Greetings everyone! I hope that you are all doing well, and I especially hope that all macro enthusiasts are having a good time macro-ing!
I hope you find the previous article (8 Reason Why You Should Take Up Macro Photography) useful~
I’m back again with another article, one on magnification (sorry guys, I have to start with something basic before moving on to the more interesting parts hehe, please be patient ya)~
If you are one of the many few who got a little bit excited about macro photography and decided to Google Search a bit on the genre, I am sure the ratio 1:1 will definitely pop up in many articles. So ,what exactly is 1:1 magnification? Is it important? Read on to find out!
The 1:1 ratio for magnification (often referred to as “true” macro) is often displayed on dedicated macro lenses, where you can achieve this magnification by simply turning the focus ring to the mentioned magnification.
1:1 basically means that the size of your subject in frame is identical to that of the size of your camera’s sensor. Please see below for a simplified illustration, which will make things clearer, I hope XD
In drawing (A) above, for a bug that is 24mm in length (width not illustrated for simplicity); by framing the entire length of the bug at 1:1 magnification, you will get exactly the height of the sensor within your Full Frame camera (FX) = 24mm.
Of course, most users nowadays are using DX cameras with slightly smaller APS-C sensors e.g. Canon 600D, 650D, 700D; Nikon D3200, D5200 etc. A smaller sensor will result in magnification (Do look up crop ratio if you are interested) in macro shots. So for the same bug that is 24mm in length, at 1:1, you will not be able to fit the entire bug into your photo any more because the height of an APS-C sensor is smaller at 15.8mm whereas the bug is 24mm. You will only be able to fit the entire bug within your frame if the bug is 15.8mm in length.
This is useful because we won’t be able to tell the dimensions of a subject in real life. Unless if you plan to put a ruler or coin in comparison with your shots, 1:1 will serve as a means of reference should you need to measure the size of the subject in the future.
Of course, there is more to 1:1 magnifications, as illustrated below:
This 2nd illustration basically shows that for the same Full Frame Camera (FX), the use of macro lenses with different focal lengths at 1:1 will have different working distance, but at the end of the day, the photos (of the bug) that come out will still be the same i.e. the 24mm bug will still be exactly identical to the height of the 24mm FX sensor.
A longer focal length lens will allow 1:1 at a farther distance from the subject. For example, a Nikkor 60mm F2.8 will shoot 1:1 at ~5cm away from the subject; whereas a Nikkor 105mm F2.8 VR will attain 1:1 at ~15cm. In general, lenses with longer working distances will reduce the risks of scaring subjects away, but as a downside, be more susceptible to handshakes or movements.
Again, all these will enable measurements of your subjects when needed. Although most compact cameras have macro functions; without the ability to achieve proper magnification ratios, subject dimensions cannot be measured based on the photos alone.
Its not always 1:1
Macro shooters don’t always shoot at 1:1 only, after all, why should they? Most are not interested in the dimensions of their subjects (unless if they are really large, or super small), but are instead more interested at capturing the subjects and moments 🙂 A magnification ratio of beyond 1:1 (e.g. higher magnification) will often be needed to capture minute details if the subjects are small (say the size of an ant).
1:1 is essentially a “baseline” for a dedicated macro lens: a ratio often used to promote sales, but still a feature that’s good to have when measurements are needed.
There are other ratios of magnification. For instance,
(i) A 1:2 ratio basically means the lens can only focus up to 50% less of the subject as that of 1:1 (the bug has to be 48mm in length to fit the height of an FX sensor).
(ii) A 2:1 ratio, on the other hand, means the lens can focus up to 50% more of the subject as that of 1:1 (a bug that is 12mm in size can already fit the height of an FX sensor).
Most macro enthusiasts go beyond 1:1 i.e. 2:1, 5:1 or higher, this will allow much, much higher magnifications, allowing amazing photographs of subjects not seen by the naked eye. Of course, higher magnification does come at a cost, which will be covered later in future articles~
All right, I suppose there is still a lot that can be written with regards to magnification, but I suppose I will end here before I start going crazy with my long-windedness :p
As a verdict, it is good to know how the magnification ratios work, but in real life it doesn’t really matter what magnification you shoot at, as long as you manage to take a good shot. If you really need to include the dimensions of your subjects (e.g. for scientific shots), yet you cannot shoot at precisely 1:1, 1:2 etc. you could always take one extra shot with a ruler or coin beside for comparison~
I hope the explanations above are clear enough hehe XD Feel free to ask if you still have any doubts 🙂 I am also a beginner and I have much to learn as well, so please don’t be shy ^_^
Thanks for reading guys, hope to see you again soon~
Until then, good hunting and shooting! May the rainy season be over soon!
*All photos and drawings were taken/drawn by me. Please do not take or use them without my permission, thank you!