At the same focal length, let’s say 50 mm, an ant will not have the same size in the photo if you are 50 cm from it or 5 cm away, that seems obvious. This is where the minimum focusing distance comes in : only macro lenses allow you to focus at a very short distance, and therefore to obtain full-frame shots of… ants.
So a lens is macro if it has this characteristic, which therefore has nothing to do with the focal length: there are 50 or 200 mm macro lenses.
Zoom or fixed focal length?
To put it simply: a zoom has a focal length that can change, a fixed focal length, well… is fixed.
You’re going to say to me: ” But fixed focal lengths suck, you have to walk instead of zooming in!” ». Bunch of slackers!
I will generalize a little obviously, because there are good and bad optics in both categories, but let’s see their advantages:
What are the advantages of fixed focal lengths?
- Quality: Zooms have improved considerably, but at an equivalent budget, a fixed focal length produces sharperand more precise images, with more sharpness than zooms. Do not start from this prejudice systematically, but it is a rule which is verified well in general. That said, you have to put this into perspective a lot today: in the majority of cases, you won’t see the difference.
- Price: Fixed focal lengths are less expensive in general, which seems logical since they are of a simpler construction (they do not zoom in particular). There are obviously extremely expensive fixed focal lengths, but only in the professional ranges. Entry-level 50mms are known for being extremely inexpensive and yet of great optical quality.
- Weight and compactness: Always because they are of a simpler design, fixed focal lengths are lighter and more compact. Which is not negligible after a day of walking, going on a trip, or in the street to remain discreet.
- Maximum aperture: They generally have a larger maximum aperture than zooms, but we will talk about this point later.
- Creativity: It may be more personal and a little less objective, but by forcing you to move around to get the frame right, a fixed focal length forces you to be creative and find other angles of view.
What are the advantages of zooms?
- Versatility: As zooms cover a greater focal range, they allow you to take photos of several different types. Depending on what lenses you carry in your bag, they can even be a weight and cost advantage (a zoom is arguably lighter than 3 primes which do almost the same thing). Check for more info on dzofilm.com.
- Flexibility: Depending on the focal range it covers, a zoom can offer you the possibility of shooting at a wide-angle, standard and telephoto focal length with the same lens! I am thinking for example of the “transtandards” of the 18-200mm type.
The article may already seem long to you, but there are many factors to take into account, and we are talking about how you will spend your next Christmas bonus. And preparing your purchase well could save you money a few denarii. But don’t worry, the rest will be shorter!