Close-up photography tip

Do I need a macro lens for close-up photography?

Yes. No. Depends. Depends, like so many things.

Often, a long lens will do well. As in this image, taken with my 70-200 2.8L stabilized lens:

And the next thing you need to ask yourself is: how large does the picture need to be? What is it for? A large poster, or a small print, or a web site?

If the answer is one of the latter two, i.e. “not large”, and your sensor has lots of pixels, you can simply crop. As in this image I took just now with my 45mm tilt-shift lens on my 1Ds Mk3 camera, a full-size sensor camera. This is not a macro lens, so I cannot get close:

But because my camera has lots of pixels and this image was meant for web sites or smaller prints (like 5×7, say), I can crop down to just the watch, and I am still left with 1833×1222 pixels.  Even that is too much for this web site: when you click on the image below to see full size, you will see a large image on your screen that is downsized to just 1024 pixels across.

And that is plenty here. In other words, you may not need a macro lens!

A few more tips:

  • Clean the object before shooting. Every speck of dust will show
  • Use a tripod
  • Clean any remaining dust specks in Lightroom or Photoshop after taking the shot.

So… the obvious answer is not always the whole answer, or even the right answer. The world is not black and white; it is 256 shades of grey.

(PS: Isn’t that tilt-shift lens disgustingly sharp?)

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