I always love the idea of being able to do macro photography…., no, what I think I mean is that I would love to be good at taking macro shots. I know that those to things are very different and the latter takes infinite patience, tons of practise and quite a bit of cash!
A good friend of mine lent me the Nikkor 105mm F/2.8 last year and I had a little play, and soon realised that anything that edges towards those wonderful shots you see involves some serious lighting and a lot of time in Photoshop. Even the lens itself is well out of my current budget, they are not the cheapest by any means.
When browsing some entries on Blip (the best site on the web) I saw a reference to some macro filters. This was not something I had heard about before – yes, I need to read more – and did some searching around. I came across these on Amazon and thought they were too good to be true given the price. Although I trust Amazon product reviews as far as I could throw a pregnant cow, they seemed quite positive and genuine. What the hell – for £13 they could be ropey.
I got them for my 50mm f/1.4 – my favourite piece of kit – but they are also available in a range of diameters to suit the most popular lenses. From the initial test shots to some that I have taken a little more care over (examples being a bee and a pale daffodil), I have been immensely impressed. Sure, they are no substitute for a proper macro lens, but I am happy enough with the quality for what I want to do as an enthusiastic amateur, so feel chuffed to bits with not shelling out hundreds of pounds for the real deal.
There are four filters that screw onto the lens, and they can also be stacked to suit intermediate focal distances. I have included some shots here to give you an idea of their scope.
50mm lens shooting at minimal focal distance (no filters)
50mm lens with the 1x filter
50mm lens with the 2x filter
I had real trouble with the clarity of this one, and I took a fair few shots to try and get round it, but I just couldn’t get a clear, focussed shot – I think I may have a dodgy x2 one :-\
50mm lens with the 4x filter
50mm lens with the 10x filter
50mm lens with the 4x and 10x filters stacked
For publishing on the web they are pretty OK eh?
I did shoot these all at f/16 as the DoF reduces rapidly when they are used, and anything much less with the more powerful filters results in an incredibly unusable shot.
Here are some at 50% resolution crops of the same images to give you a further idea. They didn’t look too hot at 100% I must admit, but as I am using them for publishing online then this is not a problem for me. The 1x and 2x filters do not produce good results and are only good for doing small to medium sized images, especially the 2x one. However, I predominantly seem to be using the 4x and 10x, but I can see that this could annoy others.