Playing with close-up lenses

I’ve always wanted to have a go at close-up photography, but never quite summoned up enough enthusiasm to shell out for a decent macro lens. Last week I came across a set of close up lenses on Amazon, for the bargain price of £8. Yes, £8. Clearly they aren’t going to be the highest quality, but for £8 I thought it was worth the risk. They might just be good enough to get me hooked, and enthusiastic enough to buy some proper kit! This set has 4 lenses of varying strengths that can be used individually or combined. They screw onto the filter thread of your lens, so you have to buy a matching size, and you need multiple sets if you want to use them with different sized lenses. Anyway, enough of that – here are some images to show how well they work. I’m using them with my 18-55mm kit lens set to 50mm, and I have a £1 coin as my subject.

First a shot with the bare lens at its closest focusing distance

Next with the +1 dioptre close-up lens

Next with the +2 dioptre close-up lens

Then the +4 dioptre lens

Next the strongest +10 dioptre lens

Finally I stacked them all together to get +17 dioptres!

These are all full-frame images – no cropping has been done, and no post-processing. These are the jpegs straight from the camera. Click on the images to see them in their full 12MP goodness. The camera was on a tripod and the images were auto-focused. That final one is certainly a little softer than the others. Stacking all 4 lenses definitely loses some definition. Not sure I’d ever want to do that with a real image!

Using a coin as the subject doesn’t give much of an impression of the amount of depth of field available, which is not much at all. You’ll want to use the smallest aperture you can get away with – these were all shot at f11. This means you’ll need lots of light, too. When I get the chance I’ll take some more real-life photos and see how they perform. Maybe I’ll find some friendly bees in the garden?

So far, though, I’m quite pleased with my £8 purchase. The set of lenses is small enough to keep in the camera bag just in case, and the quality seems OK so far. At least so long as you only use them one at a time.

 

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  1. [...] little while ago I wrote about using close-up lenses as a possible cheap alternative to a macro lens. I was quite pleased with the results, but decided [...]

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