Macro photography is essential for anyone working with wildlife, plant life and product or food photography. Unfortunately, for a beginning photographer like myself, it can be pricey to obtain a dedicated macro lens. There are two options available for those starting out (or just short on cash): macro tubes and diopter lens sets. For this article we’ll be talking about the one I decided to purchase: diopters.
What Are Diopters?
In nutshell — Diopters are magnifying lenses that you screw onto your main lens to get a closer shot. They come in sets with different strength lenses. The set I purchased (from Digital Concepts) came with +1, +2, +4 and +10. You can use a single diopter or layer them for increased magnification.
I received my set only yesterday, so I’m just starting to learn the combinations and limitations. As you can see from the test shot above, one down side to using diopters is that the more lenses you layer on – the deeper your depth of focus. In other words – the more lenses you use, the smaller the area is that you can get sharp focus on. This doesn’t cause a problem for me simply because I have them for shots that only require a small surface area such as products and food close ups. I also notice that I should probably use my tripod on any shots from this point on because the area of the magnification is so precise – any slight movement changes the focus point. I’d also recommend a shutter remote – which I also purchased and I’m eager to try out.
Though tubes and diopters cost around the same price, diopters do have the advantage when it comes to lighting. Tubes must be attached between your lens and your camera – restricting your light as you ad more tube sections. With a diopter, the lens stays against your camera and no matter how many you use your light source remains the same.
Average Price Comparison (new) :
- Dedicated Macro Lens - $150 – $300+
- Macro Tube - $12 – $180
- Diopter Lens Set - $9 – $70
Diopters come in different mm sizes to fit every DSLR camera and you can purchase either universal sets or those created specifically for your camera brand. Though, brand sets are recommended.
More information on diopters and usage: