technological correctness? Forum definition of <i>macro</i>

Discussion in 'Macro' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Nov 8, 2016.

  1. There seems, understandably, to be no guidelines for what constitutes a "macro" for this forum.
    Since this was raised in a recent fungus-post, what is the community feeling here?
    My personal view is that true "macro", technically speaking, is 1:1 or more,
    but
    I nonetheless also feel that this forum should probably be pretty accepting of the sort of images that would be taken by one of those telephoto zooms that have a "macro" setting.
    What do you-all think?
     
  2. I think it's like p0rn. Hard to define, but we all know it when we see it.

    While I'm sure it will annoy the nitpickers (and I use that term because you'd need a good macro lens to actually photograph nits), I'll go with ... "Macro: photography that's all about being close to stuff or little stuff that fills the frame pretty well." Not to get technical or anything.
     
  3. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    On a different site, a participant asked about a performance of a macro lens that happened to be sitting on my desk. I took a frame filling shot of a coin and posted it to show what the lens could do. One of the "macronauts" immediately scolded me, advising it was NOT a macro. Close up / macro-- Matt's definition "little stuff that fills the frame pretty well" gives flexibility and allows the most people to share the fun.
     
  4. My understanding is that macro is 1:1 or greater.
    For the purposes of this forum, I like Matt's definition far more.
    If the forum were to be restricted to the technical definition it would become even sleepier than it is at present.
     
  5. SCL

    SCL

    I'm not sure many potential posters would have an understanding of macro being restricted to 1:1, thinking perhaps any lens defined as "macro" by its manufacturer would qualify. So, I too agree with Matt's definition.
     
  6. Matt's suggestion: +1
    If the forum were to be restricted to the technical definition it would become even sleepier than it is at present.​
    Second that too!
     
  7. I prefer Matt's definition, and not just because he's another Matt of course, but because macro-ness might depend a little on what is being depicted (do you have to come as close on a bulldozer as you do on an ant?) and on what format you're using (do you need 1:1 on a tiny format?). I'd rather see more stuff that isn't officially macro than to have to worry about restrictions.
     
  8. +1 on Matt's definition.
    As a former large format (14x18in.) graphics camera technician 1:1 got pretty big.
    1:1 on an APS-C (1 inch on the long side) sensor gets pretty small and P&S gets even smaller so no one is technically qualified to call anyone out on the definition of 1:1 due to not knowing everyone's sensor size.
    Most I've found in past discussions on the definition couldn't wrap their head around where I was getting these specific frame sizes and what that has to do with the size of the actual subject. I gave up explaining it.
    Yeah, let's go with Matt's definition.
     
  9. Heaven knows I always tend to go with the "loosey leftie" rather than the "righty tighty".
    Here's a "macro" taken with a 100-400mm lens, for example:
    00eDtc-566310084.jpg
     
  10. I thought MACRO was less than 1:1, IOW the image on the film is SMALLER than the subject.
    And MICRO was more than 1:1, IOW the image on the film is LARGER than the subject. As in MICROscope.
    This ignores the camera marketing where the marketing people will call a lens whatever they want to, to get it to sell. Because according to the above definition, my MICRO-Nikkor is a MACRO lens, not a MICRO lens.
    But in practice, I would call MACRO photography, "close up" photography, using whatever method you want to use.
    That avoids the MACRO/MICRO issue and is more all encompassing.
     
  11. Yes, I agree with Matt. I'm the one who botched the mushroom thread. I simply forgot where I was. You all know how excited I get when it comes to mushrooms.
    I don't think it's necessary to get into the micro/macro mess. There are many very talented photographers around here shooting at 1:1 (with a 1:1 lens) and closer. There are also plenty of folks who get close up in many other ways. Let's embrace all of it, as well as appreciate, and learn from one another.
     
  12. A close-focus point of around 1 metre became accepted as the practical limit with rangefinder cameras, while with SLR cameras the cost and bulk of helical focusing mounts dictated a limit of about a foot.
    This brought a smile to the faces of professional scientific photographers, many of whom had a "macro" camera in their labs - this looked like a lightweight monorail camera with no movements. mounted vertically on a stand, sometimes with a light box at the base and with a bellows draw of around 450 mm. The whole camera could be racked up and down, and with the right lens (possibly with a FL of 15 to 50 mm and looking like a microscope lens) magnifications of up to 10:1 or so were possible.
    This was called "macrophotography" because only a camera lens was involved. Beyond this, microphotography involved the use of a microscope (light microscope or scanning electron microscope) for higher magnifications (using the microscope optics and no camera lens). The fact that lens makers with nothing better to do write the word "Macro" on lenses which focus closer than the limits I mentioned above is neither here nor there.
    "Macro" has traditionally been regarded as photography at 1:1 or larger, but the criterion for "macro" or "micro" is, I contend, the nature of the optical system used.
     
  13. I agree with Matt and others on not having a strict definition. While I have a "true macro lens" I rarely use it for capturing small flying insects or hummingbirds. This shot was made with a D600, 70-200 VR at f4, the magnification was about 0.25.
    00eDxa-566319384.JPG
     
    john grunke likes this.
  14. Another one that likes Matt's definition, for all the reasons listed above...even the ones I didn't fully understand! :)
     
  15. I dunno but each time the issue of a definition arises I first go to Wikipedia or it’s cousins first. For macro photography it stated: photos taken larger than life size. That is only half of the complete definition. What I learned in the 40’s was that the image on the film or the film plane is to be 1:1 or larger than life size. Any lens can produce a macro image. Throw a 4 x 5 view camera into the mix and it gets a little confusing.
     
  16. Any lens can produce a macro image
    Yes, but ... the performance of Tessar-type lenses falls off dramatically closer than a foot or so!
     
  17. From Brian Bracegirdle's pamphlet Scientific PhotoMACROgraphy, #31 in the Royal Microscopal Society's Microscopy Handbooks series:
    The production of images magnified in the range of x1 to x50 is the traditional preserve of photomacrography. Below x1 ordinary photographic equipment can be used to make close-up photographs, and above x50 the compound microscope is used to make photomicrographs.​
    On another topic entirely, David, two of the best lenses I've owned for working in the range 1:5 to 5:1 are the 100/6.3 Reichert Neupolar and the 90/6.3 CZJ Mikrotar, both reversed tessar types. B&L made a line of MicroTessars, with focal lengths from 16 mm to 158 mm, all Tessars. Tessars computed for closeup work can be good at it, tessars computed for work at distance are another matter. But the key attribute is asymmetry.
     
  18. Tessars computed for closeup work can be good at it, tessars computed for work at distance are another matter
    This is of course true, but lenses like this are comparatively rarer (possibly most common are the Tominons). You can of course reverse a regular Tessar yourself with a reversing ring, which used to be a very popular solution but is impractical to a greater or lesser degree - on an SLR, any linkages are rendered inoperative, with a view camera lens it may or may not be possible to remove and switch the front and rear lens groups. I personally feel I have got better macro photos at around 1:1 with a symmetrical lens (Schneider Symmar or Symmar-S).
     
  19. If images are limited to 1:1 in this forum, as opposed to a more generic "closeups", don't expect much of a following, especially if newcomers are beaten down by semantic vigilantes.
     
  20. Edward, when folks on APUG discussed whether to create a macro forum I predicted that it would get little traffic. Unfortunately I was right. Given APUG's experience I doubt the problem is semantics.
    Further on that point, Photo.net's nature forum is nearly as dead as this one. I'm not aware that it defines "nature photography" narrowly.
    I haven't looked for them but wouldn't be surprised to learn that there are better sites for people who feel they need to learn technique or want to share what they've done.
     
  21. Employed in a model shop I would document some of the smaller items I was assigned to fabricate. My (cremated) SL66 was ideally suited for this as lens reversal was built into the SL66 system. I used an ƒ4 Distagon before obtaining a Zeiss Luminar. The mantis newborn was knipsed with a Pana LX5. The other 2 with the Distagon. The parts on the portion of window screen were moved toward the lens through a sheet of light .008” thick for a seven minute exposure. The images qualify as macro. From what I have discovered the quality of the image was never part of the definition.
    00eE5E-566337084.jpg
     
    john grunke likes this.
  22. Further on that point, Photo.net'sure forum is nearly as dead as this one.
    Not sure I understand this remark - I personally have tried to contribute a brief history of the term "macro" and some practical tips for this kind of work. When I last checked, I was still alive.
    To answer the OP extremely briefly:
    1) In the year 2016, "macro" to the average photographer means any picture taken with a camera lens and closer than "usual" (let's say 45 to 50 cm).
    2) Since the average photographer finds that doing this is nothing out of the ordinary, he/she would not be interested in a special macro photography forum.
    3) The only people likely to be interested in a special macro photography forum are advanced amateurs and professionals working in scientific photography, who are relatively few in number and who NEED to get involved with terminology and the mechanics of image formation at a fairly profound level (NOT because they are idle trouble-makers casually playing with semantics), which would undoubtedly put off the casual reader.
     
  23. David Bebbington asked
    Further on that point, Photo.net'sureum is nearly as dead as this one.
    Not sure I understand this remark​
    Sorry, editing error. "The photo.net nature forum is nearly as dead as this one."
    And you wrote:
    The only people likely to be interested in a special macro photography forum are advanced amateurs and professionals working in scientific photography, who are relatively few in number and who NEED to get involved with terminology and the mechanics of image formation at a fairly profound level (NOT because they are idle trouble-makers casually playing with semantics), which would undoubtedly put off the casual reader.​
    On the one hand, the likely best way to learn is to buy a book on photomacrography. Bulletin boards like photo.net are useful but aren't suited to, um, deep discussions. They're for short incomplete answers and are infested with people who want to be helpful but don't know enough to shut up.
    On the other, http://www.photomacrography.net/
     
  24. Bulletin boards like photo.net are useful but aren't suited to, um, deep discussions. They're for short incomplete answers and are infested with people who want to be helpful but don't know enough to shut up.
    Dan, I consider your phraseology unfortunate. As someone with extensive experience of dealing with photographic queries at all levels, including 2 years as a technical writer with Ilford Limited, I know how crucial it is to provide answers which are relatively concise and easy to understand - rule of thumb for bulletin boards - text should not fill more than one screen. There are of course many aspects of photography about which it is possible and even necessary to say far more, but it is better to provide links for further reading rather than overload newbies in the first instance - too much apparent complexity and they will become confused, switch off and NEVER visit the bulletin board in question again. Yes, some comments may come from people who don't know what they are talking about, but it is politic to avoid saying this - no newbie will want to stay with a bulletin board which seems to be primarily a vehicle for grumpy old men arguing.
     
  25. "Further on that point, Photo.net'sure forum is nearly as dead as this one. I'm not aware that it defines "nature photography" narrowly."

    This is simply not the case. The Macro forum is new, so why don't you give it a chance to breathe before pronouncing it dead.
    Monday in Nature has guidelines, including this weekly statement: In the strictest sense, nature photography should not include hand of man elements. Please refrain from images with obvious buildings or large man made structures like roads, fences, walls. Minimize man made features and keep the focus on nature.

    "Bulletin boards like photo.net are useful but aren't suited to, um, deep discussions. They're for short incomplete answers and are infested with people who want to be helpful but don't know enough to shut up."

    That's just insulting to all the macro photographers here who are quite willing to to be helpful and know enough to do so.
     
  26. David, you're right, concision is a virtue.
    That said, I'm tired of one and two sentence answers to apparently simple questions that need a book-length answer. I'm also tired of short apparently authoritative answers that are wrong. And I'm sick of answers to "what should I get?" questions that say "get what I have" without consideration of the original posters' goals and constraints.
    Sorry, I come by my grumpiness honestly.
     
  27. and, what's more,
    "Get off my lawn!"
    00eEQ1-566397784.jpg
     
  28. That said, I'm tired of one and two sentence answers to apparently simple questions that need a book-length answer.​
    Oh, you mean like these types of exchanges?... http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3740
    There's a bunch of them like that. No clue what equipment used or whether they cropped the image using a high/low resolution small or large sensor.
    I didn't spend a lot of time searching that site so the odds of me coming across a first answer to a 2007 thread saying they just don't have their heart into shooting that close up gives an indication how lively that site is.
     
  29. My depressing thought is that this forum and the landscape one will largely cannibalize the Nature forum, such as it is.
     
  30. Robin,
    Fret not, cheer up. There are really depressing things out there to get depressed over.
    I'm not worried about Nature suffering from the addition of other forums. I see them as complimentary rather than in competition.
    There are macro photographers who don't use that skill set in nature or on nature based subjects. It's good to have a central place to meet on a subject rather than searching among camera make forums to find people who are photographing things like old watch parts, jewelry settings, or really funky stuff like cottage cheese curds.
    A cityscape will not work in the Nature forum, but it has a home in Landscape. There will be overlap, but that's ok. There's room for all of it, and participation in the new forums will probably wax and wane as it does in any other forum.
    The larger concern is overall site decline. I don't know if new forums will necessarily help, but I don't think they will hurt.
     
  31. I'm late to the discussion, but if any topic allows nits to be picked then surely macro is it ;)
    Matt's definition is obviously more useful, but my own rule of thumb is that macro stands mostly for magnifications between 1:2 and 1:1. No idea whether I (mis)read that in classic 35mm era macro books like John Shaw's "Closeups in Nature" or Lester Lefkowitz' "Manual of Close-Up Photography". All the more since both avoided the word macro altogether in their book titles.
    But it probably has something to with the time period and the fact that many 35mm to medium format sized "macro" primes in those days reached magnifications of 1:2 only, unless you added a more or less dedicated tube/converter/diopter or such.
    Does it really matter? I don't think so, Matt's approach will be perfectly fine and some of us will make the occasional grumpy comment no matter what definition gets the official nod.
    Would I for one mind if anyone posted shots taken with a zoom that gets only to 1:3, or asked questions about the use of a "true" macro prime for portraiture or landscapes, or posted their views on the performance of lenses designed to exceed 1:1 without requiring accessories? Not at all, that's what the card-carrying PN referees aka moderators are for. And are questions or shots posted in this forum going to undercut others such as the Nature forum? I doubt it very much, not least because that forum has its own rules, for example the weekly Monday in Nature thread has a pretty consistently enforced rule against shots with manmade objects in the frame.
     
  32. I found an interesting page discussing the NIKON MICRO NIKKOR, and it's naming.
    http://nikkor.com/story/0025/index.html
    Summary.
    The classical definition of MACROphotography is photography of a subject where the image is recorded on film in the same or larger than actual size. IOW magnification.
    MICROphotography was associated with so-called duplication or reduction.
    Micro as in microfilm was reduction of the size of the object on the film.
    Hence the Micro Nikkor.
     
  33. David

    but the criterion for "macro" or "micro" is, I contend, the nature of the optical system used.

    I always believed that the optical layout of a reverse mounted lens closely resembled the optical layout of a true “macro” lens. Or that reversing a lens places it in macro mode. But then I always found it more realistic to apply the word “macro” the final image regardless of which lenses were used. There are many ways to skin a cat but in the end you still have a cat.
     
  34. I like Matt's definition. It fits with my own practical application. Merriam-Webster's dictionary provides a useful definition: "The making of photographs in which the object is either un-magnified or slightly magnified up to a limit often of about 10 diameters." This seems like a useful working definition that sets rational boundaries. If we want to pick nits about nomenclature, perhaps we should rename this the "close-up and macro-photography" forum. Or, we can get over it and just enjoy one another's creative efforts and shared technical knowledge.
     

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