Talk:Macro photography

Latest comment: 5 years ago by Nvtj in topic macrophotography or photomacrography
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Coins — an overexplanation?Edit

Sorry, but isn't all the coin story in the leading paragraph an overexplanation? It doesn't seem of much use (it's an encyclopedia, not a textbook) and the useful information tends to get lost in it...  Pt (T) 01:01, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)

What would you prefer? It's possible to move that to Magnification or to create Magnification (photography) or cut it out entirely. Or maybe there are other possibilities too? Fg2 02:18, Jun 24, 2005 (UTC)
I didn't mind the coin example, but I think informal second person is a bit awkward for an encyclopedia ("For example, suppose you take a macro photograph of a coin on film"). Any ideas on how to rework that? Uttaddmb 01:57, 22 July 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I gave it a try. Feel free to work on it some more. Fg2 02:09, July 22, 2005 (UTC)
I rewrote the intro. I removed an awful lot of text that read more like a story than an encyclopedia article, and explained the concept several times in different ways. That's good if people don't understand at first, but I agree about useful info getting lost, and that's a lot of reading for people who understand the first time.
What caught my attention as needing to be changed, was the part about it being a requirement for the camera to be able to focus to 1:1 - this is misleading. Cameras don't focus, lenses do; the lens collects light being reflected at it, and projects this onto the sensor ( film or digital ) inside the camera. Modern cameras have autofocus, which tells the lens where to focus, but (1) the lens is still "doing" the focus by moving internal glass elements, and (2) most macro photographers use manual focus, even with AF cameras.
If people don't agree with removing much of the text, it can be reverted, but I feel the camera vs lens being able to focus to 1:1 is an important distinction, and should be kept.
ForrestCroce 22:30, 16 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I'm curious: why macro? Shouldn't it be micro photography? See Macroscopic.

Indeed, one manufacturer calls its lenses "micro" even though the most common term in the industry is "macro." It's a branch of photography between photomicrography and ordinary photography. I guess the objects are macroscopic --- it doesn't require a microscope to see a coin or an insect, for example --- so perhaps that's why the term arose? Certainly, I don't know why it's called "macrophotography," but that is the most widely used expression. The article macroscopic bears this out, as it encompasses things as small as a millimeter. Fg2 02:22, 24 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's just one of those terms that evolved into a confusing use of the word. Sort of like how the word "shutter" can mean the thing that blocks light from hitting the film or chip, but "shutter" can also mean the button you push to take a photograph. While "micro" would probably make more sense, it's forever engrained into the language of photography, and even has its own technical definition: "macro" in photo optics means "life-size magnification" or 1:1, ie the subject being the same size on the film plane as in reality. Which is a difficult trick for a lens to do, costs two stops of light, and changes depth of field from being 1/3 in front of the subject and 2/3 behind, to evenly split. ForrestCroce 22:05, 16 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No, it has real meaning: The term "macro" is not about the micro-sized subjects, but is about the lens, and what it does. "Macro" simply means "large", and a "macro lens" is a lens that enlarges, or magnifies the subject, to either life-size or greater (on the film). All other (non-macro) lenses project an image that is smaller than the subject; macro lenses project an image that is the same size, or larger than the subject.DSiegfried (talk) 01:43, 14 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Gallery FormatEdit

i think it will be good to put all the five images in gallery format (for example of gallery format see hibiscus) --vineeth 05:18, 3 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I strongly disagree. The hibiscus article has very little flow text and lots of images, it makes sense there. But this page has much more text to support less images. --Dschwen 08:46, 3 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Is Image:IMGP4550.JPG really useful for this article? -- Smial 18:09, 13 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lens nomenclature conventionEdit

I just bought a pack of three macro screw-in lenses, and they all have markings on them ranging from +1 to +4. What does this mean? Are they standard numbers that mean the same thing to everybody? Is it worth including in the article? I even have a table that came with the lenses, but since I'm new to photography it's a bit confusing. Thanks. -W0lfie 02:32, 28 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, I don't know what those numbers mean. I'm no expert photographer though. Are they to do with the macro magnification? Does the table provide any clues? Imroy 04:46, 28 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I asked on the Deviantart forum, and the answer is that they're probably dioptre numbers. Does that help? Imroy 08:10, 2 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Imroy, I think that's right. Looking at the numbers in the table, they follow an inverse relationship to the sum. But you only see the relationship if you add the +1, et al. to the original dioptre of the lens. Thanks for your help. Is this sort of thing pertinent to the article? --W0lfie 23:21, 5 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
BTW. What I have are close-up lenses. Not a true macro lens. They help the camera focus on the close up things. That could help explain the dioptre number being on there.--W0lfie 00:06, 6 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So are they seperate lenses (attaching to the lens mount on the camera), or do they attach to the filter thread on the front of an existing lens? If they're the latter then they could help to obtain a macro-like magnification factor. Imroy 10:21, 6 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What you bought are dioptric filters. If they screw in to the front of the lens, they refocus the light coming into the lens in a way (1) it can accept and project toward the film plane, and (2) increase magnification. This comes at the price of infinity focus; you can't use them, say, for landscapes or sports photography, because your camera won't be able to focus at normal distances with them on. ( Which is the advantage of a "macro lens" compared to a dioptric filter ) The numbers refer to the "strength," or how much magnification they give you, but even though I've got years of experience at photography ( see my photos - mostly landscape ) I've never used this type of filter. So I don't know what the numbers are measurements of, but I do know that by "stacking" the filters you can go beyond 1:1, or shy of it. ForrestCroce 22:13, 16 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The number gives the diopter of the lens and is equal to the inverse of the focal length in metres of the lens. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:38, 25 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The above replies are correct, those are the power in diopters of those screw-on lenses. As others have said, that's one over the focal length in meters, so +4 means the focal length is 0.25 m. If you focus your camera at infinity (at the clouds or distant mountains) a point on the subject produces a parallel bundle of rays that enter your lens and get focused to a point on the sensor. If you put a +4 lens in front, then a point 0.25 m away will produce a cone of rays diverging from that point. When those rays hit this +4 element, they will be columnated so instead of diverging they are parallel. To the rest of your lens, that point now looks like it is at infinity. So a +1 will pull all of your range of focus in from infinity to 1 m and a +4 will bring it in to 0.25 m. Conveniently, diopters add (assuming they are thin lenses and close together) so together they would focus to 0.20 m away.
The math for what these do to the near end of your range of focus is a bit more involved. I think it's that if your camera can focus as close as x away, then it's like you have a camera focused at infinity with a +(1/x) filter on it, so with a +d filter on that you'd go from x to 1/(d+1/x), I think. —Ben FrantzDale (talk) 12:01, 14 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Real MacroEdit

Wouldn't it make sense if the sample images were actually representative of results obtained with a real macro lense, projecting 1:1 image on to the sensor, and not just from a camera marketted as such, these photos are very nice but at least two of them seem more like close-ups than macros-- 01:07, 17 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Insensitive image choiceEdit

Please remove the image of the spider, which is disturbing for many people. It is completely off topic, and there are any number of other subjects that could be used. I for one will not be able to read this article now. Thank you. Golfcam 23:53, 24 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You may wish to read the disclaimer before looking at anything on Wikipedia. The image demonstrates the subject of the article well. (H) 00:55, 25 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

All the example photos here are disturbing to me and although they demonstrate macro photography, I'm sure a picture of a flower or something [flowers usually represent the macro function on cameras] would work equally well. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:32, 11 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I understand the Wikipedia needs to be accurate, which is why I avoid insect-related articles, but there's no need for articles on photography [Macro photography, Depth of field] to be illustrated with something that is so likely to disturb someone. (talk) 18:48, 31 December 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sensitive viewer, not insensitive image: Nothing is "likely to to disturb". You are assigning active responsibility to an inanimate object. "You are likely to become disturbed when you experience insects or images of insects," puts the responsibility where it belongs, with you. Apparently you decline employment in the sciences. Fine. This is an encyclopedia, not a comfort zone for people afraid of the sciences. Please do not ask or expect the rest of the world to reduce their curiosity to your level of fear. However, you may want to explore the beauty in the images of things usually unseen -- the whole purpose of macro photography. Yes, they look like scary monsters. As we probably do to them. peterblaise (talk) 12:30, 18 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Displayed lensesEdit

I think that there should be pictures of "more commonly" used macro lenses, e.g. the Canon 100mm or the Nikon 105mm. Y4kk 21:27, 19 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sensor SizeEdit

I think we should change the first sentence to include the word "crop" because the word describes the process concisely and it is very commonly understood by even the most un-informed photographer.

Macro CouplingEdit

Most cameramen would have lenses in 18mm and 300mm size so they can easily get 16.7 X magnification. 50mm reversed over 200mm makes this technique look very limited so I edited the numbers.

Also a long lens (200mm and more) are quite sturdy. Lenses like 18mm are quite light and can easily be reversed on such a well built lens. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:42, 21 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Hi there, I found this article written as marketing gobbledegook for, and rewrote it on the basis of the use of the term I could find on Google. However, do people think this should simply be a redirect to this page? Or possibly a merge as a "use in materials science" section in this article? Tim Vickers (talk) 20:51, 12 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Macro vs. MicroEdit

The article says, Using a special-purpose lens called a macro lens (perhaps confusingly, some manufacturers call it a micro). Does anybody other than Nikon use the term micro? Could this be simplified to, Using a special-purpose lens called a macro lens (Nikon calls it a micro lens)? -- RoySmith (talk) 19:58, 14 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

History of Macro PhotoEdit

Is there anything about the history of macro photograpy on Wikipedia? Is it maybe in a different article? This might be usefully integrated somewhere:

Mr. Goro, whose surname was originally Goreau, photographed many aspects of scientific advances. He invented macrophotography, making visible the world that lies between the microscope and the naked eye.[1]

I'm still looking for more information, and any help would be greatly appreciated. Scribeoflight (talk) 15:52, 11 December 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

macrophotography or photomacrographyEdit

The Oxford Companion to the Photograph says the correct term to denote close-up or photography involving magnification upto 20x is photomacrography and NOT macrophotography. It further states that macrophotography denotes "making of giant prints". The link is [here], but access is not free.

Citation details: Graham Saxby "photomacrography" The Oxford Companion to the Photograph. Ed. Robin Lenman. Oxford University Press 2005. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Bristol Libraries. 19 January 2009 <>

Unhelpfully, every other source seems to use the wrong (according to Oxford) definition.Brittanica seems to come very close to making the distinction [here], but not fully there.

Any more light on this?Mahadevan Subramanian (talk) 12:25, 19 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • I've recently came across a book source which agrees on "photomacrography" being a correct term, and proscribes the use of "macrophotography" for this meaning of extreme close-up: Freeman, Michael (2010). Mastering Digital Photography. UK: ILEX Press. p. 336. ISBN 978-1-907579-00-4. Relevant parts are quoted below, emphasis mine:

Photomacrography, commonly known as macro, extends from 1.0X to 20X (a 1:1 reproduction ratio to about 20:1), at which point optical conditions demand the use of microscope.

Note: because the word macro is so widely used and understood (and from now on I'll be using it in this book), you'll sometimes see the word macrophotography used ignorantly to mean the same thing. It doesn't; it means the opposite--photography on a large scale, which is so normal that the word isn't worth using. Photomicrography is simply photography using a microscope which is, at a basic level, surprisingly uncomplicated.

— Michael Freeman, "Degrees of magnification", Mastering Digital Photography (2010)

Nvtj (talk) 05:27, 11 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I have added details from forensics to show how powerful macroscopy can be in practice. Further examples of the utility of the method would help improve the article. Peterlewis (talk) 06:36, 18 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sensor size versus real sizeEdit

How do you convert the sensor size to life size (example when viewing on a monitor/printed)? For example on the 5 cent coin: the E in Cent is 1,5 mm real life and 16cm on my monitor giving a magnify scale of 100. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:50, 24 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Canon 5:1Edit

Just a note : the phrase about the Canon 5:1 lens, Some macro lenses, like the Canon MP-E 65 mm f/2.8, can achieve even better magnification, up to 5:1 macro, bringing the structure of small insect eyes, snowflakes, and other minuscule but detailed objects, can be found on this page. Did Mr. Trott copy what was in the wiki article or was it the other way around ? zubrowka74 17:33, 6 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Add on lens typesEdit

Not yet mentioned: the 2 most accessible add-on lenses for macro work are

  1. hand held magnifying glass
  2. lens element taken from scrap optics

No coupler is involved, its just held over the lens end to allow very close focussing, and hence macro images. Tabby (talk) 13:26, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The article needs a photograph a generic macro lensEdit

And not only special cases like bellows, magnification lenses, retro-ing. The MPe, being a special case, is actually way too prominent. -- (talk) 16:21, 15 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Focal length & focus distance?Edit

For macro lenses, is the listed focal length the focal length of the lens in isolation or focal length that would produce the same angle of view as a lens that could focus to infinity? Since macro lenses may not focus to infinity, these numbers will be different.

If the prior, then the definition of macro as 1:1 magnification suggests that the focal length should be at least as big as the minimum focus distance so that the pinhole camera geometry works out to produce 1:1 magnification. (This seems like it may not be the case since this 1:1 macro lens is listed as f=100 mm but minimum focus is 302 mm. —Ben FrantzDale (talk) 12:45, 14 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think the f.l. is at infinity focus, and the focus distance is from the film plane, so a 100 mm lens would have 400 mm normally. But this lens is an internal focus design, meaning the elements move, so at 1:1 it probably has a shorter focal length (closer to 75 mm). Dicklyon (talk) 06:31, 13 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Moved backEdit

In 2011 someone moved the article from Macro photography to Macrophotography. I moved it back, as Macrophotography is ambiguous with the other common use of that term, as explained in many photography books that distinguish it from photomacrography, or simply macrography, which is the topic of this article. Dicklyon (talk) 23:39, 12 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Do you mean "the making of giant prints"? I can't find any evidence of that to be in common use. I scoured the web for anyone using the term macrophotography synonymously with "giant prints" and could only find links back to this talk page, and forum discussions pointing to this page. On the other hand, there are numerous sites using the term macrophotography to mean "macro photography". It would appear that the use of macrophotography to mean "the making of giant prints" has completely fallen out of common use, if it ever was. I think your phrase (while macrophotography is something entirely different) will not only confuse people (it's completely different--how?) but it's false. My print version of Merriam Websters defines macrophotograpy as one word; here are four online dictionaries that also define macrophotography as one word:

I'm making adjustment based on Webster's DSiegfried (talk) 02:38, 14 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

35 mm equivalent magnificationEdit

I'm still learning about the subject, hence my coming to this article, but this section seems to be incorrect. The example calculation involves a lens with 35mm equivalent magnification ratio of 1 which hides the error. According to the formula the reproduction ratio increases with the measured height of the frame - shouldn't it decrease? For example if I'm seeing a measured frame height of 48mm then the subject is twice the height of the image on the (35mm equivalent) 24mm high frame which should yield a magnification ratio of 1/2, but the current formula yields a value of 48/24 = 2. Edvvc (talk) 16:14, 16 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for fixing that. Dicklyon (talk) 07:33, 30 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Inventor of macro photography - WRONG!!!Edit

the article lists Gorro, based solely on an unsupported obituary in a newspaper. a quick look through the various tomes available in a good reference or university library would indicate otherwise. WH Walmsey, in his 1902 book ""THE A B C OF PHOTO-MICROGRAPHY / A Practical Handbook for Beginners" claims to have coined the term "photomacrography", and reading his work will make it very vlear that he is talking about what we call "macro". furthermore, Walmsey gives examples of how to make such photographs. as Gorro cannot have been more than about two years old at the time, it is clear that HE DID NOT invent macrophotography.

I could just change the article, but some jerk will just change it back without actually checking the sources - some folks don't like their fixed little world challenged :-)

Anyway, Walmsey's book is available in a scanned copy online from a couple of major University Libraries, one of which is the one in Michigan (sorry i don't rmember the other). The book must be well out of copyright by now, so read away! Look, I'll even give you a link, to make it easy for you! Just go to the index of the book, and look up "photomacrography", and check the 4 references given there (actually, it is three, because one goes over two pages!) The ABC of photo-micrography 1902

Good find. It's also in his 1901 article. And 1899, too. I added him to the article, and removed Goro. Dicklyon (talk) 07:06, 30 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Glad to have been of help! (the same anonymous contributor, honest)

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