5 Tips About Close-Up Lenses You Need To Know

Do you wish to take close-up photos of subjects like insects, flowers or everyday objects? It’s certainly an interesting area of photography which has always intrigued me.

For close-up photography, it is common to use a macro lens. Macros lenses allow you to achieve 1:1 reproduction of your subjects. You can go up really close to the subject and get really impressive photos.

The downside? Well, macro lenses can be prohibitively expensive.

A macro lens sells for several hundred dollars and not everyone has the budget for these lens when trying to learn about close-up photography. The answer is to get a close-up lens.

A Nikon AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 40mm Close-Up Lens

A close-up lens is not really a lens in the normal sense of the word. They are usually sold as filters which screw onto the front of your lens. They are much cheaper than full macro lenses but yet allow you to bring down the minimum focusing distance of your lens.

Let’s take a closer look and understand 5 tips about close-up lenses you need to know as a digital photographer.

1. Types of Close-Up Lenses

There are two types of close-up lenses – single and double.

Single close-up lenses have only one element of optics built in. They are cheaper, but tend to have aberrations when you widen your camera’s aperture (i.e. reduce its depth of field).

Double close-up lenses have two optical elements – these help to reduce chromatic aberrations but will close you more.

I’ll give you an example of my experience with close-up lenses. When I first started out, I went to buy a single close-up lens (cost me a few hundred bucks). I found that after shooting photos of flowers, my pictures had aberrations which really affected my experience.

My advice is to go for a double close-up lens if you can afford it, especially if you foresee yourself taking a lot of macro shots. It costs a bit more, but will allow you more flexibility in achieving that “background blurring” effect so common in close-up shots.

2. How Close-Up Lenses Work

Close-Up lenses work by reducing the minimum focusing distance of your lens.

They are considered an “add-on” to your basic lens, so think of it as an extra pair of glasses. Also, close-up lenses have settings of +1, +2, +4 and so forth – allowing you to add up to the required powers you need.

It’s very much like making a pair of reading glasses. If you screw on an extra lens, you can increased focal power. Close-up lenses are good if combined with a short telephoto lens – this allows you to get in close to the subject and yet have the ability to zoom if you don’t want to get TOO close.

I always pack my close-up lenses in my camera bag in case I see a close-up shot I need to take.

3. Types of Subjects

Once you have your close-up lenses, you have a world of macro photography subjects you can explore!

One of my favorite subjects in close-up photography are flowers. Flowers have such vibrant colors and you can spend your time going up close to snap pictures, without worrying that they’ll move out of position.

Another favorite subject I have are common, everyday objects. For example, you can take a ruler or a computer keyboard and go really close. The unique perspectives you get from such subjects make for very interesting pictures.

Finally, a great subject for close-up photography is an insect. Ladybirds, butterflies (if you can catch them) and bees make for solid photos and have been a staple in my albums.

4. What Close-Up Lenses To Buy

If you want to buy close-up lenses, I can think of two sources.

One is to go straight to the manufacturer. If you own a Canon or Nikon camera, they both some great close-up lenses. The advantage here is that you can be sure your purchases will fit your camera properly.

The second approach is to buy from a third-party. Raynox makes excellent close-up lenses which are very popular with close-up photography enthusiasts. Make sure you bring you camera to the store to try it out before you buy.

5. Macro Mode

Some friends ask me, “Why do I need a close-up lens if my digital camera has a close-up mode”?

Well, many modern cameras have a “macro mode” built into them and they essentially play the role of a macro lens. However, to have fine control – you definitely need a macro lens or close-up filter.

The macro mode in cameras is still an automatic focus mode – which will be an issue if you are looking to really customize the settings in your shots.

Wrapping Up …

I hope the above has helped you understand more about close-up lenses and what you need to optimize your photography experience.

Besides getting a good lenses, it’ll also help for you to read up on the subject of macro photography to help you delve deeper into advanced topics.

Until next time, here’s wishing you a good time in taking close-up photos!

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