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Thread: Macro lenses and close up filters

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    Macro lenses and close up filters

    Just wondering if anyone has used close up filters in combination with a dedicated macro lens.
    Yes I understand there will be some reduction in image quality, but I am thinking it would be a easy way of obtaining greater than 1:1 without using extension tubes (which I don't really like!), plus the lens is extremely sharp to start with.

    Current lens is a Vivitar series 1 105mm macro, and thinking about getting a set of Hoya filters (+1,+2,+4)

    Any information appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Amor fati!
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    my understanding is that while its possible to get good images with these filters (and they have to be good ones ,not cheapies) there is image degradation involved. extension/bellows is the way to go. have you considered bellows?

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    Bellows fall into the same category as extension tubes for me (probably worse due to bulk)
    They are o.k. if using a tripod, but I shoot macro hand held 99% of the time, which kind of rules them out.

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    Also now thinking about one of the Raynox DCR-150 sets - They are supposed to be quite good as far as optical quality.

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    i have heard that too... go google some review.

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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser OzzieTraveller's Avatar
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    G'day mattC

    I use close up lenses regularly - so I may be able to help a bit ...

    I use both +2 & +3 lenses at different times on different cameras/ different lenses
    Whether it's the Panasonic's 35-400 lens or the slr's 70-300 lens, I want to get closeups closer than the 'normal' minimum focus distance of 1.2metres
    So I use the +2 or the +3 to get a camera-to-subject distance of 1/2 a metre or 1/3 a metre depending on the close-up lens I select. Putting a +2 [for example] onto a 70-300 is quite extraordinary and I recommend it ... but only with a good quality lens
    Some time ago I experimented with a +10 "Macro" close up lens and it was a disaster

    You are asking about using one or more onto a dedicated macro lens ... possibly via a 'kit' of +1, +2 & +4 ... ie +1 & +2 = +3 then +4 = +7 sort of thing

    I would not recommend it

    If you buy via ebay or similar a "$25" set of lenses, [again from experience] the lens quality is very poor ... poor sharpness, poor colour IQ, etc etc
    If you want a 'half-decent' close up lens, make it a 2-element apochromatic type ... but they are $150+
    So tubes are looking better & better

    From my perspective [with macro work] the most vital, but overlooked part] of your close up kit is a focussing rail for moving the tripod-mounted camera + lens combo that couple of cms in or out as part of the setting up phase

    Hope this helps a bit
    Regards, phil
    Of all the stuff in a busy photographers kitbag, the ability to see photographically is the most important
    google me at Travelling School of Photography
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    Ausphotography Veteran Speedway's Avatar
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    Which tubes have you tried and what problems do you have using them? Apart from a few setup indoor shots all my macro shots are handheld. For my first attempts I tried filters on my nifty 50 and the results were reasonable but they would only fit that one lens, I also tried a reversing ring (also the same problem of thread size) with mixed results. I then got a cheap $15 set of tubes with no electrical connection, I was not happy with these as you had no control over the DOF and had to shoot wide open all the time. I finally bit the bullet and got a set of tubes with the electrical connectors to the lens, these made a huge difference and I started to really enjoy macro work (I don't do enough of it though), I now use these most of the time on my 90mm Tamron and don't have a problem using them handheld.
    Keith.

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    Thanks for the information Phil - good to get some first hand accounts.
    Keith - I use a cheap set of ebay tubes - they do the job, but they are a pain in the posterior, as they are fully manual, and when stopped down to f19, there ain't much light in the viewfinder!.
    Unfortunately Pentax in their wisdom do not make any electrical contact tubes, and as I understand Kenko no longer make them in a K mount (there are some that pop up for sale occasionally though).
    As far as I am aware, there is only one place that you can buy these new - from some where in Poland I think.
    I think I will just stick with reversing one of my 50mm lenses on the end of my 100mm macro - this seems to produce fairly good results.
    If I could get a MPE-65 in a K mount, I would be a happy camper!

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    i'd love nikon to make a mpe too

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    The advantage of using macro filters is that you don't lose light the way to do with extension tubes, or bellows units. Certain Macro lenses also lose light as the focus gets closer and closer, Internal focusing macro lenses tend to lose much less light than non internal focusing lens designs. Also one has to take into account if the lens is apochromatic or not, lenses below 100mm tend not to be "apo" because of lens design and cost constraints*. Apochromatic lenses IMO are absolutely essential for macro work because DOF can become so microscopically thin that any aberrations in the OOF areas are going to be equally magnified, some subjects can actually make a non APO lens appear to be much worse than it is. It is also important to note longer macro lenses also provide greater working distance than shorter ones.

    The lens reversal technique is a versatile, but cumbersome method for extremely high magnification macro work. also it might be helpful not to limit yourself to 35mm lenses, I have had success using medium and large format lenses reversed onto 35mm macro lenses.

    *though certain lens manufacturers who will not be named have played fast and casual with their use of the optical term apochromatic. AFAIK the Raynox close up filters are apochromatic, though the lens you attach them to plays an important role on the final image.
    Last edited by Othrelos; 24-11-2010 at 5:11pm.

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    G'day othrelos

    Not meaning to pick on you at all here - your info is 'good' although may I offer you a response to one aspect of your post above

    A "filter" is [mostly] a flat piece of glass, usually coloured, but being flat will NOT create an image
    A "lens" is [usually] glass though it may be another element, it is curved AND will create an image

    Thus we can have "close-up lenses" we do not have "close up filters"

    There are many people [and shop staff] who see the close-up lens screwing into the "lens-accessory-thread" on the front of the lens, that thread usually used for filters, and who then call the close-up lens a "close up filter" ... ie: incorrect

    Equally, I have seen the plastic boxes that filters come in, when they contain a closeup lens, the cover still says eg: 'maker-name' filters, but the box contains a lens. It does not help we users when the maker is too lazy to use correct labelling

    Hope this helps
    Regards, Phil

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    Quote Originally Posted by OzzieTraveller View Post
    A "filter" is [mostly] a flat piece of glass, usually coloured, but being flat will NOT create an image
    A "lens" is [usually] glass though it may be another element, it is curved AND will create an image
    I don't disagree with your definition of what is a filter and what is a lens. Though I believe your definition could use some refinement. For argument's sake, a close up lens while capable of forming a coherent image cannot be used for photography on it's own without being attached to the filter thread of a lens. The close up lens has the effect of increasing the minimum focusing distance of the lens it is attached to, so technically it is an auxiliary lens. I agree it isn't a filter, I was merely using the layman term "filter" for clarity.

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    G'day Othrelos

    Nice to hear from you on this topic. You may wish to experiment and prove/disprove your thoughts

    For reference - a close up lens's focal length = 1/n metres, where n = the dioptres of the lens. ie +4 dioptres = = 1/4 metre focal length [25cms]

    Select your +4 lens for this experiment ...
    > Pop down to your local $2-shop, get a cardboard box whose dimensions are about 25cms across;
    > Cut a round hole about the diameter of the close up lens and sticky-tape it to the outside of the box;
    > On the opposite side of the box, cut an opening, maybe 100mm square and tape some greasproof paper to the sides of the box
    > Close lid of box to keep the dark from escaping
    > Take box to loungeroom window and point lens 'outside' to the sunshine and look at image on the 'inside'

    over to you ...
    Regards, Phil

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    Quote Originally Posted by OzzieTraveller View Post
    Select your +4 lens for this experiment ...
    > Pop down to your local $2-shop, get a cardboard box whose dimensions are about 25cms across;
    > Cut a round hole about the diameter of the close up lens and sticky-tape it to the outside of the box;
    > On the opposite side of the box, cut an opening, maybe 100mm square and tape some greasproof paper to the sides of the box
    > Close lid of box to keep the dark from escaping
    > Take box to loungeroom window and point lens 'outside' to the sunshine and look at image on the 'inside'
    As I said, close up auxiliary lenses are useless on their own for everyday photography, though I'm sure you're little experiment is going to provide plenty of amusement to others.

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    Using Macro Lens with close up filters...

    I use a canon 100mm F2.8 Macro lens with a Canon 500D Close up lens and get a little more than 1:2...I haven't actually worked it out but I don't get any lost of F-stop with that combo. I do have a friend who used the 500D with his Nikon with an adapter ring and gets excellent results without vignetting. I do have bellows as well that seem to work like rings and I do lose some light with them.

    I've attached a couple of examples from this combo

    Photo 1 - Allicium Flowers...small, about 30mm across, growing amonst the tomatoes so gives a lovely background. I used a 64LED movie light for this.. 0.3 second exposure at F11. Taken with Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro Lens with 500D Close Up lens on the front.

    Photo 2 - Tomato taken Taken with Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro Lens with 500D Close Up lens on the front. F32 @ 30 second exposure...natural light.

    Photo 3 - Cropped from the first photo to show the clarity
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Doninoz; 30-04-2011 at 6:08pm. Reason: added photos and description

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Phil and Othrelos. I like your rallies. I'd like to all meet and have such a discussion.
    Dominoz. You get nearly 1:2 [reproduction]? What is your CU lens? A plus what? You would have to be at already significant closest focus with that macro lens.
    You will not lose much light with that combination as it "merely" lets you get closer to the subject with little change in magnification.
    Bellows are rather like adjustable "adapter rings", or extension tubes. Yes, there is light loss with them, and there are formulas for working out effective apertures.

    And at last: nice shots you have posted.
    Am.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    Phil and Othrelos. I like your rallies. I'd like to all meet and have such a discussion.
    Dominoz. You get nearly 1:2 [reproduction]? What is your CU lens? A plus what? You would have to be at already significant closest focus with that macro lens.
    You will not lose much light with that combination as it "merely" lets you get closer to the subject with little change in magnification.
    Bellows are rather like adjustable "adapter rings", or extension tubes. Yes, there is light loss with them, and there are formulas for working out effective apertures.

    And at last: nice shots you have posted.
    Am.

    Hi Am...

    The Close Up (Canon 500D) is a +2. I'm using a Canon 5D Mk II (21.1 megapixel 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor...Sensor size of 24 x 36mm with a pixel pitch of 6.4µm square.

    Given that the 100mm Macro is 1:1...add the +2 on a full frame sensor I must have a 2:1 magnification. Am I correct (Maths wasn't my strong point at school).

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doninoz View Post
    Hi Am...

    The Close Up (Canon 500D) is a +2. I'm using a Canon 5D Mk II (21.1 megapixel 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor...Sensor size of 24 x 36mm with a pixel pitch of 6.4µm square.

    Given that the 100mm Macro is 1:1...add the +2 on a full frame sensor I must have a 2:1 magnification. Am I correct (Maths wasn't my strong point at school).
    Doninoz (sorry - misread last time).
    Not quite like that. The +2 means "positive 2 dioptre refractivity". That means it has a focal length of 1/2 (metres) or f=500mm. Put over any lens that has been set to "infinity", that lens combination would then have a 500mm farthest focusing range. To see what your lens combination is capable of closest up, focus the macro lens at its nearest point (with the +2 on it, of course). Use your terrific Live View (which shows the full frame) to image some convenient scale - like a ruler. What can you read across the display? Let's say you can see a full 50mm, or 5 cm.

    Your frame is 36mm across, and so what you WOULD BE SEEING is a 36/50 reproduction. That would be a 72% reproduction - not a 1:1, but about 1.39:1.

    If you stack (good quality) close up lenses, say +2 and a +1, you get a +3 combination.

    Hope this helps, otherwise you will need a mud filter to clear it up.
    Am.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 01-05-2011 at 10:05am.

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    thanks this has helped me too!

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    I just did a test and I am seeing nearly 25mm of the ruler (as shown below). So that would be 25/50 reproduction. That would be 50% reproduction - 1.5:1...am I correct?
    Attached Images Attached Images
    DON - Teachable, always learning, always experimenting, just want to know everything I can about photography!

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