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Why the Canon S90 does not handle macros as well as the Canon G11? I understand the S90 has a minimum focus distance of 5cm, while the G11 can focus at 1cm, but why there is this difference since they are so similar otherwise?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Canon S90 and G11 share the same sensor, but each have different lens and that determines the macro parameters

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The lens on the S90 is optimized for compactness and letting more light in, so it sacrifices closer focus capability compared to the larger and slower (larger f number, smaller aperture) lens of the G11. "Macro" lenses for SLRs are bigger and slower than the corresponding non-macro lenses, too.

The sensor affects minimum focus distance just because it is easier to make closer focusing lenses if the sensor is smaller, even though the lenses are not really optimized for that. Macro lenses for SLRs cannot even focus as close as the S90's 5cm!

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Not sure about the accuracy of this statement: "Macro" lenses for SLRs are bigger and slower than the corresponding non-macro lenses, too." I have the Canon 100mm Macro lens, and it is a fast f/2.8 lens, which is faster than most of my other professional grade lenses (i.e. 100-400 f/4, 24-105 f/4, etc.) Professional SLR macro lenses tend to be fairly fast, not slow, as the larger max apertures offers more control over DOF...a very important aspect of macro and close-up photography. –  jrista Jul 19 '10 at 21:44
    
You are making a comparison between a fixed-focal macro and zooms though... Canon also has the 100mm f/2.0 USM, which is indeed faster. –  chills42 Aug 4 '10 at 16:55
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