Using Macro Lenses

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Macro lenses open up a world of photographic possibilities by offering an extreme level of magnification. In addition, the reduced focusing distance allows beautiful, moderate close-ups as well as extreme close-ups of plants, flowers, insects, water droplets, and other small, intimate subjects. You can further reduce the focusing distance by using extension tubes (detailed later in this chapter) and/or screw-on close-up lenses. The closer you look, the more there is to see.

Both normal and telephoto lenses offer macro capability. Because these lenses can be used both at their normal focal length as well as for macro photography, they serve double duty. Macro lenses offer one-half to life-size magnification.

6.9 As many photographers know, a lightweight macro lens is great during hikes for shooting close-ups of wildlife. This image of a scorpion and her babies feeding on her back was captured in Arizona by using an EF 100mm f/2.8L USM lens and an 580EX II Speedlite mounted on a homemade bracket. ISO 100, f/16, 1/100 sec.

6.9 As many photographers know, a lightweight macro lens is great during hikes for shooting close-ups of wildlife. This image of a scorpion and her babies feeding on her back was captured in Arizona by using an EF 100mm f/2.8L USM lens and an 580EX II Speedlite mounted on a homemade bracket. ISO 100, f/16, 1/100 sec.

When you shoot with a macro lens, keep these characteristics in mind:

► Extremely shallow depth of field. At 1:1 magnification, the depth of field is less than 1mm at maximum aperture. The shallow depth of field makes focusing critical; even the slightest change to the focusing ring can throw the picture out of focus.

► High magnification. With extremely high magnification, any movement causes blur. To avoid this, always use a tripod and a cable release or a remote to release the shutter. If you must shoot handheld, use a flash.

► Variety of working distances. The working distance factors into your choice of macro lenses. For example, the 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM lens allows a longer working distance (measured from the tip of the lens to the subject) of 1.6 feet versus the 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro lens with a working distance of 0.8 feet.

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