Q: Best non-macro lens for macro work?

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Of the lenses I use most frequently, which would be best for close-up photography (generally 1:1 or so), a 135mm or a 210mm, both Symmar-S? I know that in the 35mm world, a 100mm macro lens will allow more distance between lens and subject than a 50mm macro, but I also realize that I need 420mm of bellows draw for 1:1 with the 210mm. I use a Wisner Expedition, so bellows draw isn't too much of a factor. What are the pluses and minuses of using these focal lengths? Please avoid the "you should use a lens optimized for 1:1" angle in favor of the arguments for and against the lenses I already own. Thanks in advance -- this forum is so incredibly awesome!

-- Todd Caudle (tcfotos@home.com), May 12, 2001


Todd, On the technical side, there should be no much difference between both lenses, as their design is quite similar. Perspective will show a major step and should be considered carefully, although a quite subjective matter. Once you have your subject filling the view- finder, DOF will be the same as the usual trouble it brings to the game. Kodak had a very informative booklet on macro-photography, covering everything from train models to baby-shrimps, including large-format, where the optical question was covered on quite a broad and realistic way. I mean, not trying to sell some piece of "magic glass". Maybe it's still available, I don't know. By the way, have you an enlarger lens? Good work.

Cesar B.

-- Cesar Barreto (cesarb@infolink.com.br), May 12, 2001.

Like Cesar said, if bellows draw and subject to film plane distance is not a factor then you should be able to use either lens. Pat

-- pat krentz (patwandakrentz@aol.com), May 12, 2001.

Neither wwill give critically sharp, contrasty results as they are well out of their optimization range.

A dedicated macro lens will be superior if edge to edge performance with optimal resolution and contrast is important.

both will be adequate though.

-- Bob Salomon (bobsalomon@mindspring.com), May 12, 2001.

Hi Todd

I would in most case prefer the 135mm because of the DOF! But do a testing with both and have a look at the result! If you need more distance because of lighting or so, then you have to take the 210mm and work with mister Scheimplug and if you want only the best then you should buy a macro lens!

-- Armin Seeholzer (armin.seeholzer@smile.ch), May 12, 2001.

Do you own an enlarger Todd? If so, a decent 6 element enlarging lens of 80mm or longer, will outperform a general purpose taking lens at macro distances. The lack of a shutter isn't much of a problem when shooting macro. You'll either be using long exposure times, or flash, anyway.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), May 14, 2001.

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