The Definition of Macro Photography?

Started 6 days ago | Discussions thread
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John Koerner
John Koerner Contributing Member • Posts: 606
The Definition of Macro Photography?

One person here claimed macro photography = 1:1 life-size magnification and closer.

I've heard other people say macro photography = "a flat plane of focus."

I personally disagree with both definitions, but also realize we all have our own definitions, and even Wikipedia has its definitions.

That said, anyone who writes "their" definition is just giving their opinion, and no one is the final word for someone else. With this preamble out of the way, here is my own opinion:

  • Macro Photography = the use of specialized photographic lenses to make tiny subjects more visible to the naked eye.
  • Photo Microscopy = the use of microscope objectives to make even tinier subjects more visible to the naked eye.

For me, the photographic range for macro = a 1:4 to 5:1 Reproduction Ratio.

This is supported by lenses designated as macro, by top manufacturers, as for instance:

If anyone can show me lenses designated as "macro," from any other manufacturer, outside these ranges, I will be happy to revise my formal, publicly-stated opinion. Otherwise, my opinion stands, based on the evidence.

Therefore, IMO, the magnification range of 1:4 to 5x constitutes the accepted macro photography ranges (which includes the Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5x - 5x Ultra Macro and the Mitakon/Zhongyi 20mm f/2 x 4x - 4.5x Super Macro).

Perhaps the evidence above may actually lead to "An Accepted Standard":

  • Less than 1:4 = "Close-up photography" ...
  • 1:4 to 5:1 = "Macro photography" ...
  • Greater than 5:1 = "Photo microscopy" ...

Therefore, while I believe anyone who tells you different has limited experience ... I remain open to any evidence-based rebuttal.

Finally, I also believe "a flat plane of focus" is overrated. It is only relevant to forensics and coins. Edge-to-edge sharpness has no relevance to macro portraiture.


Edit/PS: It should also be pointed out that the first two, as well as the Rodenstock (that is, the highly-specialized 1:4 optics, are the most expensive and best-performing of the bunch, the Jenoptics being $6,325, and the Rodenstock being $8,273, while the 5x optics (Laowa $449, and the Mitakon $199) are the cheapest and most budget-oriented. That should clear the air of which magnifications are most important and where the perceived quality lies.

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