Unless you are a complete newcomer to photography, you will probably already know what a macro lens is. Put simply, it is a lens that is optimized for close focus and capable of 1x or 1:1 life-size magnification without requiring any other supplementary attachments. Some tele-zooms claim to be macros and may even use the word in their titles. However, they are normally referring to the fact that the lens has a better than average close focusing ability. Such lenses normally offer a useful and impressive 1:4 (quarter-life-size) or even a 1:2 (half life-size) maximum reproduction ratio. However, they are still not macro lenses.
A true macro is a specialist lens and, being so, it can be costly. All the leading brands have macros in their range, as do a number of third-party camera lens manufacturers. They are normally of fixed focal length and, despite their optics being highly corrected for close focusing, they still focus on infinity and can be used like any other lens. Macros are also ‘flat-field’ lenses, which means they do not suffer from field curvature like everyday lenses tend to. Therefore, if you shoot an object perfectly square-on, the centre and corners should remain equally sharp and in focus.
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