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Why Is Macro Photography Not Called Micro

Joaquimma Anna May 11, 2023
Macro photography is a type of photography that allows the photographer to capture life-sized or larger-than-life images. This type of photography has the ability to capture details and aspects of subjects that may otherwise be overlooked, making it an incredibly important tool for photographers. That said, there is an interesting contradiction in that, despite its name, macro photography is actually not “micro” photography at all. This article will explore why macro photography isn’t called micro and how

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Photography is a unique art form that can capture incredible images of the world around us. One of the most popular types of photography is macro photography, which focuses on capturing small details and objects in extreme close-up. However, despite the literal definition of ‘macro’ being ‘large,’ this type of photography is not called micro photography. In this article, we will explore why macro photography is not called micro and provide some insight into the differences between these two terms.

The Definition of Macro Photography

Macro photography is all about capturing small objects or details at a high magnification ratio. A common definition for macro photography is when an image has a magnification ratio of 1:1 or greater, meaning that the object in the image appears at least as large as it does in real life.

One reason why macro photography may be called ‘macro’ instead of ‘micro’ is due to the fact that these images often highlight features or details that are visible to the naked eye but difficult to see without magnification. This means that taking a closer look at small objects can provide new insights into their structure and complexity, providing truly unique and fascinating imagery.

The Difference Between Macro and Micro Photography

While it might seem logical to assume that macro photography should be called micro due to its focus on small objects, there are actually distinct differences between these two terms.

In general, macro photography refers to capturing objects or details that are larger than a certain threshold size while microphotography focuses on much smaller subjects like cells and organisms. The term “micro” usually encompasses subjects with magnification ratios beyond 1:1. Microphotography requires specialized equipment including special lenses or microscope objectives coupled with camera systems capable of handling minuscule samples.

This distinction is important because the techniques used to capture macro and micro subjects differ considerably. For example, macro photography often utilizes specialized lenses that can provide a shallow depth of field, while microphotography uses powerful microscopes and sometimes even requires specialized staining to highlight specific structures.

The Evolution of Macro Photography

Macro photography has been around for over a century, with early pioneers such as William Henry Fox Talbot and John Dillwyn Llewelyn experimenting with close-up images in the 1800s. However, it wasn’t until the invention of high-quality macro lenses in the 20th century that this type of photography really took off.

With advances in technology and more accessible equipment, macro photography has evolved into a popular genre in modern photography. Today, there are many photographers who specialize in capturing small objects at high magnification ratios, using a variety of specialized equipment including ring lights and extension tubes to achieve stunning results.


In conclusion, while it may seem counterintuitive for macro photography not to be called micro, there are important distinctions between these two terms. Macro photography focuses on capturing larger small details that are visible to the naked eye while leveraging magnification ratios beyond 1:1 while microphotography dives deep into minuscule samples where magnification ratios surpassing 1:1 come into play.

The beauty of macro photography lies in its ability to reveal hidden details and provide insight into the complexities of our world around us. Whether you’re interested in capturing tiny flowers or insects or exploring other small details in nature or everyday objects, macro photographers find new opportunities for discovery every day.

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