Macro simply means big, micro means small now are they both the same thing ? In fact yes the two words point to the same realm of photography. Even close up photography is the same thing. That is getting small things to fill up the whole photograph. Now the scale of working is what differentiates them.Macro and Micro are used interchangeably for the realm of photography which aim at getting the object that is in the photograph to be the same size as the sensor. That is on a aps-c canon sensor the object would be of an area of 22.2×14.8mm. Let me get the idea a bit more clear, here we are talking about the sensor and not the photo. The sensor which is 22.2×14.8 (in our example) will be capturing a macro when the image falling on the sensor is of an area that is also 22.2mm x 14.8 mm. If you want to get an idea of what this size would be take a piece of paper draw a rectangle that is 22.2mm long and 14.8mm wide. Now cut along the rectangle to produce a paper with a hole. Now you are taking macro’s when you are capturing the area of the rectangle in the whole photograph, now we are talking in terms of photograph and not the sensor.
Why the two words macro and micro?This came out from the convention used by major brands. Nikon and some other brands use the word micro with lens that are true macro lens and Canon and many other brands use the word macro on lens that are true macro’s(1:1 or more). For convenience from now on we will use the word macro.Canon Macro 100mm F2.8Canon Macro 100mm F2.8Nikkor 60mm MicroNikkor 60mm MicroThe above images show a Macro model from Canon and a Micro model from Nikon.So is macro only 1:1?No, technically macro is 1:1 or more that is it can be 1:1 or 2:1 or 3:1 and so on. Usually we refer to anything above 2:1 as super macro photography.3:1 super macro of a flower3:1 super macro of a flowerThen what are close ups ?Magnified photo or photos that are not 1:1 but have high magnification ratios are called close up photos. Also some photographers refer to portraits as close ups. That is not part of the discussion on this article. Using diopters to achieve macro like effects on non macro lens can also be referred to as macro photography, but using reversed lens or bellows are actual macros and not close ups. Some diopters or close up filters do allow 1:1 macros but most are not 1:1 and thus this group of photographs also fall into close ups.Point and Shoots and macroMany point and shoot camera have the so called macro mode. These are actually close ups , most p&s(point and shoot) cameras have tiny sensors and their lens systems are made to be cheap than to be performers. So essentially it is impossible to achieve 1:! on a point and shoot or even a bridge. The reason being that the optics are not good enough and the sensor is too small. Even those cameras that can focus at distances less than 1 cm are not taking macros. So putting it simply P&S have close up modes and not macro modes. They call it macro because it resemble , a very vague resembles at that, to a macro.Also point and shoot cameras have a lot of mega pixels cramped onto a tiny sensor thus the quality of each pixel is very low compared to a sensor in a DSLR. Therefore the results that one can expect from the P&S’s so called macro mode is limited. This mode is good for the starting hobbyist who is not yet into wasting his whole salary on photographic equipment.
Is there anything else called Micro photography?Yes there is a realm of photography that attaches a camera to a microscope and then photographs of what is being seen in the viewfinder is taken. This is widely used in making textbooks and the like. There are some artists who make brilliant photographs using this technique.So next time your friend says his new point and shoot camera has Macro photography you know that he is talking about close up photography. Also when you see an image of an insect with brilliant details you can understand that it is a macro or a super macro photograph.Remember reading only gives you ideas going out and clicking pictures will make your pictures better.