Pictured here is the Raynox DCR-150 macro close-up lens that snaps right on to the front of any SLR camera lens.

That's right! No more daydreaming about an expensive, dedicated macro lens. All you need is this handy little conversion lens, and you are good to go.

This is how it works: The lens drops into the collar, or adapter, and screws in. This results in the lens and the adapter becoming one unit. The two sides are pinched towards each other to allow spring tension to hold the unit onto the front of any SLR lens for either digital or traditional film photography.

Here comes the tricky part: The front of your lens must be 52-67mm in diameter for this conversion lens to snap on. This is easily resolved with a step-up ring. A step-up ring is a small plastic ring that simply screws into the front of your regular lens to make it wide enough to allow the Raynox macro lens unit to fit. These are easy enough to find on-line. My step-up ring measures 49–52mm; the 49mm end threads directly into the front of my F70–210 lens. The 52mm end makes my lens wide enough to accommodate the Raynox; such rings can be "Google searched" and only cost a few bucks.

For those without DSLR cameras, Raynox offers its own step-up rings that allow for the DCR-150 to fit onto certain point-and-shoot camera models. (The linked chart offers product numbers for those rings.)

Let's get to the good part and look at a few pictures taken with this macro unit attached to the front of my 70–210mm zoom lens:

Tiny brown leaf hopper with red stripes on a blade of grassLuminous eyes of a praying mantis's upturned face

The tiny leafhopper would ordinarily never be noticed with the naked eye; or at most, he might be mistaken for a bit of chaff or grass seed. That picture was snapped in late spring when he was no larger than 5 millimeters in length. Yet look at the colors! Mother Nature surely dressed him up nicely, but how would we ever know without a macro attachment?

The mantises, who always cut their eyes at me like stern schoolmasters, are tubs of fun with macro. Watch out, or you might find one in your hair or on your face. I hear they will bite, so try to keep a safe distance while still shooting macro.

Speaking of faces, the beauty of a macro lens adapter is that it allows you to look into the face of nature's creatures.

The yellow face of a short-horned grasshopper peeking over a green leafLarge green beetle with a gentle, deer-like metallic green face

As you can imagine, attaching this close-up conversion lens enables a different magnification ratio than that of a compact or a DSLR camera set on macro mode. It is especially nice on a long zoom lens or attached to a 75mm lens (at minimum) as recommended by the manufacturer for digital SLR shooting. For film SLR cameras, 35mm is sufficiently long enough for effective macro work, and long lenses are even better.

Flash photography can be used with this lens. It takes some experimenting with raising and lowering your ISO and aperture along with raising and lowering the output of your pop-up flash if need be. It takes work, but it is entirely possible to get sharp, detailed nature images without needing a tripod or bellows. In other words, you can hand-hold your camera and still get great shots using this snap-on macro lens.

Reddish-brown paper wasp with yellow legs on a piece of woodClose-up of the yellow eye of a violet-colored Fleabane daisy

One fantastic place to see more image samples of what the Raynox 150 can do is on the Pentax Forum's Raynox Club. For those who want to experiment with getting closer than the examples provided here, Raynox makes the DCR-250 macro conversion lens.

I hope I have inspired you to find out just what you can do with either your DSLR, SLR, point-and-shoot camera, or even with a video camera. There are many alternatives for nature enthusiasts without the expense of a dedicated macro lens because there is something for everyone these days in the world of macro photography.

More links:

Photography Mad's magnification ratio explained in an easy way, with diagrams

Bug Guide: www.bugguide.net

A Digital Photography School article about macro flower images