greater than life size (though macrophotography technically refers to the art of making very large photographs).BOOK
, The DSLR Field Guide: The Essential Handbook to Getting the Most from Your Camera
, Michael Freeman
, Focal Press
, 2010
, 9780240817200
, 30
By the original definition, a macro photograph is one in which the size of the subject on the negative or image sensor is life size or greater.WEB, Marom, Erez, Macro photography: Understanding magnification,weblink 20 May 2012, However, in some uses it refers to a finished photograph of a subject at greater than life size.WEB,, Macro Photography,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 2008-11-06, 20 May 2012, The ratio of the subject size on the film plane (or sensor plane) to the actual subject size is known as the reproduction ratio. Likewise, a macro lens is classically a lens capable of reproduction ratios of at least 1:1, although it often refers to any lens with a large reproduction ratio, despite rarely exceeding 1:1.WEB, Rockwell, Ken, Canon 50mm Macro,weblink 20 May 2012, WEB, Cambridge in Colour, Macro Camera Lenses,weblink WEB, Long, Ben, How to take great macro photographs,weblink 20 May 2012, Apart from technical photography and film-based processes, where the size of the image on the negative or image sensor is the subject of discussion, the finished print or on-screen image more commonly lends a photograph its macro status. For example, when producing a 6×4 inch (15×10 cm) print using 35 format (36×24 mm) film or sensor, a life-size result is possible with a lens having only a 1:4 reproduction ratio.WEB, Olympus, Macrophotography and your Evolt,weblink 20 May 2012, WEB, Super Tight Stuff, Incredible Macro Insect Photos,weblink 20 May 2012, Reproduction ratios much greater than 10:1 are considered to be photomicrography, often achieved with digital microscope (photomicrography should not be confused with microphotography, the art of making very small photographs, such as for microforms).Due to advances in sensor technology, today’s small-sensor digital cameras can rival the macro capabilities of a DSLR with a “true” macro lens, despite having a lower reproduction ratio, making macro photography more widely accessible at a lower cost.WEB, Frank, Bob, Extreme macro photography,weblink 20 May 2012, In the digital age, a "true" macro photograph can be more practically defined as a photograph with a vertical subject height of 24 mm or less.WEB, Wattie, John, Digital Stereo Macro Photography,weblink 20 May 2012,


The term photo-macrograph was proposed in 1899 by W. H. Walmsley for close-up images with less than 10 diameters magnification, to distinguish from true photo-micrographs.JOURNAL, Walmsley, W. H., Photo-micrography for everybody, The International Annual of Anthony's Photographic Bulletin and American Process Year-book, 1899, 12, 73–90,weblink One of the earliest pioneers of macro photography was Percy Smith, born in 1880. He was a British nature documentary filmmaker, and was known for his close-up photographs.WEB,weblink The Story of Macro Photography,

Equipment and techniques

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- Canon MP-E65mm.jpg -
Canon MP-E 65 mm macro lens. Small front lens elements are typical of macro lenses.
missing image!
- ExtensionTube5733.jpg -
Extension tubes for extreme macro use with SLRs. Note the pen placed through the tube to illustrate that it does not contain any lens elements.
missing image!
- Automatik-Balgengeraet mit Kamera, Objektiv und Umkehrring.jpg -
Bellows fitted between an SLR and reversed lens
(File:Close-Up lens Canon 500D 58 mm.jpg|thumb|Typical close-up lens)(File:MacroPlusRetrolens.jpg|thumb|Wide-angle lens used as a reversed lens in front of a macro lens)"Macro" lenses specifically designed for close-up work, with a long barrel for close focusing and optimized for high reproduction ratios, are one of the most common tools for macro photography. (Unlike most other lens makers, Nikon designates its macro lenses as "Micro" because of their original use in making microform.) Most modern macro lenses can focus continuously to infinity as well and can provide excellent optical quality for normal photography. True macro lenses, such as the Canon MP-E 65 mm f/2.8 or Minolta AF 3x-1x 1.7-2.8 Macro, can achieve higher magnification than life size, enabling photography of the structure of small insect eyes, snowflakes, and other minuscule objects. Others, such as the Infinity Photo-Optical's TS-160 can achieve magnifications from 0-18x on sensor, focusing from infinity down to 18 mm from the object.Macro lenses of different focal lengths find different uses:
  • Continuously-variable focal length{{spaced ndash}}suitable for virtually all macro subjects
  • 45–65 mm{{spaced ndash}}product photography, small objects that can be approached closely without causing undesirable influence, and scenes requiring natural background perspective
  • 90–105 mm{{spaced ndash}}insects, flowers, and small objects from a comfortable distance
  • 150–200 mm{{spaced ndash}}insects and other small animals where additional working distance is required
Extending the distance between the lens and the film or sensor, by inserting either extension tubes or a continuously adjustable bellows, is another equipment option for macro photography. The further the lens is from the film or sensor, the closer the focusing distance, the greater the magnification, and the darker the image given the same aperture. Tubes of various lengths can be stacked, decreasing lens-to-subject distance and increasing magnification. Bellows or tubes shorten the available maximum focus distance and make it impossible to focus to infinity.Placing an auxiliary close-up lens (or close-up "filter") in front of the camera's lens is another option. Inexpensive screw-in or slip-on attachments provide close focusing. The possible quality is less than that of a dedicated macro lens or extension tubes, with some two-element versions being very good while many inexpensive single element lenses exhibit chromatic aberration and reduced sharpness of the resulting image. This method works with cameras that have fixed lenses, and is commonly used with bridge cameras. These lenses add diopters to the optical power of the lens, decreasing the minimum focusing distance, and allowing the camera to get closer to the subject. They are typically designated by their diopter, and can be stacked (with an additional loss of quality) to achieve the desired magnification.Photographers may employ view camera movements and the Scheimpflug principle to place an object close to the lens in focus, while maintaining selective background focus. This technique requires the use of a view camera or perspective control lens with the ability to tilt the lens with respect to the film or sensor plane. Lenses such as the Nikon PC-E and Canon TS-E series, the Hartblei Super-Rotator, the Schneider Super Angulon, several Lensbaby models, the Zoerk Multi Focus System, and various tilt-shift adapters for medium format, allow the use of tilt in cameras with fixed lens mounts. Traditional view cameras permit such adjustment as part of their design.Ordinary lenses can be used for macro photography by using a "reversing ring." This ring attaches to the filter thread on the front of a lens and makes it possible to attach the lens in reverse. Excellent quality results up to 4x life-size magnification are possible. For cameras with all-electronic communications between the lens and the camera body specialty reversing rings are available which preserve these communications. When used with extension tubes or bellows, a highly versatile, true macro (greater than life size) system can be assembled. Since non-macro lenses are optimized for small reproduction ratios, reversing the lens allows it to be used for reciprocally high ratios.Macro photography may also be accomplished by mounting a lens in reverse, in front of a normally mounted lens of greater focal length, using a macro coupler which screws into the front filter threads of both lenses. This method allows most cameras to maintain the full function of electronic and mechanical communication with the normally mounted lens, for features such as open-aperture metering. The magnification ratio is calculated by dividing the focal length of the normally mounted lens by the focal length of the reversed lens (e.g., when an 18 mm lens is reverse mounted on a 300 mm lens the reproduction ratio is 16:1). The use of automatic focus is not advisable if the first lens is not of the internal-focusing type, as the extra weight of the reverse-mounted lens could damage the autofocus mechanism. Working distance is significantly less than the first lens.Increasingly, macro photography is accomplished using compact digital cameras and small-sensor bridge cameras, combined with a high powered zoom lens and (optionally) a close-up diopter lens added to the front of the camera lens. The deep depth of field of these cameras is an advantage for macro work.WEB, Frank, Bob, Equipment used to create Panasonic FZ30 macro galleries,weblink 23 May 2012, The high pixel density and resolving power of these cameras' sensors enable them to capture very high levels of detail at a lower reproduction ratio than is needed for film or larger DSLR sensors (often at the cost of greater image noise). Despite the fact that many of these cameras come with a "macro mode" which does not qualify as true macro, some photographers are using the advantages of small sensor cameras to create macro images that rival or even surpass those from DSLRs.

Macro photography techniques

Image:Close-up.png|Optical scheme of close-up macro photographyImage:RevLensMac.png|Reversed-lens macro photography optical schemeImage:RevLensTeleMacro.png|Optical scheme of macro photography using reversed lens and telephoto lensImage:ExTubeMacro.png|Optical scheme of macro photography using extension tube

Macro photography lenses

(File:Nikon DX AF-S Micro Nikkor 40mm f2,8G.jpg|thumbnail|upright|Nikon AF-S DX Micro 40 mm f/2.8G)(File:Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f 2.8 Macro Lens.jpg|thumb|Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro Lens){| class="wikitable sortable"! Lens !! focal length !! Reproduction Ratio !! Closest Focus (inches)
Canon EF-M 28mm Macro lens>Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM 28mm 1:1 (life size), 1.2:1 {{cvtmm 93in}}
Canon EF 35mm lens>Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM 35mm 1:1 (life size) {{cvtmm|in}}
Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro lens>Canon EF 50mm Compact f/2.5 50mm 1:2 (half life size) {{cvtin|m}}
Canon TS-E 50mm lens>Canon TS-E 50 mm f/2.8L MACRO 50mm 1:2 (half life size) {{cvtm|in}}
Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens>Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM 60mm 1:1 (life size) {{cvtin|m}}
Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1–5x Macro lens>Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x 65mm 5:1 (life size) {{cvtin|m}}
Canon TS-E 90mm lens>Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8L MACRO 90mm 1:2 (half life size) {{cvtm|in}}
Canon EF 100mm lens>Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM 100mm 1:1 (life size) {{cvtin|m}}
Canon EF 100mm lens>Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM 100mm 1:1 (life size) {{cvtin|m}}
Canon TS-E 135mm lens>Canon TS-E 135 mm f/4L MACRO 135mm 1:2 (half life size) {{cvtm|in}}
Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM lens>Canon EF 180 f/3.5L USM 180mm 1:1 (life size) {{cvtin|m}}
WEBSITE=WWW.FUJIFILM.COM, 60mm 1:2 (half life size) {{cvtin|m}}
FUJINON LENS XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro, Fujifilm > 9.8 m}}
6.4 m}}
7 m}}
10.8 m}}
8.75 m}}
6 m}}
9 m}}
16.08 m}}
Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED>Nikon AF-S VR Nikkor f/2.8G IF-ED 105mm 1:1 (life size) {{cvtin|m}}
20 m}}
9.9 m}}
15 m}}
15.7 m}}
9.6 m}}
9.1 m}}
9.5 m}}
7.5 m}}
Panasonic Lumix 45mm lens>Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit f/F2.8 ASPH Mega OIS 45mm 1:1 (35mm eqv. 2x life size) {{cvtin|m}}
5.4 m}}
Pentax D FA 50mm lens>Pentax D-FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro 50mm 1:1 (life size) {{cvtin|m}}
Pentax D-FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro WR > 9.9 m}}
PUBLISHER=SCHNEIDER KREUZNACHACCESSDATE=NOVEMBER 9, 2014, 90mm 1:4 (quarter life size) {{cvtin|m}}
4.8 m}}
Sony E 30mm F3.5 Macro LensHTTPS://WWW.SONY.CO.UK/ELECTRONICS/CAMERA-LENSES/SEL30M35/SPECIFICATIONSWEBSITE=SONY, 30mm 1:1 (life size) {{cvt m|in}}
7.8 m}}
14.4 m}}
PUBLISHER=CARL ZEISS AG DEADURL=YES ARCHIVEDATE=NOVEMBER 22, 2014, 50mm 1:2 (half life size) {{cvtin|m}}
PUBLISHER=CARL ZEISS AG DEADURL=YES ARCHIVEDATE=OCTOBER 22, 2014, 100mm 1:2 (half life size) {{cvtin|m}}
WEB,weblink Canon U.S.A. : Consumer & Home Office : EF Lens Lineup, WEB,weblink Macro Lenses - Macro Lens Guide from Nikon from Nikon,, WEB,weblink" title="">weblink Camera Lens - Official PENTAX Imaging Web Site, 5 December 2010,, WEB,weblink Consumer Electronics - Sony US,,

35 mm equivalent magnification

missing image!
- 35mm Equivalent Reproduction Ratio.jpg -
35 mm equivalent magnification: The photograph on top was taken with a full-frame (35 mm) sensor digital SLR camera and a 100 mm macro lens at 1:1 magnification. The photograph on the bottom was taken with a Micro Four Thirds (2x crop) sensor camera and a 50 mm macro lens at 1:2 magnification. The subject height in both images is 24 mm. Photographs taken with these two set-ups will be practically indistinguishable at the same print size, lending the photograph on the bottom its 1:1 35 mm equivalent reproduction ratio status.
35 mm equivalent magnification, or 35 mm equivalent reproduction ratio, is a measure that indicates the apparent magnification achieved with a small sensor format, or "crop sensor" digital camera compared to a 35 mm-based image enlarged to the same print size.WEB, Olympus Imaging Corp., Olympus Four Thirds Lenses - Macro,weblink, Olympus Imaging Corp., 9 June 2012, WEB, Olympus Imaging Corp., Panasonic LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45 mm F2.8,weblink, Olympus Imaging Corp., 9 June 2012, The term is useful because many photographers are familiar with the 35 mm film format.WEB, Digital Photography Review, Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45 mm F2.8 ASPH OIS Review,weblink, Digital Photography Review, 11 June 2012, WEB, Outdoor Photographer Staff, Choosing Your Macro,weblink Outdoor Photographer, 11 June 2012, WEB, Pitts, Wes, Intro To Macro,weblink Digital Photo Magazine, 11 June 2012, WEB, Arva-Toth, Zoltan, Zuiko Digital ED 50 mm f2 Macro Review,weblink PhotographyBLOG, Photo 360 Limited, 11 June 2012, WEB, Wetpixel: Underwater Photography Forums, Help with reproduction ratio,weblink, 11 June 2012, While a "true" macro lens is defined as a lens having a reproduction ratio of 1:1 on the film or sensor plane, with small sensor format digital cameras an actual reproduction ratio of 1:1 is rarely achieved or needed to take macro photographs. What macro photographers often care about more is simply knowing the size of the smallest object that can fill the frame. For example, the 12 megapixel Micro Four Thirds Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 camera with a 2x crop sensor only requires a 1:2 reproduction ratio to take a picture with the same subject size, resolution, and apparent magnification as a 12 megapixel "full-frame" Nikon D700 camera, when the images are viewed on screen or printed at the same size. Thus a Four Thirds system macro lens like the Olympus Zuiko Digital 35 mm F3.5 Macro lens with a true maximum image magnification of 1.0x is rated as having a "2.0x 35 mm equivalent magnification".WEB, Olympus Imaging Corp., OLYMPUS : ZUIKO DIGITAL 35 mm F3.5 Macro,weblink, Olympus Imaging Corp., 9 June 2012, To calculate 35 mm equivalent reproduction ratio, simply multiply the actual maximum magnification of the lens by the 35 mm conversion factor, or "crop factor" of the camera. If the actual magnification and/or crop factor are unknown (such as is the case with many compact or point-and-shoot digital cameras), simply take a photograph of a mm ruler placed vertically in the frame focused at the maximum magnification distance of the lens and measure the height of the frame. Since the object height of a 1.0x magnified 35 mm film image is 24 mm, calculate 35 mm equivalent reproduction ratio and true reproduction ratio by using the following:WEB, Wattie, John, Digital Stereo Macro Photography,weblink, 9 June 2012,
(35 mm equivalent reproduction ratio) = 24 / (measured height in mm)
(True reproduction ratio) = (35mm equivalent reproduction ratio) / Crop factor.
Since digital compact camera sensor sizes come in a wide diversity of sizes and camera manufacturers rarely publish the macro reproduction ratios for these cameras, a good rule of thumb is that whenever a 24 mm vertical object just fits, or is too tall to fit in the camera viewfinder, you are taking a macro photograph.
missing image!
- Full-Frame and Micro Four Thirds Macro Equivalent Images - Columbine Flower.jpg -
center|upright=2.0|35 mm equivalent reproduction ratio: the photograph on the left was taken with a Micro Four Thirds (2x crop) sensor camera and a 50 mm macro lens at 1:2 magnification. The photograph on the right was taken with a full-frame (35 mm) sensor digital SLR camera and a 100 mm macro lens at 1:1 magnification. The photographs are practically indistinguishable and therefore equivalent. As the images were taken at slightly different angles, the two images can be viewed as a cross-eyed stereogram.

Technical considerations

Depth of field

File:Housefly on a leaf crop.jpg|thumb|Shallow depth of fielddepth of fieldLimited depth of field is an important consideration in macro photography. Depth of field is extremely small when focusing on close objects. A small aperture (high f-number) is often required to produce acceptable sharpness across a three-dimensional subject. This requires either a slow shutter speed, brilliant lighting, or a high ISO. Auxiliary lighting (such as from a flash unit), preferably a ring flash is often used (see Lighting section).Like conventional lenses, macro lenses need light, and ideally would provide similar {{f/}}# to conventional lenses to provide similar exposure times. Macro lenses also have similar focal lengths, so the entrance pupil diameter is comparable to that of conventional lenses (e.g., a 100 mm {{f/}}2.8 lens has a 100 mm/2.8 = 35.7 mm entrance-pupil diameter). Because they focus at close subjects, the cone of light from a subject point to the entrance pupil is relatively obtuse (a relatively high subject numerical aperture to use microscopy terms), making the depth of field extraordinarily small. This makes it essential to focus critically on the most important part of the subject, as elements that are even a millimetre closer or farther from the focal plane might be noticeably blurred. Due to this, the use of a microscope stage is highly recommended for precise focus with large magnification such as photographing skin cells. Alternatively, more shots of the same subject can be made with slightly different focusing lengths and joined afterwards with specialized focus stacking software which picks out the sharpest parts of every image, artificially increasing depth of field.


The problem of sufficiently and evenly lighting the subject can be difficult to overcome. Some cameras can focus on subjects so close that they touch the front of the lens. It is difficult to place a light between the camera and a subject that close, making extreme close-up photography impractical. A normal-focal-length macro lens (50 mm on a 35 mm camera) can focus so close that lighting remains difficult. To avoid this problem, many photographers use telephoto macro lenses, typically with focal lengths from about 100 to 200 mm. These are popular as they permit sufficient distance for lighting between the camera and the subject.Ring flashes, with flash tubes arranged in a circle around the front of the lens, can be helpful in lighting at close distances.WEB, Basco, Greg, No, I'm not a Dentist: The Joy of Ring Flash Photography,weblink, 21 June 2012, Ring lights have emerged, using white LEDs to provide a continuous light source for macro photography, however they are not as bright as a ring flash and the white balance is very cool.WEB,, Introduction To LED Lighting,weblink, 21 June 2012, Good results can also be obtained by using a flash diffuser. Homemade flash diffusers made out of white Styrofoam or plastic attached to a camera's built-in flash can also yield surprisingly good results by diffusing and softening the light, eliminating specular reflections and providing more even lighting.

See also



External links

{{Commons category|Macro photography}} {{Photography}}

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