There is a bewildering array of options here, and prices to be paid for some of them. I will go through just the ones I have actually used.


Extension tubes

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This is the cheapest way to get close-up pictures using your existing equipment. A tube goes between the camera and the lens which allows closer focusing and therefore higher magnification. To work out the magnification use the following formula

magnification = extension / focal length.

If you have a modern camera with autofocus and through lens metering then it is possible to buy extension tubes which keep these functions intact.



Supplementary filters


You can buy close-up filters (e.g. x2, x4). These are basically a magnifying glass that you attach to the front of the lens, which literally magnify the image. The x4 filter seems to increase the image size by roughly 40%.

They are good value for money but are not optically brilliant, a small aperture essential to eliminate the aberrations of the lens.

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(True) Macro lenses


100mac.jpg (13884 bytes) A true Macro lens is one that can focus up to life size (i.e. 1:1) on film. They come in varying lengths (50mm, 100mm, 180mm) the longer the lens the further away you can be and still get the same shot. I use a 100mm Macro lens that gets 1:1 at about 30cm from the film to the subject. These lenses, it is generally considered, are often the some of the best optical quality lenses manufacturers make.

(Pseudo) Macro lenses

Lots of lenses claim to be macro lenses, and in a way they are. If they can get the subject matter to a size you want then that’s OK. I have used a 28-80mm zoom which focuses to about 30cm to get excellent results. Also I use a 70-210mm which gets good size images from a good working distance, you can take pictures of Butterflies in trees, or over fences which can be essential.

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All pictures in these pages copyright to Simon Coombes. Permission must be sought and obtained for any use.