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Thread: Macro lenses for non-macro work

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Macro lenses for non-macro work

    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.

  2. #2
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    brooklyn, nyc

    Macro lenses for non-macro work

    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.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Macro lenses for non-macro work

    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.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Frisco, Texas

    Macro lenses for non-macro work

    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.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2001

    Macro lenses for non-macro work

    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!

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