Cheap stuff that works is always cool! I ordered a “Macro Effect” lens filter from DealExtreme. What kind of Macro Photography can you do for $8.99?
I decided I wanted to photograph one of my Z-scale (1:220) Märklin steam engines. My objective: to find out what the printing on the side of the train is. When you look at the pictures below, remember that the whole train is about 80mm long.
- Canon EOS 450D SLR Camera
- 18-55 mm EFS kit lens (3.5-5.6) (25 cm macro limit)
- 55-250 mm EFS lens (4-5.6) (110 cm macro limit)
- Premium 10X Macro-Effect Camera Lens Filter (58mm)
- Tripod and Remote shutter
All pictures are taken with Aperture F=10, ISO 100. Exposure times decided by the camera. RAW format was used but the pictures below are made JPEG-crappy with iPhoto.
Without Macro Effect filter
First are two pictures taken without the Macro Effect lens filter. These pictures are taken at roughly the shortest possible distance, using a suitable focal length.
I decided the pictures to be of roughly the same quality and I made a crop of the second one that shows the center part of the picture in native resolution (one RAW pixel corresponds to one JPEG pixel):
This is the “macro capability” of the standard kit-lens. Not that crappy. However, I cant read those printings on the train. Note that the DB-logotype is 2 mm long, so the letters are really really tiny.
With Macro Effect filter
Now follows four pictures using the Macro Effect lens filter. Note that these pictures are taken from 10-20 cm away from the lens. Focal depth is extremely short (a few millimeters). If possible, it is easier to focus by moving the object rather than moving the focus wheel. Now the pictures:
At 250 mm there is no combination of focus and distance to object that creates a sharp picture. At 135mm there is some sharpness in the middle of the picture. At 70mm it does not look so bad and 55mm is sharp almost to the sides. Not however, that the focal depth is just a few millimeters. I decided to make a crop of the text details of the 55mm picture though:
Now the characters are clearly readable! Other people can judge the artistic value of this 😉
The $8.99 Macro-Effect 10x lens filter does have some effect. It does amplify your object, giving you better Macro capability. You can use it with a 18-55mm EFS lens. However, with a 55-250mm lens things do not get sharp in most of the range. The macro limit of your camera gets much shorter with the Macro-Effect lens attached. Photographing without a tripod is very hard. Focal depths get close to 0.
For many purposes, a tripod, a good flash, and digital zoom will probably give you a better result than this Macro-Effect lens filter does.
It would be interesting to try a Macro Extension tube as well to see how it compares.