I received my macro filter today – yay – I was so excited I had to try it out in my lunch break at work! 🙂
“Cheap Skate” you may be thinking and to a certain degree you would be right!
The truth is that I really wanted to try super macro photography but cannot afford to buy a decent macro lens (since they run into hundreds of £’s). Marvellously though, I found on ebay some really, REALLY cheap macro filters. They’re essentially just magnifying glasses that screw onto the front of any lens in the same way an ordinary filter does. (Although they do come in different sizes – so if you try them make sure you get the right size – my Canon 50mm prime lens and also my 50-200mm lens both have a 52mm diameter.) I purchased a single filter 10x version, although generally these types of filters come in sets of 3 or 4.
So, after initially thinking that I’d bought a dud (yeah, I screwed my filter on and started looking through the view finder at objects as I ordinarily would – Everything was blurry!!) and being amazed that I could take pictures with my 50-200mm lens practically touching a leaf (normal minimum focus distance for this lens is 4 feet!), I set about taking LOADS of photos.
I shall post a few pictures below after I give you a list of pitfalls with using a macro filter as opposed to a proper macro lens.
First of all the depth of field is EXTREMELY shallow (like 2mm or thereabouts!) – I recommend using an aperture of F16 –F22 for best results to give you a little more depth.
A smaller aperture means having to use flash or some other type of lighting for your subject as the amount of light getting into the camera is significantly reduced. Otherwise you’re going to have to use a very slow shutter (more risk of hand/camera shake) and you would also have to use a higher ISO setting, putting you at risk of having ‘noise’ in your images. I must admit though a little noise can actually add to the overall effect of an image so I don’t worry about it too much.
Autofocus doesn’t really work as well as it could – I suggest using manual focus. What I noticed also was that as well as being really, really close up to the subject (almost touching it with the lens) physically moving the camera forward or backward slightly gave a better focus once I found the ‘goldie locks’ distance. You need to experiment between focusing manually and actually moving the camera.
Because of the depth of field being so shallow and the fact that moving even just 0.5mm means the area of focus will change, it is difficult to get the focus point exactly where you want it – I suggest using a tripod – although this in itself is likely to be problematic as you’re going to have to either keep moving the tripod or keep moving the subject to get the desired focus.
Overall and despite the slight difficulties initially, I have managed to produce some images that aren’t too disappointing. Considering that the following photos were captured hand held they haven’t turned out too blurry.
It’s definitely going to take some practice and a lot of trial and error but being able to access the world of super macro photography for just £5 is amazing to me. If you are considering taking up macro photography I can honestly say that trying a macro filter BEFORE purchasing an expensive macro lens is probably the best way to go. And if it doesn’t suit you – you’ve lost a fiver!!
So without further ado, here’s my hand held macro photos for today (these images are straight out of camera and not processed in any way):
Well I hope you liked my little dip into macro (I’m sure I shall be doing a LOT more) – Love & Peace X X