macro photography lenses

Typically traditional macro photography lenses are generally between 50 and 200mm in focal length.

Almost all of them have a fixed focal length-they don't zoom.

Many zoom lenses have macro settings, but they often don't have a full 1:1 magnification capability.

The longer macro lenses have a lot more glass and are quite a bit more expensive.

With a longer working distance they are good for photographing certain insects that won't stay still if you get too close. 

The intermediate sizes are the most popular and usually the working distance is in the 6-12 inch distance range.

One of the Canon macro photography lenses

This Canon 100mm macro lens is a medium length lens.

The shorter lenses are good for general macro photography and require a close working distance to the subject. 

The really short macro lenses are for cameras with small sensors.  Depth of field improves but you have to work at very close distances.

macro photography with zoom lenses

A lens with a one to one magnification ration is a true macro optical instrument

A true MACRO lens can produce an image on the sensor where the subject is exactly the same size at it is in real life in front of the camera.  

If the object is taller than the actual physical dimensions of the sensor, part of your subject will be cropped out of the frame.

In the days of film photography, macro photography was very technically challenging.

Because many modern digital cameras have smaller than full-sized sensors, it's easier to get good results with macro photography.

macro photography lens alternative

One of the macro photography techniques available that avoids the expense of getting a true macro lens is using extension tubes.  The tubes contain no lens elements so there is no degradation of the image at all.

It's an oldie but goodie macro technique.   I've used my Canon 85mm f1.8 lens and these stack-able extension tubes as a handy macro lens alternative many times.

Prime lens combined with extension tubes make a good macro lens alternative

I used this 85mm lens with the largest extension tube to take this photo of the small croissant.  With a normal minimum focusing distance of just under 3 feet for this lens, I would not be able to get enough for a decent shot of the texture in my subject.

Macro photo of croissant

With the single 31mm extension tube, my minimum focusing distance goes all the way down to about 9 inches or about 1/3 of the distance.  Extension tubes are stack-able and can be stored with lens caps on both ends to keep them dust free.

Using all three at once would more than double my ability to come in closer and get a great magnification. 

Extension tubes are stackable and can be stored with lenscaps on both ends to keep them dust free

Here is a video with quite a few excellent macro photographs of insects that were taken without using a dedicated macro photography lens.  It does take a bit of patience, skill , and knowledge of lighting and composition, and perhaps a little trial and error but you can get great close-ups with extension tubes.

Related articles on macro:

I've purchased a good majority of my camera equipment from the following resources. Good luck with your macro photography!


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