View Full Version : Close up lenses - Recommendations please!

04-02-2013, 03:05 PM
Im thinking about buying a close up lens just for the fun of it. Should be of decent quality nonetheless, though I do not expect wonders from these kind of things. Has anyone made experience with the Hoya/Kenko +3 achromats or Marumi +3 achromats or was able to compare them? Are there other brands I should put into consideration? Im looking for a 2-lens achromat since the single close up lenses are not really good from what Ive read.

04-02-2013, 03:28 PM
Depends on the camera, but perhaps an extension tube might be better?

04-02-2013, 03:33 PM
If you look at eBay then you can find many high quality close-up lenses at reasonable prices. Some companies, like Nikon, made both 2-element higher quality models and single element models. Even the old 0, 1, 2 single element Nikon models do quite well with a 50/2 or 50/1.8 if you stop down. The 3T/4T/5T/6T models are no longer made and can be expensive when you find them. Both Konica and Minolta made 2-element close-up lenses of very good quality. The Konica models are mostly 55mm size. The Minolta ones came in 49, 52 and 55 with the 52 and 55 sizes being more common. Topcon's 2-element close-up lenses are usually found in larger sizes like 58 and 62. Sigma made some nice Achromatic close-up lenses. A few of the larger size ones will only mount with a lens that has a front bayonet mount. Asahi also made some 2-element models. Consider finding step-up or step-down adapter rings if you find a nice close-up lens at a good price but in the wrong size. Some companies made fractional diopter close-up lenses. These are usually found in large sizes and can be helpful in getting long telephoto lenses closer. Canon made and may still make some very nice 2-element close-up lenses like the 250D and 500D models. The problem is that they have become cult items and can be expensive. Some people attach a reversed 50mm lens to the front of a 50 or longer lens for more magnification. This is done with an adapter ring which has a male thread on both sides. You can buy these or make them. A good reference for close-ups is the Manual Of Close-up Photography by Lester Lefkowitz. Old copies are available online.

Ian Grant
04-02-2013, 03:36 PM
What camera/lens are you wanting to use it with ?

I have had great results with close up lenses bur prefer extension tubes or bellows. I have a couple of Hoya close up lenses +1 & +2 49mm thread I used way back when I first had a Spotmatic F, (I have another now 30 yearsw later).

In Turkey I have a +2 or +3 for my Yashicamat 124 which is good stopped down. And that's the key to close up lenses stopping down for optimum performance.


04-02-2013, 04:39 PM
I want to use it with my Hasselblad and 180/4 lens. Problem is that to get the magnification a +3 diopter would give me, I would need to stack at least a 55mm and 32mm tube together, and I dont want to do that. (I do not have tubes anyway). My plan was to get a 67mm/B60 adapter ring and a 67mm close up lens, so the Hasselblad shade would still fit over it. I know there are the Zeiss Proxars but these are only single lenses and though second hand, still nearly as expensive as a decent achromat.

04-02-2013, 06:33 PM
you really want to look for two-element achromats -- vastly better performance. But depending on what sort of camera you have, why not just buy a macro lens? A nikon one can be had for about $100. Then you can use it as a normal lens (nothing is sharper) as well and there's not the hassle of screwing lenses on and off your normal lens.

04-03-2013, 12:37 PM
A Nikon macro lens made for 35mm cameras would not cover the 6X6 format unless you had a lot of extension. Bronica sold larger size 2-element close-up lenses which are supposed to be good. These also can be found on eBay.

04-03-2013, 11:58 PM
I have the Canon 500D close-up lens, it does a nice job, gives very clean images.

Dan Fromm
04-04-2013, 08:05 AM
Depends on the camera, but perhaps an extension tube might be better?

It doesn't depend on the camera, it depends on the lens.

Several centuries ago Modern Photography magazine ran a series of educational articles on a two year cycle. Every other year "Close up lens or extension tube? Which is better?" turned up.

The answer was always the same. Some lenses for 35 mm SLRs give better results with more extension, others with a diopter in front. The only way to find out which is better for the lens in hand is to try both.

Back then I had a 50/1.4 Nikkor, didn't know much, had little money. So I bought a couple of Nikon's single-element diopters and tried 'em. The results were so terrible that I accumulated my small monetary units until I had enough to buy a 55/3.5 MicroNikkor and got one. Within a year I'd stopped using the 50/1.4.

Several posts here have recommended getting a macro lens. That's the right answer, especially at today's prices for used macro lenses.

Allan Swindles
04-07-2013, 04:33 PM
Slixtiesix, this may not interest you, but I have used my 150mm Sonnar and two 55mm tubes to achieve almost 1:1 magnification, with great success. I used electronic flash which made for a hefty combination, but it worked well.

04-18-2013, 02:09 PM
You could also consider a reverse-mounting ring that lets you flip your lens around. This also was a common method of shooting closeups.

I haven't used Proxars for medium format. I have used Proxars for 35mm and have been pleased.

05-30-2013, 06:13 AM
Just wanted to mention that I ended up with a Hoya AC Pro 1 Digital +3. Sharpness is quite good if the lens is stopped down.

Allan Swindles
05-30-2013, 05:23 PM
Sorry Slixtiesix, for me it just doesn't BITE, tubes will give better results.

John Koehrer
05-31-2013, 08:38 PM
Ahhhhhh, opinions. Pretty much everybody's got one.

Dan Fromm
06-01-2013, 08:01 AM
Ahhhhhh, opinions. Pretty much everybody's got one.

John, its worse than that.

Once upon a time there was a photography magazine called Modern Photography. MP ran educational articles on roughly a two year cycle. Every other year they published a piece, with fairly carefully done tests, on the question "Extension tube(s) or closeup len(es), which is better?" And every two years they reached the same conclusion. Some lenses perform better closeup on tubes, others behind a closeup lens. If you want to know which to use with your lens, try both.

06-23-2013, 04:13 PM
I have just taken today some photos with a 3 dioptre close-up lens held over the lens of my Kodak Brownie six-20 Model 'D' made by Kodak England -- I used very outdated Kodak Vericolor III 120 film re-wound onto a 620 spool -- lighting was a British Bowens Monolite 400 on full power, camera on a Slik 88 tripod and the exposure made by 'Open Flash' method -- the Little Piggy is about 15 cms high and I was 31.5 cms away