Close Up Photography

Close up Photography

Achieved by either physically moving in closer to the subject, or staying in the same location and reducing the angle of view by optical means.

For each lens/focal length there is a closest or minimum focusing distance (MFD) this is the closest distance at which you can still focus sharply on the subject and a change in exposure is not required.

By convention Close Up starts at this MFD point depending on the lens it is normally in the region of approx' magnifications of 1:7~1:10x it extends down to the point where the image size of the subject on the sensor is actual size i.e. a 20mm diameter circle is reproduced on the sensor as a 20mm circle i.e. it's 1:1or 1x or life size.

It is at this degree of magnification i.e. 'life size' that Photomacrography begins we use the term Macro as a shortened version of the name, True 'Macro' Photography starts 1:1 i.e. a magnification of 1x and practically extends down to magnifications of 20x i.e. a 1mm subject is reproduced as a 20mm image on the sensor.

At magnifications higher than 20x we usually employ the Microscope.

But back to Close Up:

So how do you get in closer than the MFD, well examples have been given in the workshop notes

1. By use of accessories so you can move in closer

1a. Supplementary lenses screwed into the filter thread on the front of the lens

1b. the use of Extension tubes or Bellows

2. By use of optical devices to reduce the angle of view

2a. Tele-convertor or Extender as it is also called 1.4x 1.7x 2x are the most common strengths

3. A combination e.g.... you select a longer focal length lens to give you a narrower angle of view but the new lenses MFD means you find that you would need to move further back thus losing the advantage.

But by using an extension tube you can stay in the same position and still focus on the subject.

There are many lenses on the market which are marked Macro but in fact will not focus down to the start of the Macro region


And there are a few that can do so unaided the two I use most are:

For 35mm format which I can use with Full Frame Sensor (36mm x24mm )or APS-C (22mm x 14mm) bodies.

Canon 100mm ƒ2.8L Macro which will focus from infinity down to 1:1 without the addition of tubes or supplementary so can be used as a standard prime lens.


For Medium format Digital I use:

The Hasselblad 120mm ƒ4 Macro which will also focus from infinity down to 1:1 this has the advantage of a larger format sensor of 36mm x 48mm so I can get subjects double the size of my 35mm full frame onto the same sensor.

But you don't need one of those lenses to shoot a subject such as these


Southern Hawker Dragonfly Aneshna cyanea

Southern Hawker Dragonfly © Phil Gee

1:4 or 0.25x

(If you click on the image of the Dragonfly it will take you to the British Dragonfly Societies web page.)


or this Black Slug Arion ater munching on Butterbur

Black Slug Arion ater ©PhilGee

70mm-200mm @200 + 1.4 converter 1:2.5 or 0.4x

or this

Marmalade Hover-fly

Hoverfly ©Philip Gee

28mm -105mm Zoom with +2 supplementary


This technique can be used in Studio Portraiture

I often use a short extension tube in combination with a telephoto lens to enable me to get in closer than the MFD when shooting Portraits; there are examples on the Head Shots page were I have used a 210mm in conjunction with a 26mm extension tube to enable me to 'fill the frame'