Close-focusing with a non-macro lens : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I recently bought a Sinar F1 and a Nikon 210mm/5.6 lens. I realize that the Nikon lens is not a macro, but how close can I focus it before I exceed its limits and enter the macro realm? I'd like to do table-top photography of items that are 5-10 inches in size (for example, a computer mouse). Thanks for your help.

-- Joel Collins (, May 01, 2000


Magnification is a function of focal length and bellows draw. For 1:1 or 1X, you need to be able to extend the lens to about twice its focal length (with your lens, you need to get about 420mm between film and lens nodal point). If you're looking at photographing objects about 5 to 10 inches in size, thats about 0.5X to 1X (which isn't horribly unamanageable magnification). Assuming you have sufficient bellows, you can get the magnification you want. Regarding quality, you're likely to hear differing opinions. The Nikon is not a true macro lens (which proably have flatter fields etc). However, given that photographing 3 dimensional objects often involves stopping down for depth of field, diffraction rapidly becomes a formidable factor (especially since effective f-stop is even smaller with the bellows extension). This means that lenses are diffraction limited fairly frequently. I'm quite happy with regular lenses at this range of magnifications. If a flat field is an issue, you can try using your enlarging lens. However, others may be more discerning in their demands and might demand a true macro lens. Good luck. DJ

-- N Dhananjay (, May 01, 2000.

greater then 1:10 a macro lens will be noticeably superior.

-- Bob Salomon (, May 02, 2000.

Is it possible to use close-up lens? Actually I have the same question to ask. Thanks!

-- Yong-ran Zhu (, May 02, 2000.

Not if you want a professional quality image. Even multi element close up lenses are no where near as good as a true macro lens.

But they may make an acceptable image for you depending on how critical you are and the effect you are after.

But not if it is edge to edge critical results.

-- Bob Salomon (, May 02, 2000.

I have found the Rodenstock Apo-Ronar 300 mm, Nikkor 200 mm M-lens, and Schneider 210 G-Claron obviously superior for 1:1 to 1:10 images compared to what can be attained with the N-Sironar 210 mm lens. I do not know whether a true 120 mm or 180 mm macro lens would ensure even a better 1:1 image.

-- David Caldwell (, May 02, 2000. you, I read the answers to the question that you posted.

Then I look at the photographs of Edward Weston.

No hi-tech lenses, no fancy lab, no zone system...

And again I look at the photographs of Edward Weston...

-- Dave Richhart (, May 02, 2000.

Thanks for that perspective, Dave... (And, of course, thanks to all the others that posted an answer.)

-- Joel Collins (, May 03, 2000.

Although a true macro lens may well provide superior results, I have had wonderful results using my 180mm APO Sironar S at 1:1 or thereabouts. It is extraordinarily sharp, resolving every tiny little hair on the edge of wheat husks, for example. I have not felt any need for a dedicated macro lens at 1:1, though for extreme magnification I have considered getting a Zeiss Luminar or similar.

-- Jeremy Tavan (, May 03, 2000.

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