Enhancing My Photography Gear


After reading and viewing several close-up and macro photographs, I have been captured by its beauty.  Those inner worlds, invisible to the naked eye, are a magnet to me.  Since I have a limited budget, I couldn’t buy expensive and powerful macro lenses.  Instead I opted to buy a modest wide-angle/macro lens and a set of four close-up macro filters.  I know they will not offer the best pictures, but at least it will be a step higher than my present shots.  There are plans to acquire a Canon mirrorless camera (Fujifilm X-30) which I expect will result in higher quality macro shots.  For the time being, I’ll experiment with this modest gear which I recently purchased at Amazon.com.

Yesterday I unpacked a set of four Vivitar close-up filters which had a cost of $26.99.  This is negligible compared with the price of a true macro lens such as Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro USM lens ($469.00) or the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro USM lens ($599.00)—the L class lens escalates to $1,049.00.  Those are prices I can not afford.   But that’s okay, I’m not a professional photographer and don’t need super high-quality photographs.  My main interest is to take modest shots to complement my blog posts online.

Having said all the above, the next step is to answer the question, what are close-up lenses?

Despite the name, a close-up lens doesn’t look much like a lens—it looks more like a filter and the circular version screws into the thread on your camera lens just like any other filter.

Snapshot of a set of four close-up Vivitar macro filters purchased for my DSLR Canon EOS Rebel T2i camera. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

For this reason, close-up lenses are also called close-up filters or supplementary filters.

A close-up lens is really just a high quality magnifying glass that fits on the front of your camera’s lens.  It works by reducing the minimum focusing distance of the lens it is attached to.  This lets you move closer to the subject for greater magnification.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

The strength of close-up lenses is measured in diopter.  The higher the number, the greater the magnification.  Most close-up lenses come in strengths of +1, +2, +3 and +4 diopter.  The more powerful close-up lenses can go as high as +10 diopter.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

The more powerful close-up lenses can get you really close to the subject, but at the cost of a degradation in image quality.  You can also combine two-close-up lenses to increase the magnification.

Snapshot of the wallet or pouch that protect the four Vivitar close-up filters purchased from Amazon.com. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

The single-element close-up lenses are the most common type of close-up lens.  It’s ideal if you’re on a budget or just want to try out some close-up or macro photography without spending too much money.

The drawback though is image quality—single element lenses suffer from poor edge sharpness and chromatic aberrations.  You shouldn’t expect to get the same quality from the combination of your lens and a close-up lens that you would by using extensions tubes or a macro lens.

Snapshot of four close-up filters inside a lens wallet. No problem in taking them out to the field if you need to take close-up shots. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

This means that single-element close-up lenses are more of a “fun” item than anything else.  They let you play around with a close-up or macro photography without having to break the bank.  This is exactly my situation at this moment.  Can’t wait to take my first shots later in the day, or maybe during the upcoming weekend.  Good Day.

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