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No Macro Lens Needed

No Macro Lens Needed
The macro effect is very popular in photography, but there is more than one way to achieve the effect. Jose Antunes describes how he achieves it with a very long lens

People keep telling me that they love my macro pictures of flowers. It is a normal association many people make, but in fact most of my flower work is created with long focal lengths on a 100-400mm zoom.

It happened again a few days ago. I received a comment from someone who said they loved my macro work. This is strange as I rarely use a macro lens, although I own three.

My passion for long zooms and the discovery of what you can do with them started very early. I used to have a 70-300mm lens, which was the norm back in the 70s and 80s. However, in the early 90s, once I got a longer lens, the Tamron 200-400 f/5.6 LD – which I still have but is no longer in working condition – I was hooked. One of the first things I learned with that zoom was how close it could focus. Having a 400mm able to close at 250 cm was, at the time, not bad, especially for a lens that, although not perfect, was cheaper than versions from camera brands.

My ‘macro’ long lens
The results with the Tamron were not the best in the world, but the 400mm field of view did make a difference. My passion for long zooms kept growing and during that period I also owned a Tokina 80-400mm for my Nikon system, which unfortunately did not last long. I never bothered to fix the lens, as in 1998 Canon launched the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS, which would become my lens of choice for everything from wildlife and airplanes to flowers.

Able to focus at 1.8 meters, giving me .21x maximum magnification, the Canon 100-400mm is not the best performer when you think of close-up photography, but the fact is that for flowers of average size, it works perfectly well. Due to its long focal length, it allows me to easily defocus backgrounds, which was and still is my aim when it comes to flower photography.

While others associate flower photography with macro, I ...

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1 Comment

  1. That’s not a macro effect. Macro lenses have a special trick, they can focus really really close. A macro lens would allow the capture of the centre of that flower.

    This is done with a macro lens, though it’s not a macro shot.

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