Welcome to my life

Royal International Air Tattoo 2009

Royal International Air Tattoo 2009 at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.

  1. himani verma
    himani verma

    Love the detail in the article. Suppose I will try out the filter kit I purchased with my DSLR 70D Canon and wait till I buy the real thing- The Macro Lens

  2. ump

    Yes, well... I'm sure that you were well-intentioned, but the road to you-know where and all that... You used the lowest quality type of close-up filters to be had - albeit over-priced brand name ones - and the wrong (and anyway mediocre) lenses, compared the two zooms to a more expensive higher quality prime, and concluded that the CUFs don't work well full stop. Hmmm.

    A meaningful test would have used a lens in the same class as the macro lens and, most importantly, twin element achromatic close-up adapters. Which you can actually find in decent glass for about what those awful Hoyas cost you and work a LOT better. The next time you do something like this then think about the gear you are using - is a kit zoom a fair basis for comparison to a pro-level prime? sometimes it can be, especially in m43, but rarely in Canikon Land - and spend a little more time net researching the hardware to make sure that you buy the right thing.

    For example, this a test of 2 element cuf on a DP3:


    As the tester says, quality is as good as with the DP3's lens in normal mode - which is to say at least an edge better than any Canon prime, because the DP3's lens is made by Sigma to Art Lens standards - the DP3 is primarily a dedicated machine for the highest quality portraits and, with the cuf fitted, studio product shots, when DSLR quality won't do.

    Until you've done that I would urge you to delete this article or to post a warning that it may be misleading - because macro lenses ain't cheap and right now you may be causing people to buy them who don't need them.

  3. Ruud

    Interesting test and info, but I still ordered a Vivatar macro filterset lookalike on Aliexpress for 7.27 Euro to find out for myself. To be used on my Pentax X-k standard kit lens (being on a budget...)

  4. Nic

    Hi Tim
    Thanks for your testing - I won't bother to buy a close up filter now!

    Have you tried using tube extenders that fit between the lens and the camera to shorten closest focus distance?


  5. AnkurTG

    Hi, nice work there.
    In my experience of using a Close-up filters with a telephoto, the aperture needs to be as small as possible (you wish you could go smaller than f/22), and you can kiss autofocus goodbye.
    A combination of manual focus and actual camera movement usually gets me the right shot.

    I have a feeling your results with the telephoto can be much better without autofocus, once a very narrow aperture is used. It would probably still not compare with the macro-lens result, but would be closer.
    You would probably also need additional lighting and/or long exposures in that setup.

  6. Rajesh

    Excellent comparison :) Loved the conclusion including the tip of purchasing a 5+ filter to get started :)
    Must read for newbies like me.

    - Rajesh

  7. jay

    This is a great comparison because like most people I wanted to take product photography with my cheap lens that came with a kit and wanted to see the difference and what kind of quality I will get if I buy a macro lens vs lens filters. Helps people like me a lot. I ended up going with the lens filters as the products I have are no so small (cell phones etc.) and the filters does the job no need to get super close.

  8. NK


  9. Yollande

    I want to get into macro - just bought a Raynox DCR-250 macro/close up conversion lens. (used) Don't have it yet but heard good things about it. Any comment out there on this one..... Allot cheaper than the big macro, which my budget doesn't allow right now and I just can't wait to play, so I bought it.

  10. Imrevince Dev
    Imrevince Dev

    Of course, a close up filter can not beat the sharpness of a macro lens, but the filter costs only P2,000.00 as compared to the lens that costs P50,000.00. However, photoshop can just take care of the sharpness.

  11. bari

    cool! very informative and well done article :) thanx!

  12. Denis

    excellent always wondered why one thought by adding another lens ring/filter on top of a macro lens images would get sharper....

    great work/project and well done for getting the light right on a rainy day!

    Denis Ananiadis

  13. ashwani parik
    ashwani parik

    thanks for above information it helps a lot . but i have a problem ,i hav buyed a closeup filter set and the photograph which i want is not coming properly .i means to say it gets blured when i zoom in .......any one can help me ...your tips will be highly appreciated .(i use 18-270 mm tamron with nikon body)

  14. ernest talusan
    ernest talusan

    hello, i have a tokina 28-70, 2.8 and a tamron 70-200, 2.8 too. i just want to ask if i can use close-up lens filter to both of my lenses?...thanks for your time.

  15. Stev

    Good one, but have you used some cheap 1-element close-up lenses? You should try same test using close-up lenses like Canon 500D and 250D.

    Anyone who thinks about having close-up lens, DON'T BUY CHEAP ONE! You get them for some

  16. Roni


    I wasn't aware of your blog, when I did a similar test with a Macro lens, see here: http://sonyalphaa55.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/close-up-filters-and-macro-lens-do-the-work-together/

  17. Steven Campbell
    Steven Campbell

    Without a doubt the author did great research however if you have a lens that isn't telephoto and really do know what you are doing, AND are willing to go totally manual, you can create some amazing DOF and sharp shots with close up filters.

    The camera + lens doesn't create photos, the person using the gear does.

  18. Craig

    Has anyone else noticed there may be a mistake in the focal distances given. For starters the first photo (without filter) starts with the 50p being 115mm away from the lens and the first +2 filter helps him come 25mm closer to the coin! That's awfully close to begin with and if the filter only lets you come 25mm (about an inch and a quarter) closer I say why bother?

    Surely he means 115cm and 25cm closer, respectively.

    Nice article, though. I'm thinking about getting a filter for my Konica Auto S2 rangefinder. My only option, I'm afraid. Won't go above the +2 by the looks of things due to dop dropoff.

  19. Fajar Priyanto
    Fajar Priyanto

    Thanks for the article. You answer my question ^^

  20. Craig

    That 60mm macro is quite the lens compared with the kit 55-200mm used. Is there a chance you could compare apples to apples by using a 50mm prime?

    I sure see a difference using my 50mm prime vs the 50mm setting on my 50-200 or even my 18-50.


  21. rhoel


    Thank you for the highly detailed tests. It was just the info I was looking for!


  22. richie

    hi tim,
    i have found your information here VERY useful.
    the majority of my work is macro, using the standard 18-55mm lens, i cannot afford a real macro lens, so over the past couple of months i have been researching the close up filters and i was comtimplating buying a close up filter, but thanks to your write up here, i now know that i have to save my pennies and buy the real deal when it comes to the macro lens
    this info was just what i was looking for
    nice one tim, cheers

  23. mario

    Thanks for the nice article, however I just bought a close up filter with +3 just before reading your article. I just want to know whether a macro lens would suit me or not so I tried to buy this filter first.

    I shot with Canon EF-50mm f1.4 and found out the result is sharp. I'm just wondering whether you have tried this combination and compare the result with EF 100mm f2.8 macro? if yes, would you recommend the lens?

    Thank you

  24. Arun

    Excellent article, this is exactly what was bugging me for a while.

  25. yoachan

    Thanks! It answered my questions :)

  26. jonathan

    It would be interesting of comparing a fix focal with a macro for having a more realistic result. It would be more like comparing aple with aple. If you do this test, I would be really interested to see it.

  27. Ray

    Thank you ever so much for sharing this info. It has given me tremendous help.

  28. Im thinking of purchasing a macro lens but looking at tubes. Will I need a special flash to use them?

  29. Ingrid

    Tanks for doing this article! It was really helpful for an amateur photographer like myself.

  30. Wunna

    Thanks Tim, you saved my money ....I am about to buy close-up filter ...but I think I should consider some more

  31. Sahan

    Thanks a lot Tim,
    As a amateur photographer i have just started my search on macro photography and was wondering exactly what you had explained in such detail. Thanks a lot for taking the time to put this up, its been a great help to clear my mind as to which direction i should go for when thinking of macro photography.
    On a side note, I have come across telephoto zoom lens with the macro function and I

  32. Eth

    What a painstaking piece of work but sooo useful for an enthusiastic amateur like me. Thanks!

  33. Karen

    This article was just what I needed, it has answered all the questions running through my head about which to purchase. Thank you!

  34. Andy

    Hi I was also very interested in this test,I have a nikon 105mm macro lens and there are times I would like to get more than a 1to1 magnification so Iam now wondering what it would be like if I purchased a top quality pro close up filter like a hoya pro x2 or x3 and put it on my Nikon 105mm macro lens.Iam also wondering if a x3 or a x4 close up filter might be pushing the boundries abit to much so Iam tempted to try a x2 Hoya close up filter on my macro.Has anyone out there any experience of this set up?

    1. Vesa

      I was thinking exactly the same thing (except I'm a Canon guy with a 100mm macro lens). Might just have to try. At least the filters aren't terribly expensive.


      Anyways.. Thanks Tim for the informative article.

  35. curious photographer
    curious photographer

    thank you, you have set my mind to ease. i was always concerned with the optical qualities of these macro filters, and your sample photos prove this point. i'll save up for a real macro lens. for the time being maybe i'll look for some cheap macro extension tubes.

  36. Eric

    The point of using a close up filter is for you to be able to get closer to it. It decreases your minimum focus distance. It looks like you were just using those filters from a distance where you didn't even need them in the first place. This just added a needless air / glass interface.

  37. Vaughan

    Really useful information - I had been wondering why I should get an expensive macro lens
    rather that a 'low' cost filter - now I know! Thanks for sharing!

  38. Jim

    Well done! Very interesting comparisons. Regards from across the pond!

  39. sara

    I really like what you have done here! Very informative!
    But I still don't know which one I should choose..
    I have a Canon 450d and I love to take really good and sharp close-ups.
    This is a jungle! I thought that a close-up filter would be a good and cheaper option then to buy another lens... Can you help??

  40. Rasyid

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for your insight... I am about to purchase a filter.. I think I just hold on for macro lens instead

  41. Sunil

    Good information, Thanks for sharing.


  42. gracie

    Hi! Thanks for sharing! ;-)

  43. Pratim

    Hi Tim,
    Excellent set of tests. Thank you for all the pains you have taken to help us all.


  44. Asim

    Thank you for this comparison. I found it very useful.

  45. Niels T
    Niels T


    Informative article, but I thought most macro photographers used manual focus? Am I wrong? The same test could have been interesting with manual focus.

  46. Roy Van Morales
    Roy Van Morales

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for sharing. Very helpful.

    Roy Van

  47. David Young
    David Young

    This info is precisely what I was looking for as I looked thro all the filters available for my Nikon 55mm lens! Thank you so much for putting this info on the net!

  48. Bill McComack
    Bill McComack

    Good set of tests.

    Have you done a similar thing for tubes?

    I bought a cheap (

    1. Eric

      To use a lens stopped down on manual extension tubes ... just use the depth of field preview button and hold it down while removing the lens ... works on Canon Rebels and I suppose other cameras.

  49. Steve Wood
    Steve Wood

    Wow - a lot of work, but really useful, thanks. I am trying to decide what to buy and this makes it really clear that you get what you pay for.

    nb Digital Camera magazine, August 2009, has a review of macro lenses and comes up with the Tamron 90mm f2.8 as better than the Canon or Nikon macro equivalents.

    ps there is something wrong with the right hand captions - the HTML shows. (I am viewing with Firefox)

  50. Mario Rossi
    Mario Rossi

    Hello! This is great info! Thank you very much for sharing. I am learning about photography and this is exactly what I was looking for. Cheers!

  51. Jimi Mayhew
    Jimi Mayhew

    Tim, wow! thank you so much for that schooling. you just saved me the hassel of purchasing something that
    would not work for me. (This tight-ass will now get
    a macro lens,or at least an extension tube!!)

    1. gavin

      im going to go against the grain here :) and say i disagree totally. you have compared a fixed-focal-length macro lens, with 2 piece-of-total-crap zoom lenses that no one in their right mind would buy anyway, precisely because the are such poor quality. you described them as 'sold in canon bundle' which basically means canon are giving them away, and yet you had a good quality macro lens to compare them to? this is a no brainer....ofcourse the macro lens will be better, and you can see that in the images u shot without filters.....there is already a massive difference between the lenses, so this is not even a fair comparison. and further to that, the main difference in quality appears to be when you zoom those crappy zoom lenses out, which is when the images deteriorate completely, but thats more to do with the lens itself than the filter. to do this test properly, you need a fixed-length, good quality lens with a filter attached, vs a fixed-length, good quality macro lens.
      i use these filters, alot, primarily on an 85mm 1.8 lens, (with filters single, never stacked) and the results are outstanding. with the lens set to f 16 or 22 (to reduce the depth-of-feild issue), the results are superb, and anyone wanting to buy a

  52. edesigns

    Hi I found your article very interesting and informative. I have got a Canon 400d, a 18-55mm lens bundles with the camera, a zoom lens 100-300mm. 4 canon macro rings and I have just bought a hoya close up filter x 4, I am really undecided whether to stretch myself to a sigma 105 ex dg lens or just use the equipment I have got. My income is low and find 350.00 a lot to shell out for but I would if the results are superior to the close up and macro rings. So far I have used the macro rings and done okay with 2 or three but when using all four together that's when i have the difficulties. Thanks for an interesting read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.