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I tend to be a one lens traveler. My camera and lens are heavy enough so I usually leave the house with just one lens and one body, unless I have an assignment that calls for more. And yet, I’ve been enjoying close-up photography more and more. You know; bees on flowers, barnacles on rocks, bugs of all kinds. My 28-300mm Canon lens can only get so close, so I started casting about for a reasonable solution.
Enter the Canon 500D (no, not the camera 500D) Close-Up Lens. (Note: Nikon has a number of close-up lenses as well with different diopter sizes. This post is meant to cover the general idea, so the concepts will work with both manufacturers.)
This lens fits on the end of 77mm lenses and works best with high zooms, such as the 70-210mm or 100-400mm. Canon also carries the 250D for 58mm diameter lenses. They both work as easy as they sound; just screw the lens onto your prime lens as you would any other filter. Let’s take a look at some examples. Click on any picture to see the image at 100% for maximum pixelpicking.
Now, applying the close-up lens and moving the end of the lens to within about six inches of the rock, we get the next image. ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/1000sec
The shutter speed change was due to variance in the natural sunlight while taking the photos. Otherwise, the lens typically stops things down close to one full stop when applied.
Next are the same shots with an f-stop of 20. ISO 100, f/20, 1/80sec, 300mm, no close-up lens
And now: ISO 100, f/20, 1/80sec, 300mm, with the close-up lens applied.
Again, click on each photo for a full size image (WARNING: They are about 7MB each).
The close-up lens does decent work at getting crisp macro shots, especially when used at smaller aperture sizes. The images can be soft around the edges, though. No, it is not a full replacement for a good, quality macro lens, but it does fill a certain niche. That niche is perfect for those who don’t wish to carry another lens just for Macro work while traveling, as well as those looking to be a bit cheaper alternative, especially those looking to experiment with Macro before dropping money on a high quality lens