Macro lenses are used for macro photography or close-up photography, as it is popularly called. Close up photography deals with extreme close ups of very small sized items or creatures. It is mostly used by wild life photographers who want to take pictures of small insects. Another wide use of macro photography is in product photography, used for publicity and brochures to show individual products in great details. Macro photography is also used in forensics and laboratory work. There may be a number of other uses, depending upon the creative approach taken by the photographer.
Macro lenses are used for close up photography with both the digital cameras (zoom 10X or higher) and DSLR cameras. If you are interested in taking macro pictures, you will need macro lenses, period. It is not possible to take credible close shots without using macro lenses. The picture quality of macro photographs from DSLR cameras is considered better than that of digital cameras.
Since the so called ‘macro lenses’ use a long barrel for close focus to give highly detailed pictures with microscopic details, the scientifically correct name of the lens should be micro lens, and some photographers actually call it that. But to prevent confusion and for following established conventions, it is called a macro lens. Most of the macro lenses are designed to provide a magnification of 1:1 (1:1 means life size images). However, macro lenses with a high magnification of 5:1 (5:1 means a magnification of five times, or 500% of life size) are also available, and used for photographing extremely minuscule objects, such as snowflakes.
Why Use Macro Lenses
As mentioned earlier, if you want to take a decent close up photograph of a small object, flower or insect, you have to use a macro lens. With the other lenses, the minimum focusing distance and/or picture angle starts increasing, with the result that you cannot get a minimum magnification of 1:1 for taking life size pictures.
Types/Categories of Macro Lenses
Depending upon the focal length of the lenses used, there are three broad categories of macro lenses used for close up photography -
- 50 to 60 mm, typically used for taking photographs of small objects and products.
- 90 to 105 mm, used in wildlife photography- mostly flowers and insects.
- 150-200 mm, again used in wildlife photography, with an added advantage of providing a higher working distance from the subject.
Best Macro Lenses
The choice of the specific lenses to be used will depend on various factors and the personal choice of the photographer will also matter. Almost all the leading companies in the field of camera manufacture provide a wide range of choices in macro lenses for digital cameras and DSLR cameras.
EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Digital SLR
EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens
MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5X Macro Lens
50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens for Sony Alpha Digital SLR Camera
100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens for Sony Alpha Digital SLR Camera