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Thread: The difference between normal large format lenses and macro lenses.

  1. #1

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    Smile The difference between normal large format lenses and macro lenses.

    Hello. I'm planning to purchase a lens (210mm or 180mm) to photograph still objects. So far, I've used Schneider lenses (Super Angulon 65mm/f5.6, Super Angulon 90mm/f8, APO Symmar 150mm/f5.6, and APO Symmar 210mm/f5.6) and had very good results. Especially, the 150mm and 210mm lenses were excellent for landscape and still objects. However, I wonder if I could get even better results with macro lenses.

    Basically, most large format lenses can be used as macro lenses if you extend the bellows of a camera. Therefore, I wonder if it's really necessary to get macro lenses. However, if I could get better images with Nikkor 210mm AM ED or Schneider 180mm Makro Symmar, I might purchase one of them. Does anyone have experiences with these lenses? What are the drawbacks to them?

    I appreciate all inputs from you.

  2. #2
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    Re: The difference between normal large format lenses and macro lenses.

    Quote Originally Posted by gorsescent View Post
    Hello. I'm planning to purchase a lens (210mm or 180mm) to photograph still objects. So far, I've used Schneider lenses (Super Angulon 65mm/f5.6, Super Angulon 90mm/f8, APO Symmar 150mm/f5.6, and APO Symmar 210mm/f5.6) and had very good results. Especially, the 150mm and 210mm lenses were excellent for landscape and still objects. However, I wonder if I could get even better results with macro lenses.
    If your objects are flat and you want them distortion-free and sharp corner to corner, you may see an improvement.

  3. #3

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    Re: The difference between normal large format lenses and macro lenses.

    All of the Symmar/Sironar & similar lenses are very good down to 5:1 and in real-life, pretty good at 4:1 or 3:1 .
    I think you need to assess if you're going to be doing a lot of work at 3:1 down to 1:1 or magnifying beyond 1:1 really, to justify a special macro lens ( but I wouldn't stop anyone buying another lens - my moto is "you can never have too many lenses" ) .
    One option if you don't need the bigger apertures is to use G-Clarons which are supposed to be optimum anywhere from 5:1 to 1:5 , but also pretty good at infinity . Only f/9, but that might be OK .

  4. #4
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    Re: The difference between normal large format lenses and macro lenses.

    "I appreciate all inputs from you."

    You might find this brief article informative: Shooting Up Close: Macro and Process Lenses

    For close shooting, Process and Macro lenses are better than ordinary lenses. They will give better color and sharper images. That's what we would expect, considering that they are engineered by some very smart people, to do exactly that. It doesn't take much enlargement to tell the difference
    Last edited by Ken Lee; 5-Oct-2012 at 10:24.

  5. #5

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    Re: The difference between normal large format lenses and macro lenses.

    It depends very much on your goals.
    Photography encompasses many disciplines with requirements quite different from "artistic" images.

    If you're involved in technical work, where the result must be an exact and accurate image of the subject, such that
    you can take accurate measurements from the negative, then you certainly need an excellent macro/process lens.

    Creative photography seldom requires that level of precision.

    Most standard lenses are optimized for images of roughly 1:10 to infinity.
    That does not mean that they won't work with closer subjects, it's just that there may be a measurable degradation
    in the image at macro distances. Whether or not that is visible in the print depends on many factors.

    My suggestion would be to shoot some representative subjects with your existing lenses, then rent/borrow one or
    two macro lenses of the same focal lengths and shoot the same setups with those. Compare the results.

    If you see a difference in your work with your setup, then buying the macros would likely be desirable.
    If not, then definitely not.

    The Schneiders you mentioned, particularly the Apos, are excellent lenses.

    - Leigh

  6. #6

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    Re: The difference between normal large format lenses and macro lenses.

    Hello. I'd like to thank all of you for inputs. I've decided to purchase a Nikkor 210mm AM ED lens.

    However, I still have a question. This lens is only good for close-up photos. It cannot be used for normal portraiture and landscape. I wonder how bad it is for normal photography. Does anyone have experiences with it? Is there another lens that is very good for both close-up photos and normal photography?

  7. #7

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    Re: The difference between normal large format lenses and macro lenses.

    Correction.

    There was a grammatical error in my first message. Sorry. 

    So far, I've used Schneider lenses

    →So far, I used Schneider lenses

  8. #8

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    Re: The difference between normal large format lenses and macro lenses.

    Hi,

    I used the NIKKOR-AM 210mm f5.6 macro lens for a couple of 8x10 portraits and really liked the results. I stopped the lens down to f22, although f11 or f16 might have worked better. I find that I prefer it to my NIKKOR-M 450mm and FUJINON-C 600mm lenses for portraits because I can move the camera closer to the subject (for framing the composition) and still easily focus. No vignetting, and I was shooting at around 1:4 or thereabouts.

    I also used this lens to photograph a large Juniper tree about 25 feet away (just playing with some PROVIA film) with my 5x7 camera and liked the results with that as well.

    So yes, this lens can be used for portraits and (at least some) landscape photography. Probably does not work well shooting at infinity, but I prefer not to waste film finding out...

    I did not see where you said what format you are shooting (4x5/5x7/8x10/larger). That info would help as well. For 4x5 and 5x7 my opinion is: go for it. For 8x10, you probably want to stick with close up portraits and closer than infinity (like <100 feet) landscapes.

    Hope this helps.

    Namaste
    Daniel

  9. #9

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    Re: The difference between normal large format lenses and macro lenses.

    Hello Dolphin. Thank you for the precious information. I'll purchase the Nikkor AM ED 210mm lens. I hope it will produce quality photos.

  10. #10
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    Re: The difference between normal large format lenses and macro lenses.

    Nikkor Macro Lenses are not designed for infinity or distant subjects.

    According to Nikkor Lenses for Large-Format Cameras the coverage at f/22 is 400mm (16 inches) at 1:1 ratio. At infinity, the image circle will be 1/2 that, namely 200mm, which is barely enough to cover 5x7 film. Am I missing something ?



    Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is not a lens for portraits unless you want full face shots - but with a 210mm lens on 8x10 at 1:1 distance, we will see foreshortening, won't we ?


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