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Macro/close-up work query.


Active Member
Hi all.... I've been admiring the real up-close work displayed on this site (raindrops, insects, plants etc), it's something I'd love to be able to attempt if I knew how to do it properly.

Can someone explain in simple terms the different lens attributes and when/how they're used? I notice that lens' have a minimum focusing distance which I'm guessing is how far (at the very least) they need to be from the subject...from that distance I assume it's a case of zooming in to get the really close macro shots?

I'm starting to confuse myself now... I took the following shot at 55mm with my 18-55mm lens but although I tried I couldn't get a picture to appear any closer, either through reducing the zoom and/or through moving the camera nearer/further from the subject. At one point the camera simply wouldn't take a shot. Should I be using my 55-200mm from further away with more zoom?

Yours dazed and confused.


Well-known Member
The closest focus distance of the lens will always be constant (say 30cm). You set your camera up 30cm from subject and then zoom in to get the largest subject possible. Telephot's like you 55-200 usually have a larger closest focus difference but that is usually cancelled out by the fact you can zoom in more.

These lense Macro capability can be extended by buying a closeup filter but really the best way to get decent macro shots is to buy a dedicated macro lens. These are usually prime lenses and allow you to focus on things alot closer.

Some macro's on the forum posted by AllieC were taken using a Canon MPE-65 which whereas a normal macro will allow upto about 1x lifesize it will do upto 5x but but will not focus beyond something like 20cm, unlike a normal macro lens which will focus to infinity.


Active Member
also your focusing distance is from the sensor at the rear of the camera to the subject not from the front of the lens to the subject :)

you also just missed out on a good deal for Jessops extention tubes for £22.00 down from £76.00 those would have got you closer without needing a true macro lens.


I bought a cheap screw-on macro lens attachment. Lets just say this is one area that for me, getting an appropriate lens is desirable. Whilst my Sigma 70-300mm APO DG Macro is great, you have to be 'at a distance' to use it.

Julian, it'll depend if you want to 'get up close and personal' or not. There are variations of the same theme, but I would look for a 1:1 (life size) or 1:2 (half size) dedicted macro lens unless you can get the feature incorporated in a general lens (usually 1:2 (half), 1:4 (quarter)) life lize.

There are apparently 'decent' screw on lens attachments called LENSBABIES, though I have no idea if they are well regarded or not.

EDIT: Don't forget the kit lens has a macro function. Turn the control dial to the flower symbol. Give it a whirl!


Active Member
Thanks guys... think I'll have a play with zooming in and make a note of the type of lens used in particular photos that I'm trying to replicate.

I'll keep you posted!


Well-known Member
To be honest, to do the job properly you could really do with a dedicated macro lens.

A very high percentage of macro shots are produced with a handful of almost equally excellent lenses with very similar characteristics - the Tamron 90mm f2.8, Sigma 105mm, Canon 100mm f2.8, Tokina 100mm f2.8 and Nikon 105mm f2.8.

Insect specialists often go longer (200mm) or use more magnification - as in the x5 lens AllieC is using. Static subjects can be shot with shorter lenses (50-60mm), but the middle of the road 90-105mm covers most bases reasonably well. As has already been explained, these macro lenses are fixed focal length (ie 'prime') lenses of very high optical quality, that allow focussing far closer than normal primes and zooms, though they also focus out to inifinity.

Something like the Tamron 90mm f2.8 is about £240, but if you're dying to reproduce the macro shots you see on here, this would be worth every penny :thumbsup:

Here's the world as viewed through a Nikon 105mm macro. I've posted a few so you can see the perspective it gives, and how cool these lenses are for all sorts of photography, ranging from macro, through portrait to landscape...








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