Dear Lens Makers: Please Make Slower, Longer, Lighter Macro Lenses

Dear lens manufacturers,

I’m writing this letter to remind you of something you well know. The age of mirrorless cameras is upon us. And with this comes the benefit that we can compose, focus, and shoot at f/8, f/11, and f/16.

In the prior age, that of the SLR, we needed fat lenses to gather light for our optical viewfinders. And that need was very well met. We have thousands of fat lenses.

Now, in this present age, many of us want thin, lightweight lenses. Our arms and our wallets are tired of the weight and cost of fat glass that we don’t need.

A macro photo of a bee on a flower
Photo by Alan Adler.

With a max aperture of f/8, the lens becomes much lighter for two reasons. First of all, the weight of each glass element diminishes as the inverse of diameter cubed. Second, fewer elements are needed to achieve excellent correction at f/8. And with the reduction of the number of elements comes both the joys of light weight and the beauty of higher contrast.

A macro photo of a moth on a flower
Photo by Alan Adler.

A smaller maximum aperture will enable something we photographers have long yearned for. That is long macro lenses. And we macro photographers rarely use apertures wider than f/11 because we need depth of field. I have five macro lenses that open to f/2.8. It’s a waste because we don’t shoot at f/2.8, nor f/4, nor f/5.6. Reading the photography forums reveals a steady stream of searches for long, lightweight macro lenses. I can assure you, dear manufactures, that you’ll sell a hundred 200mm f/8 macro lenses for every f/1.0 lens that you make.

A macro photo of a bee on a flower
Photo by Alan Adler.

So, manufacturers, please give this some thought. Thin lenses will fatten your bottom line and make a lot of photographers love you.

Sincerely yours,


About the author: Alan Adler lives in Los Altos, California. He has been an avid photographer for 60 years. He is also a well-known inventor with about 40 patents. His best-known inventions are the Aerobie flying ring and the AeroPress coffee maker.