I am thinking of purchasing a close-Up lens, which I understand will fit on the front of my existing lenses. I have two different lenses, and can't determine which one would be better for a close-up lens adapter/filter. The body is a Canon 650d, and the two lenses are the Canon 50mm 1.8f and the Tamron 18-270mm. The thread sizes are different between the two lenses, so I want to choose to use only one. How does the main lens affect the image quality and ease of use when a close-Up lens is attached?

I know basically nothing about macro photography, so I'm not yet confident that I can state what 'best' means to me yet. Although, I do understand some of the limitations of a close-up lens.


2 Answers 2


Most close-up lenses are basically toys, they tend to have really bad optics and as such produce low quality images.

If you want to do cheap macro photography there are other better options:

  • Extension tubes - those are tubes that move your lens away from the sensor, this let the lens focus closer and achieve higher magnification, extension tubes don't have any optics in them so they don't degrade image quality at all.

    The cheaper extension tubes don't have electrical contact for the lens so you won't have auto-focus (that typically isn't used anyway in macro photography) and you won't be able to control aperture (see the trick at the end of this answer).

    Extension tubes with electrical contacts are still way cheaper than a proper lens.

  • Lens reversal rings - those are adapters that let you mount a lens backward, this will also let you take extreme macro photos, again, those don't have any optics so they don't degrade image quality and most don't have electrical contacts (so no auto-focus and see below for aperture control).

Obviously the best option for macro photography is a proper macro lens but both extension tubes and lens reversal rings let you take macro photos without compromising on quality (but you do lose the ease of use of a proper macro lens).

All extension tubes and reversal rings are filled with exactly the same air - so, as long as it's strong enough not to break it doesn't matter what brand you get.

Aperture control trick - connect the lens to the camera, set aperture, press the DOF preview button, with the button pressed disconnect the lens - the lens will stay at the set aperture and you can use it on an adapter with no electrical contacts

  • \$\begingroup\$ So, what I hear you saying is that since the close-up lenses are basically toys, it doesn't really matter which underlying lens is used. Does the same hold true for reversal rings? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jeff
    Jun 4, 2013 at 16:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your trick with aperture won't work on eg. Nikon G lenses. They have small aperture lever operated by body and there is a spring holding it in default (closest) position while disconnected. I think Canon lenses are very similar, just their default position is wide open. Furthermore there should be noted that the extension tubes significantly lower the light transfer. (you will have to use longer exposure times) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 4, 2013 at 19:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Canon EF lenses have no mechanical linkage to the body. The body sends an electrical signal to the lens and a motor in the lens moves the diaphragm. If you disconnect the lens while the diaphragm is stopped down, it will remain stopped down. There is no return spring, the movements both ways are done by the electrical motor. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jun 4, 2013 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jeff - what I'm saying is that close-up lenses are crap (with very few expensive exceptions), if you want to take good pictures use something else. Chinese extension tubes from eBay are cheap and the same set of tubes will work on all lenses - and since extension tubes are just spacers with no optics in them the crappy cheap tube has in it exactly the same air as the expensive Canon tube \$\endgroup\$
    – Nir
    Jun 5, 2013 at 6:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PetrÚjezdský - the aperture control trick works only on Canon lenses, I wrote about it because the original question talks about Canon gear, look at Michael Clark's comment to see why it works \$\endgroup\$
    – Nir
    Jun 5, 2013 at 6:22

May I suggest to you to buy a Macro lens? As you don't really use autofocus in macro you can also find great offer in vintage lenses on ebay (give a look, for exemple, at the Contax Macroplanar 60mm which can be mounted on Canon body with a adapter ring)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok the Contax macroplanar is maybe not so cheep on ebay... \$\endgroup\$
    – floqui
    Jun 4, 2013 at 7:06

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