I will write down my experiences as I attempt to get to grips with the techniques required to record good quality close up photographs. The camera I have is a Fuji X-H1 which does not easily work with a reversed lens therefor I will use set of extension tubes that allow me to set the aperture and focus using the normal camera controls. Extension tubes will work with any of my lenses so I have maximum flexibility.
Good quality close up lenses will achieve the same results.
Below are links to Wikipedia pages giving some technical background for those that want to understand more.
My example macro photos:
I used extension tubes with my mirror-less Fuji camera for most of the photos which were later boosted by the addition of a single closeup lens for the 50mm – 240mm lens.
If you are using an interchangeable lens camera extension tubes would be my choice over close up lenses because it’s possible to use all your camera lenses to suit a set of circumstances. Closeup lenses will only fit the one filter size so you will probably only have the option of the lens it matches.
Extension tubes will reduce the amount of light reaching the camera’s photocell and you will have to adjust for that either by opening up the lens ( which will reduce the depth of field ) or increasing the ISO setting ( which may reduce the picture quality a bit ).
Check to make sure the tubes fully match your camera to allow automatic focusing and auto aperture control, if you want to maintain those features. Not all do, in which case it will be necessary to fall back on manual setting of both – not all lens / camera /tube combinations will allow that choice. This often applies to the cheaper extension tubes and less expensive lenses – but not always, so check it out and make sure you are buying the right tubes for you and your camera.
I will not recommend basic close up lenses. Generally it makes sense to pay more to have the ‘achromatic’ version which will provide better quality images by avoiding the ‘aberrations’ that are usually present in the cheaper versions. Look for ACHROMATIC in the description.
Closeup lenses do not affect exposure and will maintain the optimal values for the closeup work planned. More than one close-up lens or extension tube can be used in combination to get closer to the subject.
I like to use a longer lens to keep as far away as I can from the subject, especially if it’s an insect which will soon take fright. This also helps to avoid extra difficulties with dark shadows cast by the camera over the subject.
My Fuji is really an electronic gadget with pretty much all the camera controls run electronically. This does mean that I cannot easily use a reversal ring with this camera. A reversal ring does what it says and allows the photographer to reverse mount the lens on the camera body. With a DSLR this is certainly a great way to work – it’s amongst the least expensive and best options available. Mounting the lens in reverse allows the camera to be further away from the subject for a given magnification but will require manual focusing and aperture setting on the lens itself – so make sure the lens intended to use has a manual aperture setting on the barrel.
As I get more into these techniques I will share my experiences by posting results in my photo timeline.
If you are looking for the accessories to undertake macro or micro work there are some links below to Amazon extension tubes, achromatic close-up lenses and reversal rings to get you started. Adjust your search criteria when you get there if you don’t find what you want:
- Extension Tubes. They can be added together. Some of these items are single tubes whilst others are combinations which can be split apart or used in combos to alloww you to change the focusing distances:
2: Closeup Lenses – I have only included Achromatic but you will find much cheaper simple closeup lenses too, if you search only for closeup lenses. Larger ‘diopter’ numbers get you closer and they can be added to each other:
3 Lens Reversing Rings. Give this a try. Just make sure you get the right ring for your camera body and the ring then fits into the filter thread of the lens you intend to use so match the filter thread setting for that lens. The ring will only work with lenses that fit the thread and the ring will only fit onto the camera body lens mount of the camera type shown. Probably the best way to start for DSLR and those cameras using a lens with a manual aperture control on the lens.