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Micro, Macro & Close-up Photography

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Macro photography is photography where the image on the sensor approaches or equals the size of the subject, in other words, where the ratio of subject size to image size approaches or equals 1:1.

Nikon's lenses for macro photography are designated micro.

Close-up photography generally refers to photographs where the final image print is life-size or greater, with a typical magnification of 1:4 or greater.

Macro photography can be achieved in a number of ways.

  • Using a macro lens, such as a Nikon micro
  • Using a tele-photo or zoom lens which has a macro range
  • Using extension tubes or bellows to move the lens further from the focal plane
  • Using a Teleconverter
  • Using a lens reversal adapter, to fit a lens to the camera backwards
  • Using a close-up filter (actually an additional lens which attaches to the front of the lens using the filter thread). This is the only option for compact cameras or any camera without interchangeable lenses.

A macro lens can be combined with bellows for increased magnification and control. A bellows with movements enables the photographer to better control Depth of Field (DOF). Even where bellows are not used, a rack-focus system is generally beneficial in macro photography.

In macro photography, Depth of Field (DOF) is significantly reduced as compared to ordinary photography. Furthermore, the amount of light reaching the sensor is reduced. Some lens camera combinations can automatically account for this. Further, camera auto focus is primarily designed for ordinary working distances, and can prove unreliable at macro distances, for which reason macro photography is typically conducted using manual focus, often with the camera being moved backwards and forwards rather than the focus mechanism actually being operated.

Achieving even lighting is frequently an issue in macro photography, particular with normal length lenses, such as 60mm, where the end of the lens may be almost touching the subject. A ringflash may be used to provide even lighting around the lens, or a longer lens, such as 100mm, which moves the lens further back, although it will not generally increase the maximum magnification.

Flash is advantageous in macro photography, because the normal rule of thumb for shutter speed and focal length does not apply at macro distances, and the slightest motion in the camera or in the subject introduces blur. Where possible, the camera should, in any case, be mounted on a tripod.

  • This page was last modified on 13 February 2021, at 07:59.
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