Working Distance

Working Distance

The distance between the subject and the front end of the lens is referred to as the working distance. A larger working distance will make lighting and composition easier. Another commonly seen term is focusing distance, which referrs to the distance when the lens is focused at a particular subject. Normally, the focusing distance is slightly larger than the working distance because working distance is measured from the front end of the lens.

As we wll know that a shorter focal length yields a shorter working/focusing distance, hence a higher magnification. Virtually all consumer digital cameras use minimum focusing distance as the criterion for measuring macro capability. The following table shows some data. These cameras use different focal lengthes for macro shooting. Some of them use the wide angle end, while some use the middle focal range. Without knowing the focal length being used, the minimum focus distance tells little about the macro capability of the lens and camera.

Camera Minimum Focusing Distance
Canon PowerShot Pro1 3cm
Fuji S2 Pro 1cm
Nikon 4500 2cm
Nikon 5400 1cm
Nikon 5700/8700 3cm
Olympus C-8080 5cm
Pentax Optio 555 2cm

Moreover, it is very important to know that lenses with different focal lengthes can have the same magnification at different focusing distances. The table below shows various 1:1 life-size capable SLR lenses for Nikon SLR/DSLR bodies and their minimum focusing distances. It clearly showss that a lens with longer focal length has a larger minimum focusing distancce, even though all of the listed lenses have the same magnification. Consequently, the minimum focusing distance does not provide much information about the macro capability of a lens/camera.

Lens Minimum Focusing Distance
Nikon 60mm Micro 21.9cm
Nikon 105mm Micro 31.4cm
Nikon 200mm Micro 50cm
Sigma 50mm Micro 18.8cm
Sigma 105mm Micro 31.2cm
Sigma 180mm Micro 46cm
Tamron 90mm Micro 29cm
Tamron 180mm Micro 47cm