Do I need a telephoto lens or a macro lens?

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
rankamaterur Regular Member • Posts: 332
Re: Do I need a telephoto lens or a macro lens?

You may need both.  That is, you may need "Macro" (Close focusing) and "Telephoto" (Longer focal length). It is not clear to me from your description how large a field of view you desire. If you were to put a graduated scale in the photo, how wide is the field? 2 cm? More? Less?

"Macro", as you correctly surmise, allows the lens to focus closer than a normal lens might. This allows you, of course, to make images of smaller objects, and still fill the frame. The problem with focusing very close with a macro lens is that the distance from the camera to the subject may become very small.

This is where a longer focal length "Telephoto" comes in. The longer focal length means that you may position the camera further from the subject, for the same size image (in macro usage).

There are some macro lenses with focal lengths up to 200mm or so, which might be helpful in your application. I'm not sure what focal length lens was used for your example photos.  I assume it is a "normal" lens of 50mm or so.

You are in luck that your camera takes an F-mount lens. There are many options for macro lenses, (or telephoto, for that matter) in Nikon F-mount. For video, you actually do not want the latest offerings from Nikon, because newer "G" lenses control the aperture from the camera body, and there is no aperture ring on the lens. I think this would be a problem for you. You need an older "AF-D" or even older manual focus "AIS" type lens. Once again, there are several macro choices in focal lengths from 55mm up to 200mm. I don't think autofocus helps you in your application.

If you find you need even more distance between camera and subject, you can experiment with non-macro telephoto lenses of 300mm focal length or more, but you would then probably need an extension tube, to achieve close focus. This is a whole different area, and beyond the scope of this note. There are many experts on this forum, however, who could help you with that, if that is the direction you need to go. If you were to do this, you would find that the camera rig would become quite large, as telephoto lenses tend to be bigger, and you might want an extension tube of 50mm or more.

Lighting for 500 FPS is another rather involved topic, and may become quite specialized for your application.

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