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Close-Up Lenses

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9a)

I'm fairly new to DSLRs and I just purchased a 55-250mm zoom lens for my Canon Rebel XSi. While reading through the product manual (I know, I can't believe anyone reads these manuals either) I came across a short blurb that said I could attach a close-up lens to my zoom lens that would allow me to photograph close-up objects.

I have several questions about this:
1. Do the close-up lenses really work? They don't look much different than the filters you attach to a lens and I don't understand how a simple looking piece of glass can change a zoom lens to a macro lens.
2. How exactly does it work, anyway?
3. For about $75 on Amazon, the close-up lens seems more economical than a new macro lens, but will a macro lens provide better performance per dollar in the long run?

Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)


Close-up lenses really do work. You are right, they simply screw into the filter threads of your existing lens, much like a filter. A macro lens can provide higher quality close-ups, but for a lot of applications, a simple screw-on close-up lens is good enough. Incidentally, $75 seems rather high for a simple close-up lens, unless it is a multi-element achromatic close-up. What diameter are the screw threads on your Canon lens?


Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

It's a trade off. While close up filters do indeed work and are cost effective it seems like it would be a pain every time you wanted to do close up work to screw on filters and unscrew them to do "normal" photography. A macro lens is a simple mount and you can go from close up work to normal work with no extra prep work in between.

Here is an article that might help make up your mind.

Celaya, Mexico(Zone 10a)

Macro lenses are the top of the line in regards to macro photography with best image quality and versatility at a high initial cost
Single lens filter type screw on macro attachments are at the bottom of the barrel in regards to image quality and versatility but are low cost
Multi lens filter type macro attachments like canon 250D or 500D have a better image quality than the single lens type but it won't be macro lens quality.
Another option is the use of extension tubes with which you maintain the image quality of the lens you use them on while increasing the magnification of the lens.

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9a)

Thanks for the replies. The attachment I referenced earlier that was $75 was the 250D or 500D. Although I checked again today and they are $85 now.

I'll have to check out the extension tubes.

Edinburg, TX

I have a Canon XSI and found a simple inexpensive reverse macro adapter ring works well too. I got mine for $4.95 on ebay. I also purchased extension tubes but still prefer using the reverse macro adapter ring. Also purchased a bellows...but haven't even come close to being comfortable using that.

I tend to take lots of photos all the while swapping between macro mode, using a close up 10x lens, using extension tubes and using the reverse macro adapter ring. You have to be adding the 10x lens or extension tubes as well as invert the main lens when using the adapter ring so if you're trying to take a photo of something moving you're not going to have lots of time.

I photograph butterfly and moth eggs, caterpillars, chrysalids etc. to document their life cycle.

Am still practicing on the depth of field with the reverse macro adapter ring - the edges tend to be out of focus...but it sure does a good job for $4.95!

Here's a Golden Headed Scallopwing Skipper egg taken with the reverse macro adapter ring. I resized it to post here but you can crop any original high resolution photo to get a closer look. The butterfly egg is about the size of a dot on the letter i.

~ Cat

ps...if you browse the post on this link - I have other photos on there as well as initially carried on a discussion with a fellow DG'er on what to buy to take macro photos.

This message was edited May 16, 2010 6:09 PM

Thumbnail by TexasPuddyPrint
Grenada, MS(Zone 8a)

A good set of extension tubes are well worth the money. Especially compared to the cost of a "true macro" lens. The close-up lens work but you have to remeber this..... they are extra glass that is added to your lens..which means less clarity, less light transmission, etc., get the idea..
Study up on the extension tubes and how they work and I think you will be well pleased with them.
Be sure to post some pics from whatever set-up you choose. ;^)

Edinburg, TX

DWMike - I find the reverse macro adapter ring gives me a closer image than the extension tubes. Just how many extension tubes can be stacked? I use three for now.

~ cat

Grenada, MS(Zone 8a)

Quote from TexasPuddyPrint :
DWMike - I find the reverse macro adapter ring gives me a closer image than the extension tubes. Just how many extension tubes can be stacked? I use three for now.

~ cat

Hi TPP.....I know that you can stack up to 4 ext. tubes, don't know beyond that. As for the reverse macro adapter ring..well.... I don't have any experience with it so I cannot give any info on that set-up either way. Have a great day!

If you like macro photography, you should check ou this guys stuff..very impressive!!

This message was edited May 28, 2010 8:41 AM

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Back in college we used a Polaroid Land Camera with a bellows extension all mounted on an enlarger stand so we could rack down to very close distances. We could tell the time on the wrist watch of the guy driving the car in front of the treasury on the back of a $10 dollar bill. (Just kidding on telling the time but you could see the guy in the car with his hands on the steering wheel).

Is it time to check out a microscope attachment?

Edinburg, TX

I purchased a bellows but can't seem to get the grasp of how to use it. No instructions came with it. Ah, the perils of purchasing from China!

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Attach your bellows between the camera and lens. You then adjust your bellows until you get the focus you want - best used on a tripod or some other stationary support. Does the bellows you have offer auto focus and (or) aperture?

Edinburg, TX

I didn't see anything showing auto focus or aperature. It has a rail type base that sits flat on a table or such and you turn a knob to move the lens back and forth. When I am able to get something in focus it does take a nice photo but I really need to prowl the internet for instructions and practice :o)

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

The knob is for fine focusing. You can move the camera or subject to get crude focusing to begin with. The bellows is like extension tubes but with infinite control between a minimum distance to the maximum racked out distance (instead of stacking tubes).

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