Saturday, January 3, 2009


Have you been saving up your hard earned money for a macro lens? Do you already own a macro lens? Whether you are saving for a macro lens or you already have one, I would strongly recommend that you consider adding the Canon 500D close-up lens to your camera system. Do not confuse this ONE Close-up lens with those much lesser quality close-up filter sets. When it comes to a close-up “lens”, there is but one and Canon is KING!

Canon offers up three close-up lenses (the 250D, the 500 and the 500D) in various filter sizes ranging from 52mm to 77mm filter size. The 250D is recommended for focal lengths from 35mm to 150mm and the 500 and 500D are recommended for focal lengths between 70-300mm. Since most shooters own a telephoto zoom that goes to at least 200mm, I personally would recommend the purchase of the 500D only. (The 500 is a single element glass constructed lens and the 500D is a double element glass constructed lens which translates into a wee bit sharper image.) Depending on the filter size of your zoom lens, you will pay anywhere from $75.00 to $145.00:

In the spring of 2008, I bought the Canon 500D, 77mm filters size, initially to use on my Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 zooms. After spending but a few hours in the garden with my 500D closeup filter attached to the front of my 70-200mm F/2.8 Nikkor lens, I was hooked on the practicality of owning this closeup lens. Once I sat down in front of the computer, I could see sharpness that easily compared to the sharpness normally obtained with my Micro-Nikkor 200mm lens. The only drawback that I could find was that the 500D renders only a 1/3 life-size magnification and that is when the 70-200mm lens is set to 200mm. But hey, if you are not all about the itty bitty crittters and primarily a flower and butterfly photographer, this is one option to seriously consider in lieu of buying that $1300.00 200mm Nikkor Micro lens or the 180mm Canon Macro lens. Add into this equation the size and weight of this filter, (pocket size and about the weight of a deck of cards), you are quick to arrive at the same “slam-dunk” conclusion that I did and order one right away. When I find myself heading out the door in one of my “traveling light moods”, I am quick to grab the 500D and put it in my front pants pocket and now I am ready for all those butterflies that may come my way gladly leaving behind the weight (2.5 lbs) of my 200mm Micro-Nikkor lens.

Althought this lens is intended for use with a telephoto lens, (heck it says so in Canon tech-spec sheets) I have made the discovery that the 500D, in combination with a super wide, such as my Nikkor 12-24mm lens allows me to capture even more “up close and personal” compositions. (The one and only word of caution that I can offer when using the 500D on a wide-angle lens is this: first remove your UV or Skylight filter as the combination of your protective filter and the 500D will cause vingnetting in the corners of your composition.)

Focus is also continuous with this filter meaning that when you find yourself shooting at the 200mm focal length at a distance of 7 inches, you can zoom back towards 70mm and the focus distance is still the same, 7 inches away, UNLIKE extension tubes which will find you needing to constantly re-adjusting the focus every time you zoom to a different focal length.



PHOTO#1-#2-There are of course many signs of spring, not the least of which are the return of flowers, bee’s and butterflies and along many a swampy river bank or pond, the dragonfly hatch is well on it’s way, to the delight of frogs everywhere. Lyon, France boasts the largest city park of all French cities and even come close to rivaling New York City’s Central Park in size. There is an abundance of critters every spring at the Park Tete D’Or, including the dragonflies that live on the edges of the several large ponds that encompass the flower gardens. Seated comfortably on the green grass that runs up to the edge one small pond, I spied several baby dragonflies, basking in the warm glow of the morning sunshine. Dawn had just arrived and at this hour, many insects are a bit slow to wakeup, allowing the photographer to work at rather close ranges without fear of the critters flying away. Like many people I know, even bugs and insects are slow to wake up. Hand-holding my camera and Nikkor 70-200mm VR lens at the 200mm focal length and with my aperture set to f/8, I focused as close as I could, adjusted the shutter speed until a 1/320 second indicated a correct exposure and fired off several frames. Needless to say, and I am sure you will agree, I need to get closer and fill that frame! The composition here is much like the guy whose seat is on the fourth level, last row, at a Laker’s basketball game.

Because I left the house in one of my ‘light moods’, I had but one option to get closer and it was right inside my pants pocket; the Canon 500D closeup lens. After threading on the close-up lens, I picked up and moved forward, until the lens was now focusing at its closest focusing point-three feet. With the focal length still set to 200mm, its now clear that this really is and was meant to be a composition of a baby dragonfly at rest.
My exposure here was also, f/8 at a 1/320 second.



PHOTO#3-#4-Silver Falls State Park continues to be one of Oregon’s best kept secrets. It is Oregon’s largest State Park, yet most outdoor enthusiast’s prefer to trek further north, in and around the famous Columbia River Gorge. That’s fine with me too, since I don’t have to deal with any crowds along the 9 miles of hiking trails. Plus, I dont have to worry about being in other people’s way or they getting in my way, when I stop to shoot any of the 11 very impressive waterfalls. Springtime is the ideal time to visit Silver Creek, if you want to see the waterfalls flowing at their peak. The spring run-off of the snowmelt from the Cascade Mountain Range causes the rivers to swell and the resulting water flow fills the canyons of Silver Falls State Park with thunderous roars. As the trail meanders down more than 50 stone steps, you step onto a somewhat level dirt trail and just around the corner you are met with the thunderous roar of the 160 feet tall North Falls. Its one of those obvious wide angle shots where you will be able to record the waterfalls, top to bottom and the surrounding forest, but on this day, I was determined to record an “up close and personal landscape” and I found just the right subject to make that happen, a salmon berry bush that was growing within inches of the trail. As you can see in the first example, and at the focal lenght of 18mm, my attempt at creating an up close and personal composition where the focus would be on the salmon berry bloom fell quite short of an “up close and personal landscape”. With my aperture set to wide open, f/4, and the focus on the flower itself, the resulting visual weight of emphasizing the flower did in fact work, but as I have mentioned, the bush and the flower itself is still too small inside the frame. The solution was an easy one. I reached into my camera bag and placed the Canon 500D close-up lens on my 12-24mm Nikkor lens and voila, I was now able to place the emphasis on the flower, yet do so within the much wider angle of view of 18mm. This is not just a close-up of a salmon berry bloom, but rather it’s a close-up of a salmon berry bloom “in the forest, near a large waterfall”. This kind of close-up photography in my mind is akin to “having your cake and eating it too”, since you not only record an intimate encounter with the flower, but you also record the ‘story behind it’. It is a way of looking at the world that is still very new and the possibilites are, not surprisingly, endless, thanks to the addition of the Canon 500D Close-up lens!

Bryan F. Peterson
Founder of PPSOP

1 comment:

Laura Cotterman said...

This is so cool! Are you saying it threads on the front of the lens? I assume so and that is why you are using a Canon gizmo on your Nikon lenses.

Thanks, Laura