By Thomas Clark

Macro photography means creating an image in which the subject is depicted on the digital sensor (or film plane) in its actual size. That means it has a magnification ratio of 1:1, and if you printed an image the same size as your digital sensor (36mm x 24mm for a full frame DSLR), the subject would appear life-size.

The subject shown here was photographed with a 1:1 magnification ratio using a full-frame DSLR camera, and printed with the sensor’s true dimensions. See for yourself that the subject is represented in its actual size.

Macro photography isn’t a magnification but a true representation. However, the macro photograph appears to be a magnification because most prints are made to be much larger than the digital sensor’s size, and you view most images on your monitor at a larger size as well. A macro subject appears huge in an 8×10 photograph compared to its actual size of about 36mm x 24mm.

Because the size of your DSLR camera’s digital sensor is fairly small (relative to most subjects), photographers typically use macro photography when shooting very small subjects. It’s a method for showing detail that would be lost, or unnoticeable if the subject were photographed with less magnification.


100mm, 0.3, f/16, 640