Macro artistic photography of the human Iris eye

I am starting to get involved with artistic photography of the human Iris eye. I have concerns about the correct equipment (lens/camera). Knowing that depht of field is a major obstacle I need to know if I am better of with a Full frame camera or a crop sensor APS-C camera. How important is the amount of Mega Pixels? For example what combination will be more appropriate?

  • Nikon D800 with a nikon macro 200mm or a Nikon Z7 with a Z macro lens 105mm?

I bet some gearheads are on this forum and will be able to answer your question – I’m not enough of one – but if I were you, I’d take it to a more artistic-photography oriented group. Maybe flickr?


Unless you’re doing extreme pixel-peeking, or printing billboard sized images megapixel count is not really relevant anymore. Sensor size is important is a slightly larger distance between sensor elements results in a better image, but again, that’s only really for people delving into the extreme limits.

The bigger issue you’re going to have is the comfort of the subject and both camera proximity and light affect that.

Eyes saccade (quick small involuntary movements of the eyes) even when someone is trying to keep their gaze steady, so you need a relatively fast shutter speed. This means either lots of light, which is uncomfortable for the subject, or a wide open lens, which means a more shallow depths of field.

The 200mm lens lets you keep a greater distance with the same coverage area than the 105mm lens. This allows for both more comfort on the part of your subject as well as a slightly deeper depths of field for the same f-stop.

Regarding the camera, no real difference, both take excellent quality photos.

Personally, I’d go with the 200mm lens and offset lighting with the lens open pretty wide to allow for a fast shutter speed.

Realistically, you’re going to have to experiment to see what works best for both you and your subject.

I agree with all you said regarding the comfort , camera proximity and light. The nikon macro 200mm is what I have been thinking of for the reasons you mentioned, besides I read it’s the best macro lens Nikon ever put out. I will be using strobe light on a 45 degrees angle and all reflections will be edited on PS. Just not sure about the camera body, I hear that APS C will get me better DOP . Nikon only has the D 7200 with not a lot of MP. You mention sensor size is important, is there any camera you would recommend? What do you think of the Fuji fim XH2 with it’s macro 80mm ?

I wouldn’t change from the camera you already have access to. Personally I feel like I get better photos out of a full-frame than an APS-C.

Regarding light, for eyes it’s often better to use continuous lighting rather than a flash as a flash, even offset, is uncomfortable for the subject. If you do use a flash, make sure it’s at the lowest setting.

There are a ton of videos and articles specifically about taking photos of people’s irises. Search out those and watch/read some of them.

Thank you so much for your input Earthknight. I will start searching for these tutorial videos on iris photography. They will definitely help somehow…

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