Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length





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  1. #1
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    Default Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Morning Folks.

    I have very happily used a Canon G7 for a number of years for my static jewellery pack shots. Set to macro, correct ISO, mount on tripod, item into light box and away I go. Crop the image, resize and load online. Pretty straightforward process

    Sadly it looks like the trusted beast is now to be retired, so am doing my research on what to replace it with.

    Short of buying a new G model, I am leaning towards getting a body with either macro OR fixed focal length lens.

    I have not had a chat with any of the sales staff at Orms, Cameraland etc etc yet, but have spent a fair bit of time doing Google based research and am getting a bit confused between which of these two options would be best suited to my application and why.

    What say you guys?

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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    The terms "macro" and "fixed focal length" are not related at all, nor are they mutually exclusive.

    "fixed focal length" means just that, and has no bearing on either the minimum focus distance nor the "reproduction ratio".

    The "reproduction ratio" is what is of interest to you. It is a function of the minimum focus distance and the focal length, and describes how big an item can be projected onto the camera's sensor.

    A "macro" lens is one which is capable of generating a reproduction ratio of 1:1. This means that if you were to take a photo of an object at minimum focus distance, this object would be captured on the sensor at true life size. Keeping in mind that nobody looks at photos that are the size of the camera's sensor, this means that you have the ability to significantly enlarge the object in a normal-sized photo.

    Most true macro lenses are fixed focal length, but not all, and very few fixed focal length lenses can get anywhere near macro reproduction ratios. Macro is also a term very often abused, and few of the fixed-length cameras can achieve 1:1 reproduction ratios.

    However, I must also point out that 99% of macro lenses are also excellent at longer distances, and thus they don't only make sense at closest focus distances.

    A good macro lens will allow you to do what you want to do without limiting you if you need to take photos of larger pieces. However, I suspect you should probably be looking at a focal length in the region of 50-60mm for what you are doing. However, I suspect the one lens you DON"T want to look at at this time is the Canon MPE-65. That has a reproduction ratio of 5:1, but is not as useful for lower reproduction rates.
    Last edited by Peter Connan; 2020/06/30 at 11:18 AM.
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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Peter gives a great explanation. I, not long ago, purchased the Canon 100mm f2.8 L IS macro lens second hand from Orms at a really good price. They had three copies I could choose from at that time. Together with any Canon body, that combination would give you a fixed focal length macro lens, with decent lens to subject distance, that with adequate lighting set up would give outstanding quality results. (even better than any 'G' body). This particular lens has a huge justified rep for image quality.
    You would also be getting a lens that is great for portraiture etc.

    PS: in the second hand market you may also find copies of the original 100/2.8 canon macro. Again, excellent image quality and now can be had at very low prices. You do not need the IS if you are using a tripod, only really becomes relevant for hand held macro.

    D
    Last edited by IanK; 2020/06/30 at 11:29 AM.

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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Quote Originally Posted by IanK View Post
    Peter gives a great explanation. I, not long ago, purchased the Canon 100mm f2.8 L IS macro lens second hand from Orms at a really good price. They had three copies I could choose from at that time. Together with any Canon body, that combination would give you a fixed focal length macro lens, with decent lens to subject distance, that with adequate lighting set up would give outstanding quality results. (even better than any 'G' body). This particular lens has a huge justified rep for image quality.
    You would also be getting a lens that is great for portraiture etc.

    PS: in the second hand market you may also find copies of the original 100/2.8 canon macro. Again, excellent image quality and now can be had at very low prices. You do not need the IS if you are using a tripod, only really becomes relevant for hand held macro.

    D
    Thanks Ian, what body are you using with this lens?

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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    I have used various bodies over years with the macro lens. Initially had the non -IS version, it got full of fungus eventually (badly care for by me in East London), now have the second hand IS version since I needed to get one again.
    Bodies: Don't chuckle. From 350D , 50D, 5D2, Id4, 5D4, and Idx2. Yip, I have had a few camera bodies in the last twenty years
    Important though: it will work perfectly with any canon DSLR With a crop sensor you will have much more lens to subject distance to play with as giving same virtual magnification at the sensor as an effective 160mm lens.
    D

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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Quote Originally Posted by IanK View Post
    I have used various bodies over years with the macro lens. Initially had the non -IS version, it got full of fungus eventually (badly care for by me in East London), now have the second hand IS version since I needed to get one again.
    Bodies: Don't chuckle. From 350D , 50D, 5D2, Id4, 5D4, and Idx2. Yip, I have had a few camera bodies in the last twenty years
    Important though: it will work perfectly with any canon DSLR With a crop sensor you will have much more lens to subject distance to play with as giving same virtual magnification at the sensor as an effective 160mm lens.
    D
    YIKES - higher grade stuff here IanK, thank you. It might be a while before I lay out the cash, but the research is proving very interesting and i appreciate your input.

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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Peter and Ian are on the money.

    But I would like to suggest shorter focal length and a wider angle lens. Shooting in a light box you only have so much space to get away with and get more in focus. Unless your setup is away from the light box then it should not matter.
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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Quote Originally Posted by Gifmonster View Post
    Peter and Ian are on the money.

    But I would like to suggest shorter focal length and a wider angle lens. Shooting in a light box you only have so much space to get away with and get more in focus. Unless your setup is away from the light box then it should not matter.
    Thanks Gifmonster. I am shooting jewellery so the items are rather small and i end up cropping a fair bit of the "white space" around the subject away.

    Would this still support your suggestion?

    What lens specs would you recommend?

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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    DSLR is not necessarily better for your purposes. You might be very disappointed.
    DOF is much much more on the smaller sensors.
    Due to sensor size and camera functions and set up, images in small size appear better quality SOOC. less/no editing

    If the G1 did exactly what you wanted, replace.

    If your dinges is itching for a DSLR - arrange with Orms to do an exact set up in shop, shoot, download and check - several photos.
    Last edited by EHoffmann; 2020/07/10 at 07:17 AM.
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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Quote Originally Posted by EHoffmann View Post
    DSLR is not necessarily better for your purposes. You might be very disappointed.
    DOF is much much more on the smaller sensors.
    Due to sensor size and camera functions and set up, images in small size appear better quality SOOC. less/no editing

    If the G1 did exactly what you wanted, replace.

    If your dinges is itching for a DSLR - arrange with Orms to do an exact set up in shop, shoot, download and check - several photos.
    This is great feedback, thank you. I am a "muk en druk" photographer, so appreciate this input. Obviusly we have teh set up correct on the G7, which works for my use. But the DSLR option does open a few more doors and is something I am keen to learn.

    I am going to have to google your terms DOF & SOOC to understand what you are referring too, unless you would like to elaborate here of course....

    Secondly, your suggestion of doing a set up at Orms is BRILLIANT. In fact i need to get to them for a chat in any event, so will definitely explore this with them.

    Thank you.
    Last edited by PaulWW; 2020/07/10 at 07:33 AM.

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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulWW View Post
    This is great feedback, thank you. I am a "muk en druk" photographer, so appreciate this input. Obviusly we have teh set up correct on the G7, which works for my use. But the DSLR option does open a few more doors and is something I am keen to learn.

    I am going to have to google your terms DOF & SOOC to understand what you are referring too, unless you would like to elaborate here of course....

    Secondly, your suggestion of doing a set up at Orms is BRILLIANT. In fact i need to get to them for a chat in any event, so will definitely explore this with them.

    Thank you.
    DOF - Depth of field
    SOOC - Straight out of camera (without any editing)
    BIF - bird in flight
    BOG - bird on ground
    BOW - bird on wire
    BOS - bird on stick
    Jersey - sheep
    Steers - cow

    The DSLR will open a LOT of doors, and you can do so much more. But your jewellery photography will not be the same.
    Ezzac

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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Quote Originally Posted by EHoffmann View Post
    DOF - Depth of field
    SOOC - Straight out of camera (without any editing)
    BIF - bird in flight
    BOG - bird on ground
    BOW - bird on wire
    BOS - bird on stick
    Jersey - sheep
    Steers - cow

    The DSLR will open a LOT of doors, and you can do so much more. But your jewellery photography will not be the same.
    LOL!!

    Thanks you Peter.

    I would think that with the correct DSLR set up the jewellery images would be as good if not better.

    The primary fo

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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulWW View Post
    LOL!!

    ............correct DSLR set up the jewellery .........
    coupled with editing it will be superior. Your effort needed will increase substantially too I recon.
    Once again - were you happy with what you got previously?
    My 2cents

    And for the rest of your photography interest - get a DSRL
    Ezzac

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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Quote Originally Posted by EHoffmann View Post
    coupled with editing it will be superior. Your effort needed will increase substantially too I recon.
    Once again - were you happy with what you got previously?
    My 2cents

    And for the rest of your photography interest - get a DSRL
    My editing is really basic, crop, resize, save for web. DONE. I do not do any adjustments/tweaks to the actual subject. Our business is B2B so our images are not styled like you see in the advertising brochures and glossy magazines.

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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulWW View Post
    My editing is really basic, crop, resize, save for web. DONE. I do not do any adjustments/tweaks to the actual subject. Our business is B2B so our images are not styled like you see in the advertising brochures and glossy magazines.
    Exactly. And you will most likely have more editing to do with a DSLR. For those pix you do not need a DSLR.
    For other stuff - oh ye.
    Ezzac

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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    I frequently take photos of model aircraft, and have in the past taken quite a lot of pictures of cake decorations.

    The problem with doing so with DSLR macro equipment is that it really magnifies every little imperfection in the work you are photographing.
    A model or cake that looks fabulous to the naked ehe ends up looking quite terrible. Mh wife has banned me from taking pbotos of her decorative baking.

    The DOF issue is also real. The bigger the camera's sensor the worse it gets.

    There are ways to get around it. Moderately succesful method is to use a very small aperture. To compensate, you will need A LOT of light. And lights aren't cheap either.

    The better method is called focus stacking. This also requires special equipment (either a top-end camera and lens or a so-called rail), which must then be combined with lots of time post-processing each image.

    I actually think I can probably take better pictures of things like newelry with my phone than with my camera, especially if I don't spend a lot of time setting up and then editing.
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  23. #17
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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Peter and Elsa are correct again, think you need to try each and see what suits your needs and then test the the different options and choose which you like. My macro crazy friends do most of the small things with crop sensors and 15 to 40mm macro lenses. Then its stacking etc. I found the jewellery very difficult, especially the lighting (don't have a light box) and you can see all the flaws and the diamond code etc. You will cringe when you see dirt trapped in rings eish
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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Quote Originally Posted by Gifmonster View Post
    Peter and Elsa are correct again, think you need to try each and see what suits your needs and then test the the different options and choose which you like. My macro crazy friends do most of the small things with crop sensors and 15 to 40mm macro lenses. Then its stacking etc. I found the jewellery very difficult, especially the lighting (don't have a light box) and you can see all the flaws and the diamond code etc. You will cringe when you see dirt trapped in rings eish
    Jip, jewellery is not easy AT ALL, the sad part is that the public are so mislead with highly edited images which are on show online and in glossy magazines that when they come to the jewellery wanting THIS ring, they are usually VERY disappointed with what the reality is.

    Ironically, with mobile phone cameras and clip on macro lenses one can actually do a rather good job for a very low budget. I have a customer who has a thriving online business, with all her images shot this way.

    Here are some images i have taken with the G7, set on Macro, custom aperture and shutter speed, cropped and resized in GIMP, for my website. NO manipulation of the image at all.
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  26. #19
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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Why not hire some equipment and test it

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    Default Re: Lens: Macro vs Fixed Focal length

    Quote Originally Posted by Nico H View Post
    Why not hire some equipment and test it
    Great idea, thank you.

    In fact i am going to ask them to do me a demo as well

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