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Author Topic: What is a "Macro Stock Photo"?  (Read 6839 times)

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« on: February 27, 2008, 22:17 »
I'm new at photography and Im researching a lot to buy the right lens for my Rebel XTI. So...

One thing that I need to understand now is: Do I need a lens with macro option? I'm saying it because this lens will be my first one. And now I'm thinking something in 20-75mm range to be more versatile. I could spend 450 U$$ and at this moment Im really excited with the quality and versatility of the Tamron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 Di II LD Aspherical, that hasn't macro feature.

I have one idea: Maybe to answer my question the right way is show me some examples (from microstock sites). Then looking at examples I may answer myself my question.

Many thanks for your attention.
And really sorry for this buggy English.

« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2008, 23:28 »
I think that generally refers to the companies like Getty and Corbis that are Macro Stock Agencies, as opposed to the micro agencies, which a almost a whole different universe.

On the subject of lenses, Macro isn't really an option for a lens, it refers to the closest focusing distance and thus maximum magnification the is capable of achieving.  Macro used to mean 1:1 magnification (magnifies to the size of 35mm film, huge once printed or on digital), but this has been completely diluted and it is a term that really has very little meaning other than focusing close up on small things or small parts of big things (3rd party companies tend to use the term for any lens that can focus halfway decently close, the main  manufacturers (Canon, Nikon) tend to only use it for a 1:1 lens).  That said, having a very close focusing range is a very useful thing for microstock photography, even if not true macro.

I had been looking intently at a Sigma 17-70 f/2.8 lens that recently came out that has been very highly regarded, which, though not a true macro, has well above average close focusing range, though I opted to save up the pennies and go for Canon's 17-55 f/2.8 IS, steep on the wallet ($1000), but there is no better lens to put on a crop body IMO.

Keep in mind with lenses, versatility isn't always a good thing, a specialized lens is almost always better than a versatile lens, and thus will last longer (and a good specialized lens is usually cheaper than a comparable quality versatile lens).  I have no kit lens or standard zoom, instead getting a tele and Canon's 50mm prime when I first got my camera (over a year ago, more than 12,000 pictures ago), and haven't upgraded yet.  I feel the crunch a little and shortly will be getting an ultrawide (10-22), and eventually a Macro, before getting a standard zoom and faster prime.  Finding the money to actually expand my lens collection to what I really want is why I initially got interested in microstock in the first place.  You would be truly amazed at how versatile Canon's 50mm prime is (I also want to upgrade to the f/1.4 from the f/1.8) however.  Your legs can usually do the zooming, but it can go places (dimly lit) that no other lenses can go.  Plus the cheepie is $80, the nice one is $300.

There is a big school of thought for learning photography to start with a fast prime, because it forces you to take off the auto training wheels earlier (fast apertures like 1.4 or 1.8 have huge DOF effects, thus you tend to see the effects earlier and gain an understanding of it, coming from a non-SLR, it is very hard to grasp DOF like an SLR has, picking up a camera in auto with a fast prime on and pointing it at a group of people and taking a picture generally has very poor results because of the DOF, much of it will be blurred, you learn quick to always look at your aperture and think about the effect that it has on the DOF).  Having to use your legs more forces you to think more about your framing than relying on just zooming, another thing that improves your photography faster than it would otherwise, you get in the habit of thinking about the composition of the shot before taking it, because you have to.
« Last Edit: February 29, 2008, 07:44 by Waldo4 »

« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2008, 01:28 »
I have XTI with Tamron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 Di II LD Aspherical and for the price this is really great choice in my opinion. All my stock photos were shot with this pair, so feel free to browse my pics (not to say I'm that proud of them  :'( )

Of course there are better bodies out there and better lenses but for giving it a try, this is good starting point.

The answer to whether or not this lens is suitable for you is impossible without knowing what you plan to shoot. It is quite wide angle middle lens that will cover significant and very used range. However it is not macro neither tele lens, so you may run into limitations if you plan to shoot bugs or dears.

« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2008, 01:48 »
A macro lens is one that can reproduce an object exactly the same size on the film / sensor.

It will staate a Macro of 1:1 or greater in the lens description.

« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2008, 14:32 »
If you intend to shoot macro photos, you need a true macro lens with a 1:1 magnification ratio or higher.

This example has been shot with a Canon 100mm Macro (1:1):

I'm afraid that many of the lenses with "macro" options will give you a 1:2, 1:3 or smaller magnification in which case they are not suitable for true macro shots.

So, for a first lens, I think that you can forget about the macro option, or at least it should not be an important criteria.

As soon as you decide to shoot bugs, then you will have to purchase a true 1:1 macro lens which are most of the time quite specialized. You can even think about the Canon MP-E 65mm which is an impressive super-macro (up to 5:1 magnification) but so specialized that you cannot even take any "normal" photo with it (MAXIMAL focus distance is around 15 cm). I've just purchased one and I'm now waiting eagerly for the spring and the bugs   ;D


« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2008, 19:37 »
When I recieve replies I like a lot to see the pictures of the author of the answer. So here I go.

To start, thanks to everybody to try teach me what is a macro photo.

@Danicek: Your "white background" photos are close what I desire shot. And You use the lens that Im planning buy. For example, is the IQ of the "Piece of broccoli on white plate" good? The broccoli looks sharp or "supersharp"?

@Seren: I looked your Vitamins photo,

Do I need a macro to shot a picture with this quality? Is it a macro?

@araminta: Very nice example and very nice site. BTW looking at the sites gallery helped to figure out whats macro! Talking about your still photos, I really enjoyed the pictures with the 50mm prime lens. Is this one macro? Are that pictures with macro enabled?


« Reply #6 on: February 29, 2008, 07:01 »

@Seren: I looked your Vitamins photo,

Do I need a macro to shot a picture with this quality? Is it a macro?

That picture is no where near a macro.  Like I said before, a macro shot, is one where the subject is reproduced at the same size on the camera sensor or film.  So imagine you're looking at a piece of 35mm film with a shot of a fly on.  If the fly is the same size on that piece of film as it was in real life, then the photographer must have used a macro lens.

The vitamin picture above was taken with the Canon 50mm f1.8, the cheapest lens that they do.  The brocolli picture was also not a macro.

This picture however would be classed as a macro.  It's an abstract of a rose, you can see the central set of petals at the top in focus.  This was also taken with the above 50mm lens, but I added a set of extension tubes to get the 1:1 reproduction.

« Reply #7 on: February 29, 2008, 09:45 »
Seren - Just by browsing through your galleries I kinda figured that you used a 50mm prime.  Does it still get mounted to your 5D?  Seems kinda ridiculous, but then again, IQ is really all that matters, so who cares.

I wonder, for all the people that started with a 50mm prime or got one at some point, does it still hold a prominent place in the bag and get mounted often?  I know that about 70% of my shots are taken with it, and I figure, no matter what I have, even a 24-70L, etc..., my 50 will still get quite a bit of use.  Especially if I had the f/1.4 version, I bet that lens would have a big place in the bag (well little really, it's not like it is a space hog) for the next 20 years+, even though it is versatile enough to do most everything OK, it has a niche that it does better than any lens (honestly is there a better street/crop body portrait/non-flash indoor (like a museum) lens)?

Araminta - I have pondered what lens took that shot, such a great shot.  If Canon I figured it had to be either the 100mm or the 180mm as those really are the first class in Macro photography.  I've had my eyes on getting a 100mm at some point, seeing that that shot was taken with a 100mm really sealed the deal.

When studying lenses I always find it humorous that when comparing IQ the lens that almost all are compared to is...Canon's $80 50mm prime, and the phase most often used (for good lenses) is "image quality almost as good as....", it is very, very rare to read "image quality better than...", that 100mm Macro is one of the few lenses where I have read that, most L's even come up short.

I have found that, unless you tend to do most of your photography while traveling, versatility really isn't that big of a need.  I can see things where I think "wow that would be a cool shot if I had X lens", but for the most part I take just as many pictures, I think that they are just as good, I just keep to the limitations of my equipment , it is much easier to "look" for a good 50mm shot than it is to "look" for a good 10-300mm shot. 

I just look for what I can do.  Instead of taking and looking for pictures like this:

Taken with a Canon kit lens at 21mm

I look for shots like this:

Taken with a Canon 50mm prime, because of the low light (indoors), flash limitations, tripod limitations, a 50mm prime is one of the few lenses that would work here (though a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 could have taken it, I needed f/4 as a minimum to handhold it), but I took a lot of other shots that day with the lens wide open at f/1.8 just to hold it.

Take both of these examples with a grain of salt, neither is a stock worthy shot, just an example of what can be done with different lenses.

This shot was also done with a 50mm prime, + an off camera flash

An off camera flash is a very good thing for stock, if I had to choose between a versatile lens with zoom range and close focusing capability (I'll save the Macro term for true 1:1), or a prime and off camera flash, I'd take the prime and flash any day, lighting is extremely important to stock photography, and your lens performance is only as good as the light it is getting (no matter how good the lens, all lenses take crappy pictures in harsh midday sun).

This is a flower shot, but not a Macro (taken with my Tele at 120mm, but my 50mm could have taken it too), but many people would attach the Macro term to it (incorrectly):

This one is pretty much a macro shot (my 50mm with an extension tube, very close to but not actually 1:1)

This was taken when I was still new to the world of SLR photography so bear with the awful IQ, it is a pretty bad shot.  This marigold all the way across is no bigger than one of the larger petals on the Dahlia above.

The Tamron you are considering could take every picture above but the last one, though an off camera flash is needed additionally for the water one.
« Last Edit: February 29, 2008, 10:30 by Waldo4 »

« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2008, 12:55 »
@araminta: Very nice example and very nice site. BTW looking at the sites gallery helped to figure out whats macro! Talking about your still photos, I really enjoyed the pictures with the 50mm prime lens. Is this one macro? Are that pictures with macro enabled?

Thanks for visiting my site!

The photo of the 50mm lens has been shot with my "versatile" lens: a Sigma 18-200mm. It is a so called macro lens, but the maximum magnification is 1:4.4 which is definitively not macro  :P

This is not a perfect lens but still a good one and the focal range is very interesting for an everyday lens. It is the one I use the most for isolated objects shots too (along with the 100mm macro): I would recommand it personnally.
It is not a fast lens, but when you shoot isolated objects you don't need one if you use a tripod (I do) or a flash and when you shoot outdoor you have enough light most of the time.
« Last Edit: February 29, 2008, 13:02 by araminta »


« Reply #9 on: February 29, 2008, 18:05 »
After reading all posts again, and with the patience of the people here, finally I figured out whats macro and definitely (at this moment) I don't want/need a macro.

I started to think in buy a prime 50mm lens (canons 1.4) but my with the rebels crop factor (1.6) this 50mm would be a prime 80mm right? I think this is a bit closed angle for what I desire shot (isolated objects, food, portraits [in a garage - my home studio]). So... after that, I researched about a zoom lens and found the Tamrons one (AF17-50mm), that would give me real 27,2mm to 80mm. I read some reviews of this lens, some people were impressed with the quality of this zoom lens compared with a prime one. Do you agree with my thought (50prime vs. 17-50mm)? and my affirmation about the quality of the tamrons one ?

(please correct if I'm wrong)

Btw at Amazons site, in the gallery of the Tamron 17-50, I found a picture that "poped" my eyes with the quality of the image (I know, light is everything).
Here is:

« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2008, 01:39 »
Get the 50mm f1.8, it's perfect on a crop sensor camera.  I use it for almost all my food isolations, spare the latest ones that were done with my 24-70mm (although still shot at around 50mm!).

It's 40 if you get it from a Hong Kong eBay seller.  It's too cheap not to buy - every Canon owner should have this lens.

It is one of the best lenses that Canon make.  You'll less likely get technical rejections to do with the lens.  It'll blow the socks off the Tamron.  ANY picture can look amazing sized for web like that, the proof would be blowing it up to 100%, in which case I think the Tamron will cause you problems.  They aren't known for their good glass, they're known as the budget alternative for a reason.  The 50mm Canon would EASILY take that picture.  80-100mm is the classic focal length for portraits too.  It's classic for a reason.

Tamron also reverse engineer their lenses so there is no guarantee that you will be able to use it on a newer body, plus you can't use it on a full frame sensor camera if you ever go down that route.  I had that problem, I bought a Canon 5D a while ago, and two out of my three lenses wouldn't fit it.

Seriously, buy the Canon 50mm.  It's an awesome lens.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2008, 01:47 by Seren »


« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2008, 21:25 »
Friends, Id like to say thanks for everyone here, because now im feeling secure to choose the right lens for my goals/needs.

In the end I choose the Canon 50mm/1.8 II. I believe that this lens would be a great start to me. Start with a prime lens would force me think more in composition.

Again, thanks for all explanations, your help were invaluable.



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