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Thread: Is it ok to use macro lens for non-macro works?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Is it ok to use macro lens for non-macro works?

    Hi,
    I am wondering if I could use macro lens for other works too just as with non-macro lenses. I used to have 110mm XL for 4x5, and I really liked it. However I realized at that moment that I did not really need this much of image circle because I could not really make much movements with 110mm length. The back and the front was too close. I am, where to buy 4x5 camera again, wanting to get a lens between 110-120mm, and I found this lens, 120mm Macro Symmar HM which has very good image circle too but half price of 110mm XL. But I am not sure if I could use this macro lens normally as I used 110mm XL. Money is not the first reason not to buy 110mm XL again. If I do not really need this much image circle for 4x5, then I would not want to spend too much for it.

  2. #2

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    Re: Is it ok to use macro lens for non-macro works?

    You can use any lens for any purpose you want but lenses are built to perform for the purpose they are designed for. Using a macro lens at infinity will give you an image but not nearly as good a one as the image that a general purpose lens would give. Similarly, the general purpose lens will not perform as well as the macro at macro ratios.

    But that large image circle that you see for a macro lens is at macro distances - not at infinity. The circle might be as much as half the size, or smaller, depending on the image ratio that the circle was given for. Some 120 macro lenses might not even cover 4x5 with movements at f22 at infinity.

  3. #3

    Re: Is it ok to use macro lens for non-macro works?

    I have a number of macro lenses that work well for both.

  4. #4

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    Re: Is it ok to use macro lens for non-macro works?

    Ryan, see http://www.schneiderkreuznach.com/pdf/foto/sr_ma.pdf

    Schneider recommends that Macro-Symmars be used in the range 1:4 - 4:1, says that the 120's image circle at 1:1 is 250 mm. This translates to 125 mm at infinity.

  5. #5

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    Re: Is it ok to use macro lens for non-macro works?

    With large format, you are either making contact prints, or very small degrees of enlargements (as compared to enlargements from 35mm and 120). Almost all lenses can make acceptable images under those conditions.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Re: Is it ok to use macro lens for non-macro works?

    try using a macro for a head and shoulders portrait and see how flattering the result is.
    People don't like being able to see every skin pore and blemish on their face.

  7. #7

    Re: Is it ok to use macro lens for non-macro works?

    I dug up some old test photos from years ago. These were done using a 180mm macro lens.




  8. #8

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    Re: Is it ok to use macro lens for non-macro works?

    As Ryan points out there is a big difference in price. Could anyone comment more on the performance issues? It "seems" (what do I know; i've not been doing LF work very long) that there is not a lot of movement of standards with respect to macro work. I wish to hear more about this because I've always had trouble with (insufficient) DOField with my 35mm macro work with a Micro Nikkor on the PB4 bellows and wonder if there is any comparison. My guess is that the problem gets worse as one goes to larger formats; <scream> "Is there an optics doctor in the house?" Seriously, is there real advantage to working MF, 4x5 or even going to 8x10 with regard to DOF or is it a plague in every land? (translate: should Ryan and I take a bath on buying a macro lens?).

    As an aside: how about the issue of a LF vs a MF lens? I don't really think this deserved its own thread but (1) Bosaiya's post (re: two flattering portraits) sparked a connection with a similar argument in favor of portraiture with the Makro Planar 120mm and (2) I assume the 4x5's are probably not (?) going to be contact printed. If yes read on.

    Maybe Ryan should be asking whether of not to go MF? Is there any advantage of an LF macro lens over MF? Most of us can recall seeing a side by side comparison of photos from normal vs. macro lens. I've never seen a book present a side by side comparison of the results using a normal vs macro lens BETWEEN formats. Any body disagree?

    I'll paste from K Rockwell: http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/macro.htm

    begin paste "Macro gets easier as your format gets smaller. It's trivial with point-and-shoot digital cameras, easy with digital and 35 mm SLRs, doable with medium format film cameras and next to impossible with 4 x 5" cameras.

    Physics makes this easier as the sensor or film gets smaller. As film gets bigger the depth of field collapses to nothing, and the f/stops are approaching pinholes and eliminating resolution due to diffraction and making lighting impossible." stop quoting KR

    Hmm, fairly strong and clear statement. You wonder how'd they survived in the good old days. But he's spot on with regard to DOField.

    Economics: LF lens seems interesting but as the resale market in LF contracts the Hasselblad stuff seems more sellable. This might be an expensive experiment because if you try to sell your lens next year in this type of economy (re: "market has gone very sour" in the "Lounge" thread) you/I are going to take a bath. I've debated whether to purchase a 120mm Hasselblad Makro Planar vs a LF lens. Since the summer prices have hovered between the lowest to highest (wining bids) of 439 to about 560 US$ for the CF T* version so there doesn't seem to be as much of an issue with regard to prices in the LF vs MF categories. I feel the Hassy is more 'sellable'.

    In summary, assuming the MF and LF negatives end up in an enlarger and there is no pressing issue for inordinately large enlargements, isn't macro work more the realm of MF?
    Sorry to complicate your life Ryan but misery loves company.

  9. #9

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    Re: Is it ok to use macro lens for non-macro works?

    I really like the look of portraits done with macro lenses and wish mine came out looking like yours.
    Just a thought. Aren't macro lenses slower and perhaps their qualities for portraiture might be partially attributed to a general tendency to underexpose the film? I'm reaching but just a thought.
    About the previous post: I'm sorry to have gone off on a tangent but my thoughts got out ahead of me while working on several threads simultaneously and lost the 'thread' of your thread.

  10. #10

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    Re: Is it ok to use macro lens for non-macro works?

    Quote Originally Posted by emo supremo View Post
    I really like the look of portraits done with macro lenses and wish mine came out looking like yours.
    Just a thought. Aren't macro lenses slower and perhaps their qualities for portraiture might be partially attributed to a general tendency to underexpose the film? I'm reaching but just a thought.
    About the previous post: I'm sorry to have gone off on a tangent but my thoughts got out ahead of me while working on several threads simultaneously and lost the 'thread' of your thread.
    Eh? Wot?

    Modern macro lenses for larger formats usually have maximum apertures around f/5.6. Older ones, f/6.3. The lenses we use at normal distances are typically f/5.6 or slower. And we typically shoot at apertures no larger than f/11 regardless of magnification.

    The lens' maximum aperture doesn't force underexposure. Shooting closeup doesn't force underexposure. How to expose is fully under the photographer's control, isn't given by the lens used. That said, ignorance of the relationship between magnification, aperture set, and effective aperture may cause inadvertent underexposure when working closeup. This shouldn't be a problem when shooting head and shoulders portraits.

    Cheers,

    Dan

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