A layman’s luide to close-up lenses: common questions and answers

A Layman's Guide to Close-up Lenses

What are close-up lenses? In our latest Layman’s Guide we answer the common questions about these budget alternatives to macro lenses and show the effects they can produce.

A Layman's Guide to Close-up Lenses

What are close-up lenses?
A relatively cheap alternative to proper macro lenses, close-up lenses mount onto the front of a regular lens. They shorten the effective focus distance and give a magnifying effect.

How do they work?
Close-up lenses are often supplied in kits with, for example, +1, +2 and +4 dioptre lenses. The higher the dioptre value of a lens, the greater the resulting magnifying effect will be. It’s like putting varying strengths of reading glasses in front of your camera’s lens.

What are close-up lenses?

Without a close-up lens, the minimum focus distance won’t usually enable you to fill the frame with small objects.

Who makes them?
Popular makes include Cokin, Hoya, Kood, SRB Griturn and Tiffen. Prices range from around £20 for individual lenses and inexpensive kits of lenses, up to about £100 for top-quality kits. Reasonably inexpensive yet high-magnification +10 dioptre lenses are available from Hoya and SRB Griturn.

When should I use them?
They’re useful when you want to take close-up shots of objects, so you can fill most of the frame with something that’s quite small. However, only close-range focusing will be available.

When should I use close-up lenses?

Giving greater magnifying power, either stacked or used individually, close-up lenses offer a macro-like view.

How do I attach them to my DSLR?
The Cokin close-up lens is square and fits into a holder. Most other close-up lenses are circular and screw into the attachment thread of the host lens, like regular screw-in filters. You can stack them for greater magnification, but image quality may suffer.


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