Close Ups’’ – An Interesting Area for Some

Close ups, or “macro” work, has always been an fascinating area for me.  When I jumped back into the digital space from 35mm, my interest there piqued even more.  With today’s technology, literally any camera has this close up capability and with it comes a rather neat area of photography, if you’ve never tried it.  Simple things around the house suddenly become their own little world.

When I got to the DSLR space, this was one area that I started to work in right away.  Actually, quite a bit before that.  I got the hair brained idea one day to try to build my own version of a light box to take photographs of my pockets knives and as I move up thru the ranks of gear, my interest simply got bigger here.  Not too long ago, I acquired a Micro Nikkor 40mm f2.8 lens for my Nikon D3200 and D5100 (the D5100 is a very recent acquisition – more on that later…) and that expanded my world again.  I then got thinking even more about being a little more versatile and decided to acquire the Polaroid Close Up Filter kit. 

So why a filter kit and not another lens?  Well – it broke down to expense vs use.  I was looking at something like the 85mm or 105 mm lenses or even a macro zoom, but at this stage of game, simply too prohibitive from the cost side – I’m looking at somewhere in the $600+ range.  $20 from Amazon was worth a try 🙂

What I was looking for actually, was the ability to some close up work from a little farther away and wanting to use my existing lenses.  The close up lenses were an option.  The other one was tubes.  For me, the lenses were the best option.  I may look at tubes later in the game, but for now, well… we’ll wait.  I’m gong to show a few pics in this one (FINALLY –  few photos from me :-)) and there may be quite a few actually, but we’ll see as we move along here.

I hadn’t really thought about the close up lenses in reality.  I bumped into them reading an article on close work.  At the time, my mind was sitting around how I was going to set up a new bag, the Caden K1 Triangle Sling, to accommodate my gear.  As easy as it sounds, it’s tougher than it sounds, ‘cause I don’t know what I want to pack in it :-)  My initial thought was to see if it would be large enough to handle 2 DSLR’s but then I would lose space for other stuff but then if I took one plus extra lenses…. you know the drill…..  Of course, the other side of this, is that for this guy, one camera will likely be the case plus travel cams or something like that. 

Back to close up stuff or the general direction.  One of the things I hear a lot about, and this does surprise me to a certain degree, is “there’s nothing to take pictures of” and part and parcel to that is the fact people don’t want to go out of their way to go somewhere where pictures can be taken :-)  To me, these people are the ones that do take their cameras to social things, and their world simply stops there.  No urge to learn, whatever. Fine – they don’t want to learn, so be it.  For me, I simply don’t get out near as much as I should, and so I go “hunting”.  Maybe they don’t play with the settings to see what happens, I don’t know….  For me, I try to use as many settings as possible under as many conditions as possible just to figure out what I can and can’t do with a given camera and with the bigger stuff, the lenses. 

Anyway – in just doing a few test shots, here’s what I’ve found out so far.  From a sharp perspective – they aren’t all that bad. For what I’m going to be doing with them – very usable.  Will they replace my 40mm macro or a fixed macro lens?  No.  One of the things I tried was to stick something like the +4 one on my 55-200.  It was neat enough, and a I got some good working distance, but it became very quickly apparent that I needed a tripod :-)  OR more coffee – it was early morning – golden hour :-)  On the 18-55mm it was a lot better, but I didn’t gain the distance I thought I would.  I tried the lenses using both the D3200 and D5100 – both of them had trouble with autofocus at times.  It was actually easier to move the camera to frame up, then press the shutter half way and then the autofocus kicked in and worked.  Here are a few I took using the various lenses.

This was using the +10

Plus 10

Here’s one with +2

Plus 2

Nothing too structured here for a formal test.  I’ll do that later.  These were done with my 55-200 on my Nikon D5100.

And then, there’s depth of field!  It’s VERY narrow if you don’t have your aperture set.  Here’s how little DOF you have on one test shot I took.


From the testing standpoint – lots of testing to see how they work the best.

Here are a couple more:-)

hailed_lily Luke

From what I’ve seen so with these close up lenses, they are pretty neat.  Will I use them a lot for close up work? You know, that’s actually a good question.  I wasn’t overly fussy about the +10 one – I was hoping it would be sharper as it dropped off on the edges a bit more than I liked but then again, it wasn’t that bad either.  I’ll probably drop the bucks on the Nikon 2 element one even though it’s a bit of money.  I think the higher resolution capability will be a “nice to have”, as I am in this space a lot.  One thing I also tried was using the 55-200mm and depending on the zoom length, it actually worked pretty good.  Of course, hand holding at the 200mm end was a bit dicey, but it actually didn’t work that bad.  The main thing here, is that I have options depending on the situation.  My feeling is that the 40mm f2.8 is still better for flowers, but it involves a lens swap too.  As I rove out more and more, the plan is to have two cameras with 2 zooms on them.  Mind you, the macro modes on the travel cams aren’t shabby either.


About gkamitomo
IT Busines Analyst

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