Why are movements so necessary for macro photography?

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I'm an intermediate photographer looking to move into the LF world. I do mostly landscape and close-up photography in 35mm and MF. In investigating to determine the type of camera I should purchase it seems that cameras that are considered suitable for architectural photography are also considered to be suitable for close-up or macro photography because of the movements available. Why is this? What benefits to this type of photography are movements? BTW, I'm interested in LF mostly for the negative size and processing advantages of sheet film.

Thanks for your help, Erin

-- Erin Needham (Erinnee@hotmail.com), April 18, 2001


Right now when you do macro stuff your depth of field is on the same plane as your film back. If your subject has a depth to it you use your aperture to increase the depth of field. The closer you are to the subjet the less depth you'll get with a given aperture. As you probably know f22 doesn't go too far when the subject is inches away from the lens.

Now with LF cameras you can make that depth of field plane "lay down" if you want, by tilting the front standard. Or you can swing the front standard so the depth of field is on an angle. This all by itself will give you more apparent depth of field even with the lens wide open. Front rise lets you peek over the subject a bit, or correct converging parallels.

The focal lengths of LF lenses are much longer (for the same view) than 35 mm lenses yet a 150 mm lens has the same depth of field no matter whether it is a normal lens for 4x5 or a telephoto for 35 mm. Without movements and especially tilt many LF shots would be impossible.

I know that when I started thinking about LF I too thought that it was all about the big ne, and that sure doesn't hurt. But now I realize that it's about control, and how little you have with a non LF camera.

-- David Grandy (dgrandy@accesscable.net), April 18, 2001.

Depth-of-field gets smaller the closer the object is to the lens. Therefore, it becomes more advantageous to be able to control the plane of focus to make best use of that small depth-of-field.

But I would think that architectural photography would use more rise and fall of the lens to make parallel lines parallel, and macro, if using movements much at all, would make more use of the tilts and swings to control the plane of focus.

-- John H. Henderson (jhende03@harris.com), April 18, 2001.

It depends on what you're shooting, but "uncorrected" verticals in closeup work can look worse than they do for buildings (partly because we're more used to seeing uncorrected building photos than we are uncorrected closeup shots, and partly because uncorrected building shots are assuringly bottom-heavy while uncorrected product shots tend to be disconcertingly top-heavy). Catalogs that show photos of books or boxes or bottles that are trapezoidal in appearance can look pretty amateurish, and it isn't just for subjects with straight lines that this kind of perspective correction can be useful. But if you're just shooting flowers or coins or such you can often get by without movements.

.,.,., .,.,,. .,.,.,

-- Simon (Simonfairfax@aol.com), April 18, 2001.

On the front standard: Swing and tilt movements are used to adjust the distribution of focus at any given f-stop.

On the rear standard: Swing and tilt movements not only adjust the distribution of focus at any given f-stop but also modify the rendering of perspective. You can correct verticals, you can also make the part of your subject that is nearest to you (emphatic perspective) or farthest from you (foreshortening) have more empasis than a normal (no movements on the rear) single perspective rendering would.

Combining front and rear swing gives you nearly infinite control of how the subject looks when photographed and also control over focus distribution.

Shift and Rise/fall on both standards: these are powerful compositional tools.

Now if you are asking these question because you are intersted in doing close-up or macro work in the field, the trade-off of using a large format camera for close up or marcro work becomes immediately apparent: the need for long exposure times (if using daylight) to compensate for the small f-stop and bellows extention factors; and the potential for wind caused vibration during these long exposures due to the large size of the extended bellows. In the studio or with powerful flash units these are not so much a factor.

Good luck!

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), April 18, 2001.

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