Macroroni And Cheese

Macroroni: Very small pasta.

Okay, we got that over with, not we can go on with the rest of the column. Spare a thought for the food bloggers – I’m going to put ” macroroni ” in the tags and I’ll bet they all think it is going to be golden and bubbly.

Well, I like close-up pictures, there is no doubt of that. My model car collection gets a thorough shellacking with the macro lens for months and if I can find someone with toy soldiers or doll houses I will cheerfully fill up the rest of the time. I leap upon all the macro lenses from the camera shop I write for and put them through their paces – I am also trying the in-camera focus bracketing and focus stacking programs when they are available. My personal jury is still out on some of this post-processing but I do have some successes.

I would dearly like to have enough influence to persuade the camera makers to produce more short macro lenses – and by short I mean focal length. The longer ones are popular for a number of practical reasons but my needs are close to my nose.

The definition of ” macro ” has always hovered around a lens that will produce a 1:1 ratio of subject to the sensor. I say hover because like all technical subjects a degree of fiddling can creep in as soon as the Advertising Department get a whiff of interest from the customers and the science or mathematical specification gets ” bent ” somewhat. I have seen lenses marked as ” macro ” that went no higher than 1:3. Close…closer than the average standard lens, but not close enough for a cigar. If the Advertising Department was imaginative enough they would come up with a new term for the close-up lens that still made it sound desirable but did not bodge the language.

Well, in terms of close-up, the Full Frame digital cameras frequently use 90mm to 105mm to 135mm lenses as their ” macro ” offering. The subject can be kept at a decent distance from the lens and lighting can be poured in upon it. The APS-C cameras can also use these lenses, but see less of the frame. Fortunately the makers also start to reduce the focal lengths – 90mm goes down to 80mm. 60mm is made. 50mm goes down to 40mm. And y favourite independent maker – Tokina – even made a 35mm ” macro ‘ a few years back. Fortunately I purchased one and have been smart enough to keep it even when changing camera systems.

I use APS-C – this lens gives me the equivalent view of a 50mm on a 35mm film camera – and I am happy with it. I note, however, that the usage is via an adapter onto my current APS-C system and I have pure manual operation. It is a slow studio lens.

I was very impressed with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II camera in a recent trial and see that they make a new 30mm ” macro ” for it. This would give an improvement for depth of field while still playing in the almost-standard range. I’ve no money to change systems, so I can only hope that Fujifilm decide to make a short close-up of their own one day.

Or – dare we hope for it – a dedicated closeup 1″ sensor camera with a tilt screen and a really short 16mm fixed prime  ” macro “? And LED lights around the circumference of the lens mount to push light into the field of view. I’d add something like that to the stable straight away.

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