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Is there a difference between macro and micro?

Cindy Hodoba , Apr 22, 1999; 09:32 a.m.

I want to get a Nikon micro f/2.8 60mm lens (like the one Jim Brandenburg used to take one of his '1 photo a day for 90 day close- ups). I've noticed reading the posts that people use the word 'macro' and 'micro' when they talk about the same thing. I'm a little confused, is micro and macro the same? Please explain. Also, what is the difference in a close-up between a 60mm micro lens and a 105mm micro lens? Is it that with a 105 can stay further away from your subject than you would with a 60mm micro?

Responses

Bob Atkins , Apr 22, 1999; 10:40 a.m.

The difference is one has an "i", the other has an "a". While technically there might be a difference, most people use the terms interchangably. Lens manufacturers use the terms whenever they want to for marketing reasons. True "macro" or "micro" lenses should go down to 1:2 (1/2 lifesize) or 1:1 (lifesize) reproduction rations. Some 1:4 or even 1:5 lenses have "macro" written on them.

A longer focal length gives you more working distance.

Pete Parker , Apr 22, 1999; 10:53 a.m.

I hope I can help clarify your question about micro and macro terms applied to lenses. Micro and Macro are latin words for small and large. Nikon uses the term micro to describe their line of lenses for close-up photography. The 60mm will focus from infinity down to 8 3/4". The 105mm will focus from infinity down to 12". And the 200mm will focus from infinity to 19.4". All these lenses are capable of life-size magnification at their minimum focusing distance. I would opt for the 200 EDIF AF because of the increased working distance and the ED glass. This is a very expensive lens however, so the 105 might be the one for you. Good luck. Pete

Paul Ashton , Apr 22, 1999; 08:20 p.m.

I have seen explanations of micro-photography being that taken using a microscope, whereas macrophotography involves lower magnifications, i.e. using close up lenses as well as the special micro/macro lenses on a camera. Although it is semantics, the term macro lens should probably apply to Nikon's Micro-Nikkors!

I have the 60mm f:2.8 and it is an excellent lens for the money, though I would probably have bought the 105mm if I had more of the same (money). The Nikon Micro-Nikkors have excellent flatness and so can be used for precision document copying as well as small creatures and plants. The 60mm is also a good choice for a standard lens.

Richard Stum / Kinesis , Apr 22, 1999; 11:31 p.m.

As a former Nikon shooter, I have always been annoyed at Nikon misnomer in calling their lenses "micro." According to Kodak, in an old and authoritative book called "Close-up Photography & Photomacrography" the following terms apply:

Close-up photography = 1:10 to 1:1

Photomacrography = 1:1 to 50:1

Photomicrography = 25:1 to 1500:1

Macrophotography = murals made from small negs/trans

I think Nikon should use the term Macro as most other manufactures do. I use and like the 100mm focal length best for general purpose shooting.

Danny Weber , Apr 26, 1999; 12:34 p.m.

Nikon's misuse of the term micro is no different from the other manufacturers applying the term "macro" to every lens that gets closer than 1:10. Nikon is consistent in applying the "Micro Nikkor" label to their lenses that are optimized for close-up photography in the 1:2 to 1:1 range.

Allan Dranberg , Feb 19, 2008; 01:30 p.m.

I've attended a number of the Nikon School of Photography seminars; their claim is that Nikon trademarked the use of the moniker "Micro" for their close-up (1:1 RR) lenses and therefore everyone else must use Macro for theirs.

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