At what magnificaiton ratio will Macro lens supercede normal lenses? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have no previous experience in LF macro work. I wanted to buy a new macro lens as mentioned in another thread. In my investigations, I have been told by some good sources that any new LF lens can be used for Macro. The consensus is that most new normal LF lenses can get to 1:1 magnification with no problem. Is this correct? If so, where does the need for a macro lens begin to surface? 2:1 3:1 4:1 ???? Is the bellows extension the same for normal lenses vs. macros? Is resolution much sharper in Macro lenses? I find it hard to beleive lens makers would design macro lenses if their normal lenses would suffice. I am very interested to learn where the differences lie...Any input would be helpful, thank you all...

-- Bill Glickman (, January 26, 2000


Thank you Nathan for directing me to a old thread which helped answer this question. The very informative and generous response was from Dan Smith.. I cut and pasted it for everyones review. So I guess as suspected, the magnificaiton ratio seems to be where the macro excels over normal lenses, i.e. life size and greater. I guess seeing things side by side, makes all the difference, vs. looking at one and not the other, something very few of us ever get the opportunity to do. What a wonderful forum! ;-)

Here is the copy...

This has been covered in earlier questions & responses, but will probably come up again, so I will give some info I have experience with. In direct comparison of the same subject(jewelry/watches) photographed on 8x10 chromes at various magnifications, about half life size, life size and two to three times life size with a Macro Sironar and Apo Sironar of the same focal lengths, there was a difference that could be seen. The macro sironar was a bit sharper and has an image that looked better to the client and printing house as well at life sized and closer. At half life size the difference wasn't quite as pronounced. That said, the Apo sironar image was able to be used if needed without problem. But, for the client paying for top quality work I would use the Macro lens as it was a better image. With this specific lens(and the test I was seeing compared 3 of each) being designed for one purpose, it performed very well. I haven't seen the results of other macro lenses in a straight comparison so can't say how they would do. But with other formats macro lenses as a general guide, the Macro lenses would most likely be better for the task than any general lens, no matter the maker. Since the makers produce Macro specific lenses, go with them for this use and generally count on results as good as can be made, without compromise.

-- Bill Glickman (, January 26, 2000.

If you've already got a half-decent LF enlarging lens, then don't waste your money on a macro lens. Just adapt a panel to take your enlarging lens thread. The lack of a shutter shouldn't be a problem for macro work, as you'll be using flash or long exposures anyway, a bit of black cardboard should suffice.

Even if you don't have an existing enlarging lens, I'd recommend you buy one for macro use. Secondhand price is peanuts for even quality lenses like Schneider's Componon-s. This goes for medium format and 35mm too. Especially 35mm, even old Taylor-Hobson "Ental" lenses knock spots off expensive so-called macro lenses for resolution and contrast at 1:1 or bigger. (sorry, I'm banging on a bit now aren't I? I'll shut up!)

-- Pete Andrews (, January 28, 2000.

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