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When is a Zoom lens a Macro lens ?

by christy / January 11, 2010 6:17 PM PST

The definitions of Prime(Standard) lens, Telephoto lens, Macro lens, and Zoom lens and their uses are well documented. However, what is this Zoom lens with the "Macro" word ? How is it different from a "Pure" Macro lens or a "Pure" Zoom lens ? How is it used for ? [e.g. Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM as against Tamron SP AF 70-200mm F2.8 Di LD (IF) MACRO ?



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by snapshot2 Forum moderator / January 11, 2010 11:44 PM PST

The Sigma lens you listed is not a MACRO lens.
It can "close focus" down to 17.7 inches.
Which means you can put the front of the lens as close as 17.7 inches from the object you are photographing, but no closer.


The Tamron can "close focus" down to 37.4 inches.
and it has MACRO capability of 1:3.1, which means something that is 1 inch square will be seen as being about 1/3 inch square.
then click the "specifications" tab.


A Prime lens will magnify more than a zoom lens.
Some are rated 1:1, which means something 1" square will be seen as being 1" square.


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ZOOM Macro ?
by Papa Echo / January 12, 2010 12:30 AM PST
In reply to: Macro

The SIGMA Zoom is not a MACRO, and has max magnification of 1:3.9 and close focus at 47cm.

The TAMRON Zoom is a MACRO and has magnification of 1:3.1 and close focus at 37.4 cm.

I can?t see the differences by which the TAMRON is being labeled as a MACRO but not the SIGMA. I must be missing something?? What are the usage differences between the two lenses ? TIA.


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Macro and Zoom
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / January 12, 2010 4:15 AM PST
In reply to: ZOOM Macro ?

The meaning of Macro has changed since the digital cameras came on the market.

The primary rule now seems to be, "if the manufacturer says Macro then it is Macro; if the manufacturer does not say Macro, then it is not Macro."

Here is a comprehensive coverage of Macro:


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Definition of close ups and macro photography
by hjfok / January 12, 2010 9:53 AM PST

The definition of macro started back in the film era. There are 3 general types:

1. Macro photography usually refers to 1:1 magnification, but encompass 1:2 to 10:1 magnification. The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS has 1:1 magnification whereas the Canon MP-E 65mm Macro f/2.8 has up to 5:1 magnification.
2. Close up photography usually refers to anything lower than 1:2 magnification, mostly 1:4 up to 1:2.
3. Photomicrography has more than 10:1 magnification (with special adaptors or microscopy).

So the zoom lens macros from Sigma and Tamron above are not true macro lenses from the traditional sense, they are actually close up lenses, able to close focus and get life size on the 4x6 prints.

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Of Macro and Zoom lenses....
by christy / January 12, 2010 10:33 PM PST

Thanks for your reply.

What I am confused about is that some variable Zoom lenses are marked "Macro" and some not. What differences are there ?

If I understand corretly, a Macro lens magnifies an image with its lens system, while a variable Zoom lens "magnify" an image by drawing it closer so it seems bigger. So, I gather that if a Zoom lens is marked "Macro", there must be a slider or ring on the body of the lens to change its lens system... Am I missing something ?


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macro zoom lens
by hjfok / January 14, 2010 10:37 AM PST

They are not true macro lenses. They are what some people refer as "marketing macro", tricking you to think that it has more feature and can do more than its competitions. In reality they are just close up lens with lower quality images. The definition nowadays is quite loose, the manufacturer can call it macro if it can achieve better than 1:4 magnification. Why 1:4? Because this is the minimum that is generally needed nowadays to produce a life size image on a printed 4x6 photo. It is often a marketing tool to get someone to buy it rather than the competitions. In the above example of the Sigma and Tamron lenses, the Sigma lens can call itself a macro if the manufacturer wishes.
For a high quality macro lens, it is usually a prime lens with 1:1 (or 1:2 to 10:1) magnification. The lens elements are designed and configured to optimally produce a very sharp macro image (minimizing aberrations etc). Most macro prime lenses are high quality, don't confuse these with the macro zoom lenses.

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It's not a Macro...
by christy / January 14, 2010 6:52 PM PST
In reply to: macro zoom lens

Got it ! Thanks. Buyer beware !


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