Sunday, May 13, 2012
Macro photography, like Telephoto work, can be one of those specialized methods that generally don't get engaged in too frequently, but on the other hand, who doesn't enjoy taking a close-up of nice flowers once in awhile? Again, doing Macro (close-up) photography requires a bit of a "stretch" from the normal optics of a lens, which is why most compact cameras, even the least expensive ones, have a special "macro" setting, usually a little tulip icon that can be selected with a button, or from the cameras' menu. This special setting consists of two things - 1) the ability to focus very close to the object, and 2) a higher magnification factor (think magnifying glass). Invariably, with your camera set for Macro, the lens will no longer focus to infinity, so you can't just go from photographing close-ups of flowers to doing landscapes without flicking the switch.
For interchangeable lens cameras, it becomes a question of how much macro photography you plan on doing that dictates the best lens for the job. For serious work, if you specialize in taking pictures of floral arrangements, insects or miniatures, there are special Macro lenses that usually cost more than your camera itself, and do not focus to infinity at all, but naturally, will make absolutely spectacular close-up images, with very high magnification factors. Otherwise, if you are less of a specialist, many interchangeable zoom lenses do a nice job of moderate close-ups, and still able to focus to infinity for general photography, without switching anything. The sacrifice is in the magnification factor, when compared to the specialized Macro Focus Lens.
The photo I took above came from another of my inexpensive acquisitions. Today I bought a Canon EF 70-210mm Telephoto Zoom from the pre-digital era, but being a Canon EF, it mounts right on my DSLR with full electronic focusing and auto-exposure capability. What's more, it is a Telephoto with a dedicated Macro switch which provides some extra magnification when needed. To buy a modern lens with these capabilities would cost over ten times what I paid for this one - what a find! It has amazing optics, and stays at f4 through the whole zoom range (very expensive to get this these days). You can see from my sample how well it renders colour and makes a beautiful blurred background set at it's biggest opening of f4.
I love doing photography on a tight equipment budget! It may not allow me to go to the ultimate degree of whatever I'm trying to do, but for very little cash, I always get 99% of the way there I usually find.