Want a new photography toy to play with that costs $9.95?
That’s right, I said NINE DOLLAR (and 95 cents!) Are you intrigued yet?!!! When I first heard about macro filters, I skimmed over the raves and photos and looked right at the price—and promptly followed the link and pressed buy! I knew I just had to try and if they weren’t any good then I figured I just lost less than it costs to get a treat from Starbucks—it was a gamble I was willing to take! *prices do vary, but most packs of 4 filters costs less than $20.
I have been using my filters for a little over a month, so I am by no means an expert, but I compiled a few tips I thought might be helpful to anyone interested in these fun little filters.
Read more: 7 Best macro photography tips
Know the size of your lens
Before you hit buy, take off the lens cap of the lens you want to use the filters with and turn it over. You will see a number (52mm, 58mm, 62mm, etc.) THIS is the size of your lens and you will want to make sure that you buy the correct size filters. Remember in that first paragraph I told you I saw the price, followed the link and pressed buy?? Yep, I bought the wrong size. I had NO idea they even came in different sizes or where to look for the width size of my current stash of lenses. I currently use my filters with my Nikon 50mm 1.8 (which requires a 52mm filter) and I can’t use them with my 85mm (which is 62mm)
What do you get?
Macro filters typically come in packs of 4. Each filter has a different magnification level. The 4 in my pack are +1, +2, +4 and +10…the higher the number the more magnification the filter creates. I love that mine came in a portable case that keeps them padded and protected. I stick them in my camera bag/purse so I have them with me always-they are very light and totable.
What do you do?
Now that you have your filters in hand, decide which magnification level you want and then screw it on to the end of your lens. Pretty simple. Unless you are me and try to snap them on. Oops. Remember that the lower the number, the less magnification you’ll get.
What else can you do?
You can screw the filters on to each other—making the magnification greater than just one filter alone. The photos below show the range you can achieve with the filters. The first shot below of the goldfish was taken with just the +1 filter and the second shot was with all 4 of the filters screwed onto each other. (The photos under tip #1 with the sizes of the lenses also shows the range between the filters)
This may seem really obvious, but alas, to me it was not! In my first shots with the filters on, I couldn’t get anything in focus through my viewfinder. I was too far away. I am a 100% a prime shooter, so I am quite familiar and comfortable with the distance I need to be from my subjects for each of my lenses (35, 50 and 85) so I automatically stood at the distance I needed to be with my 50mm on, which was not anywhere near close to where I needed to be. So I moved in closer and closer–it was quite uncomfortable at first because part of my shooting style is to keep a respectable distance from my subjects. I felt like I was suffocating the poor box of crayons! I was seriously out of my comfort zone. So my advice is to almost have the lens touching your subject and start slowly pulling back until you get something in focus. I have had no trouble using my autofocus with the filters (Nikon D700 and 50mm 1.8), but I have also experimented with manual focus and have found that just as easy with the filters. If you have trouble grabbing focus in autofocus, try switching to manual.
I wish I figured this one out earlier! I typically shoot (with my 85 or 50mm) with my aperture set between f 2.8 and f4…and so therefore I made no adjustments when I first screwed on the filters. When I uploaded my photos, there was little to nothing actually in focus. I was not making any adjustments for the fact that the magnification greatly reduces the focal plane. So-I closed down to f14 and got much better results.
Speaking of the focal plane…
It is very, very small. And the slightest movement, forward or backwards, will pull you out of focus. The less magnification, the more leeway you have. When you put on that 10+ filter, it is HARD to get something in focus. It is hard to stay still. Try a tripod. I have a newfound respect for surgeons! However, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. In my attempts at a steady hand, I have some out of focus shots that I have come to love. Try to appreciate the beauty in the attempt.
Lots and LOTS and lots of mistakes! I am firm believer that there is no better teacher than your own mistakes. The very first photos I took with my filters were on my daughter’s curls. I so desperately want some close ups of those precious spirals. First attempts=EPIC FAIL. That is when I realized I should have started with a stationary object. I learned from that mistake. I also had a super high aperture thinking that I just wanted a sliver of her curls in focus. I did not know that the focal plan is greatly reduced when using a filter—so I also learned I need to really close down. A lot.
I love getting to be creative without spending a fortune. These filters allow me to explore macro photography without the high price tag of a dedicated macro lens. I can also use these filters as a part of my shot—something I’m not sure would be quite as easy with a real macro lens.
If you’d like to see some more stunning examples of how you can rock macro filters, please check out my talented friend, Heidi Howard of Maehill Studio. She’s got some great eye candy for you!
If you’ve made it all the way through, I have a surprise for one of you! Remember that pack of filters I bought in the wrong size?! I’m giving them away!! They are for 58mm size lenses…so if you have a lens you can use them on—enter to win them!
Thank you Brennan for giving away a set of macro filters! Below are the details.
Macro Filters Giveaway Details
Please “share” this giveaway on Facebook. It doesn’t count as an entry but I’d appreciate it :)
Contest open from October 9-11th midnight EST.
Contest is only open to US residents. Please read the Giveaway Policy.
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook or Google Plus. We hereby release Facebook and Google Plus of any liability. Winner will be contacted by email 48 hours after the giveaway ends.
Guest Post-Brennan Lanter
I am a natural light, lifestyle photographer based in Chesapeake, VA. I spend my days with my 3 “littles” searching for the mundane moments I can make extraordinary through my lens (es!) When I’m not behind the camera, I consider a trip to Target alone a major thrill! Website | Facebook | Pinterest
*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you in advance if you purchase something and support Click it Up a Notch.