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Macro Photography: Finding the Minimum Focus Distance for a Lens

Macro photographer Mike Moats was one of our guest instructors on our Vanelli & Friends Photography Cruise to Cozumel Mexico. Earlier in the day I heard him say you don’t need a dedicated macro lens to shoot macro photography. You can use a zoom lens to shoot close-up photography which looks a lot like macro photography. Intrigued, I met up with him to ask a few questions about the difference between a dedicated macro lens and a zoom lens.

True Macro Lens

A macro lens that has a magnification of 1:1 means the subject appears as life size on the sensor whereas a macro lens with a 1:2 ratio captures subjects twice as large as they appear in real life. Using these lens enables you to shoot very close to the subject.

Copyright 2012 2004 Mike Moats. All Rights Reserved

Using a Zoom Lens for Close-up Photography

Over the years, Mike said photographers started to describe close-up photography as macro photography. They would use a zoom lens to create a similar effect as a macro lens. The key to using a zoom lens is to find the minimum focus distance of the lens. Lucky, Mike was willing to share his tip on how to find that distance.

Finding the Minimum Focus Distance

Mike turned to a wall with texture and took me through a quick step by step procedure to find the minimum focus distance of any lens.

Step 1 : Zoom the lens all the way out to its maximum focal length.


Step 2 : Using manual focus, start out a little far from the subject matter and focus.


Step 3: Move a little closer and refocus. Continue until you can’t focus. You are now inside the minimum focus distance. Back up just a little. You are now at your minimum focus distance.


Step 4: Once you find the minimum focusing distance, you can view just how small of an area you will be able to capture with that lens.

*Feature image monticellllo and napeter / Dollar Photo Club
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