What Is Magnification In Photography
If you do any macro or close-up photography, you’ll likely come across the term magnification. In macro photography, magnification refers to the size of an object as it appears on a camera’s sensor.
When you do a close-up with a lens with no special designation for a macro lens, you are “magnifying” the subject.
Magnification is defined as the ratio of the size of an image to the size of the object being imaged.
When using a magnifying glass, you increase magnification by placing it closer to the object you are looking at. The same goes for photography; you can use extension tubes or bellows (if you’re into that type of thing) to get closer to the subject and increase magnification.
A more familiar term that magnifies is your reading glasses. They provide a smaller image of whatever you’re looking at, making it easier for you to read tiny print or see small stuff up close without squinting and straining your eyes.
Composition And Depth Of Field With Magnification
When the subject fills the frame, you can’t help but notice the composition because there’s no way to include anything else in the frame. With magnification, you often don’t have choices about where to focus or your depth of field.
Macro Lenses VS. Close-Up Filters
Macro lenses are expensive—so if you’re not into making money with your photography or need the equipment only occasionally, close-up filters and extension tubes provide an inexpensive alternative.
When you add a close-up filter to your lens, it serves as a magnifying glass for very close objects. Close-up filters are sold in sets of two or three that include at least one with a +1 diopter strength and one or more with a +2 diopter strength.
The power of the close-up filter is determined by its focal length. A 52mm close-up filter has a +1 diopter strength, while a 55mm or 58mm close-up filter will have +2 diopter strength.
Close-up filters are also calibrated to offer an accurate image size for a given focal length. That means that if you put a 52mm close-up filter on your lens, it will take an object that would usually fill the frame and make it appear as though it’s filling the frame.
The Effect of Camera Sensor Size
The focal length changes if you put it on a camera with a different-sized image sensor. Using the same close-up filters and keeping your distance from the subject constant, you can get more magnification simply by switching to a camera body with a larger sensor.
On cameras with APS-C sensors, about 15 percent bigger than the sensors found in most digital SLR cameras, you can achieve greater magnification with the same lenses and filters.
Why Magnification Matters
Close-up filters can be a cost-effective way to do high-quality close-ups. The problem is that they typically cause a fair amount of softness and degradation in the image. You’ll need to experiment with your gear to see if the results are acceptable for your use, but, likely, you won’t achieve tack-sharp images with close-up filters.
Magnification with a Macro Lens
A macro lens is specifically designed to create images at very short distances, which allows you to capture extreme details and textures.
You can find many different macro lenses on the market today—from less expensive options with an average amount of magnification power to those designed for professionals that provide extreme magnification.
If you’re trying to capture a surface texture, such as the grains on an old piece of wood or the pattern in the fabric, using a macro lens and shooting at higher than f/16 can often be your best choice.
You’ll need to put the camera very close to the subject and use an aperture that provides a maximum depth of field. The great thing about shooting this way is that you can create beautiful images with theatrical perspectives.
One drawback to using a macro lens is the expense—they’re costly. However, if you need extreme magnification and sharpness in your close-ups, it’s well worth the cost.
How To Increase Magnification With Your Camera
If you’d like to try using a macro lens but don’t want to spend the money, give extension tubes or close-up filters a try. Extension tubes are hollow rings that move the lens farther from the image sensor, which increases magnification.
One drawback to extension tubes is that they don’t allow you to focus your lens at infinity, which means you lose the ability to capture distant subjects in sharp focus. It’s also difficult to capture moving subjects with them because of their narrow depth of field.
Close-up filters are inexpensive alternatives that are available for any lens. They screw onto the front of a lens and move it farther from the image sensor, which increases magnification.
A close-up filter doesn’t cause nearly as much softness or degradation as a standard close-up filter. However, you’ll still see a decrease in sharpness compared to using a macro lens with similar magnification power.
How To Setup A Camera To Get The Sharpest Magnified Shot
- Avoid making your camera shake while shooting. You can do this by using a tripod or other type of stabilization device, setting your shutter speed to 1/125-second or faster, and turning off image stabilization if you have it placed on your lens or camera body.
- Use your Camera’s mirror lock-up feature to reduce the possibility of a blur further. This function causes the Camera’s mirror to lift before taking the picture, which reduces any movement caused by the movement of the mirror.
- Make sure you shoot with a fast enough shutter speed so that there is little chance of blur caused by subject or camera movement. An excellent general rule is to use a shutter speed that’s equal to or faster than the focal length you’re using.
For example, if you’re shooting with an 85mm lens on a full-frame camera, your exposure settings should be at least 1/85-second or faster. If your camera doesn’t have a manual exposure mode, you’ll need to use aperture-priority mode instead. Select the aperture you want, and then adjust your shutter speed until the Camera indicates the correct exposure.
Problems With High Magnification Shots
There are several problems that you’ll encounter when shooting extreme close-ups. They include a highly narrow zone of sharp focus, moving subjects, and camera/subject movement. Here’s how to deal with those issues:
Extreme Narrow Depth Of Field
If you’re using a macro lens or extension tubes to achieve high magnification levels, there is a very narrow zone of sharp focus. This makes it challenging to capture a moving subject or requires even slight camera movement for proper composition, especially with an ordinary viewfinder. Your only alternative is to use live-view mode and manual focus.
Moving subjects can make your standard shooting techniques ineffective unless you have a tripod or use a faster shutter speed to capture the image, which requires manual exposure mode.
However, it’s easy to become frustrated trying to shoot a subject that won’t stop moving. Even if you switch to manual focus and turn off image stabilization, there is no guarantee that your Camera won’t move slightly when you press the shutter button.
Macro photography is all about capturing small objects that may be difficult to see with the human eye. As you can imagine, achieving high magnification levels with a standard lens or even a macro lens isn’t easy.
Many photographers attempt to capture extreme close-up shots using ordinary lenses and tripods, but the results aren’t usually very satisfying. If you want the best-magnified photos, you need to use special lenses that are either explicitly dedicated for macro work or adapted for i
Q. When shooting in the sun, does it matter which direction the shadows are facing?
A. Shadows have much less of an impact on your photographs when you shoot in bright lighting conditions. That being said, they provide depth and definition for subjects located in front of a well-defined background. If you shoot with the sun behind your back, it’s not going to have much of an effect on your images
Q. What are the disadvantages of using a higher ISO setting?
A. The main disadvantage of increasing your ISO is that it’s effectively like turning up the volume for your sensor–it may amplify existing noise or introduce new types, which can reduce image quality.
Q. I have a lens with a 50mm focal length, but it seems like my exposures are blurry when shooting handheld. What can I do?
A. If you’re using a standard lens and your exposures are blurry, it’s usually because there isn’t enough light for the shutter speed you’ve chosen. Unless your Camera offers manual exposure mode, you’ll need to switch to aperture-priority mode and select a smaller lens opening. Doing this will enable you to use a faster shutter speed without having too shallow of an exposure.
Q. What is the best way to capture macro shots that include movement?
- There are several different strategies for capturing moving subjects in your photographs. If you’re using a high shutter speed, it’s best to use manual focus and exposure mode. You can also try panning the camera at the same speed as your subject for an interesting perspective.