So I am developing some 135 film and hoping to be able to digitize the negatives. I am looking into scanners, though I know many photographers digitize negatives by photographing them with a DSLR or other digital camera. I have a Lumix Micro Four Thirds camera. So far with my 25mm lens (50mm equivalent) I am not able to get close enough to the negative to fill out the (digital) frame with the photograph on the film.

So I am looking at macro lenses, in particular this one:

"Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 Super Macro"

On adorama or B&H

B&H's product description says that Minimum working distance (distance from front of lens to subject) is 0.8" It does not mention a maximum.

So my question is would this lens be suitable for photographing 35mm negatives? Is it too macro for the job? Or will it allow me to focus on and crop to the full frame of a 35mm slide.


2 Answers 2


It does not mention a maximum

Most lenses, macro or not, have no maximum working distance - it's referred to as "focus at infinity" or other similar terms. Only when you start using extension tubes, diopter "close-up" lenses and other means do you lose the ability to focus on distant objects.

I know nothing about that specific lens, but I would check various in-depth reviews for that and other similar lenses. For close-up shooting of film/negatives/prints/etc, what you want to look for are good performance with respect to the various aberration types, and a reasonably flat field of focus.

Once you've narrowed down the field, perhaps try renting a couple of the lenses for a week or two, rather than rushing out to buy one, then figure out which one(s) you like best.

EDIT: To come at this from a different angle: the 135 film you are wanting to capture is nominally an aspect ratio of 3:2, and 36mm x 24mm. You want to capture that full image on a sensor that has a 4:3 aspect ratio and a nominal 17.3mm x 13mm size. Given the mismatch in aspect ratio, the important measures are the 36mm and 17.3mm ones. This gives a needed magnification of around 0.48x. That is far lower than the 4-4.5x magnification of this lens. That would suggest that you're not looking at the right type of lens here.

  • So the B&H product description includes the sentence: ` the lens does not offer infinity focus.`
    – WillD
    Apr 15, 2020 at 15:42
  • 1
    Based on one of the reviews on the Adorama site suggests you can't even get a single die within the frame.
    – Eric S
    Apr 15, 2020 at 16:48
  • Ostensibly, the question is about whether the lens is suitable for digitizing 35mm negatives. The "edit" seems more relevant than the discussion of "maximum working distance". (The two sections should be flipped with the part following "I know nothing about that specific lens..." cut.)
    – xiota
    Apr 15, 2020 at 20:25

If you take picture of negatives, you want something like this, and these often include a (removable) close-up lens, so this would work with about any regular lens. Of course if you use a prime lens you don't have much control on the framing but the added stability is worth the loss of pixels.

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