View Full Version : Macro lenses for non-macro work

Mike Lopez
23-Aug-2004, 10:20
Is there anything inherently "wrong" with using a macro lens for field (i.e., non-macro) work? Are there any problems with distortion or sharpness associated with using a macro lens for landscape or architecture? Any input would be appreciated. Thanks.

23-Aug-2004, 11:21
well, all lenses are optimized for a specific reproduction scale (some at infinity, some at 1:10, some at 1:1, and some at macro magnifications). They'll all work at any scale, but they'll perform best if you stay close to what they're optimized for. You would expect a macro lens to perform quite a bit worse than its potential at infinity.

one trick i've heard of is using the lens backwards. if you could find a way to mount it backwards in the shutter, you'd be turning it into a non-macro lens. i haven't done this; maybe you could get a reality check from someone here who has.

Dan Fromm
23-Aug-2004, 11:59
Um, er, ah, it depends on what you mean by "macro lens." I have a small heap of lenses made for photomacrography -- magnifications no lower than 1:1 -- and none of them has much coverage at lower magnifications. Tominons, Luminars, Neupolars, ...

Most of them are fine lenses, but not really much use out-and-about. I've shot a 100/6.3 Neupolar at 40' on 2x3 to see what it would do; the results were very sharp but it barely covered nominal 6x6. I can't see the point of using a short macro lens reversed; the back focus -- end of lens to film, this time -- will be pretty short if the subject is any distance away. Polaroid sold the 135/4.5 Tominon, if that's what you're asking about, as a "general purpose" lens. I've shot one at distance. It passed light, formed an image, and all that, but was pretty mediocre. I don't use mine.

The macro lens I covet, the 120 AM Nikkor, will cover 4x5 at 1:1 but only 2x3 at infinity.

That said, many process lenses, e.g., Apo Ronars and Konica Hexanon GRIIs, perform well from infinity to 1:1.

So, what exactly do you have in mind to try?

Oh, and by the way, I have all three AIS MicroNikkors and use them at all distances even though my 210/9 GRII beats the 200/4 AIS MicroNikkor at f/9 - f/16 at all distances. The GRII is much less convenient to use on a Nikon.



Gem Singer
23-Aug-2004, 14:56
Hi Mike,

There is nothing inherently "wrong" with using a lens that is designed to be used as a macro lens for non-macro photography. The major difficulty will center around the size of the image circle. For example: the Nikon AM 120 ED Macro lens will easily cover the 4X5 format when focused at close-up distances, but it will not cover the 4X5 format when focused at infinity. It will vignette. That lens was specifically designed for close-up photography, such as photographing small jewelry items in a studio setting. In comparison, the Nikon 120SW (same focal length) will cover the 8X10 format when focused at infinity. That lens was designed for wide angle photography.

Armin Seeholzer
23-Aug-2004, 16:30
Hi Lopez

My Rodensock APO Macro 120mm covers 4x5 at infinity but its not easy to focus to distances more then about 20m. It is quite sharp at it however!