Two Elements to Better Macro Photography

RizzutoTony-3205I thought that title might suck you in and now that I’ve got your attention I want to tell you about my favorite accessory for macro photography.  It doesn’t matter if you are brand new to macro and want to buy some gear or if you’ve been shooting for years and already own a macro lens.  This accessory doesn’t have any performance drawbacks, it’s relatively inexpensive and I never leave to photograph without it.

Some call it a Multi-Element Diopter, some an Achromatic Filter and others a close up lens.  Very confusing but really it’s just a high quality filter made up of two elements that allow you to get really close to your subject and still focus.  Think of it the same way you do a pair of reading glasses…you know, the ones you put on when you can no longer hold your book close and still focus on the words.

Don’t confuse this with the inexpensive close up filters made of a single piece of lower quality glass.  This filter is made of two pieces of high quality glass and doesn’t degrade your image the way the cheap ones do.  Spend the extra money; you’ll be glad you did.

The cool thing about this gadget is it can be used with any lens 70mm or longer.  Put it on your telephoto lens and get really close to that Dahlia or stick it on the front of your macro lens and magnify things beyond life-size!  It’s that easy.  Put it on, get close and focus.  (One word of caution, it will make your low quality lenses look even worse so use it only with your higher quality lenses.)

How do they work?  As you get closer to your subject it gets bigger in your viewfinder (and on your sensor).  The problem is that you can get close to something to make it big but that doesn’t mean that you can focus on it.  A Multi-Element Diopter lets you get closer than normal (to make something big) and still focus (to make it sharp).

There’s one SMALL catch; once you put it on your lens you’ll loose your ability to focus on anything that’s not close.  Kinda like looking across the room at something through your reading glasses.  No biggie, put it on only when you’re going to shoot macro, after all it’s a macro accessory!

Much like your reading glasses Multi-Element Diopters come in different strengths.  And much like your glasses they are “rated” in diopter strengths.  Simply put, as the number gets higher you can get closer and still focus, resulting in more magnification.


I know that by now you might want a little shopping advice so I narrowed the list down to two that I’ve used and love.

Canon 500D Close Up Lens (+2 Diopter Strength)
Marumi DHG Achromat (+3 or +5 Diopter Strength)

So, grab one, put it on your lens and start getting close!


If you are interested in learning more about macro photography and want to learn to create big images of tiny subjects, I will be teaching a Macro Photography workshop from June 30 – July 5, 2013. Hope you can join me!



One thought on “Two Elements to Better Macro Photography

Scott Fuller

I like extension tubes, but they don’t cooperate well with zoom lenses. They also reduce the light coming in through the lens, so motion and depth of field are affected negatively sometimes.

I use the 500D primarily on my 70-200, and it works so well that I can hardly tell the difference between it and my 180 macro.

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