I came upon a video and in it there was this what he calls a macro adapter: Raynox DCR-250. And then I searched google 'macro adapter' and saw this video and images of the same device in the first result page — it's something that goes between the lens and the camera.
So, what are these two devices properly called?


3 Answers 3


Some cameras will allow close-up photography without the need to purchase any paraphernalia. Most modern cameras work in close by allowing you to select a “macro” mode. This is a menu item or button designated with the symbol of a flower. You need to check your camera manual, likely you don’t need any accessory to get you started.

Next, look at your camera and lens as you focus. You will notice that as you focus on nearby objects, the lens is actually moving forward elongating the distance lens-to-camera.

So the question is: If you have a craving to do close up work and you need some gadgets, what should you buy?

  1. To work in close and obtain optimum quality with ease of operation, hands down, buy a “macro” lens. These are specialized lens, optimized to work in very close. They deliver the finest close up imagery.
  2. Rings/Tubes: Many camera / lens makers limit close focusing to about 1 meter (1 yard). This is because a general purpose lens is optimized to work distant objects and slightly compromised when tasked to work close. These are actually hollow tubes / spacers that mount between lens and camera body. They circumvent the inability of the standard camera lens to enlarge camera-to-body distance. These work great but with some caveats. Unless advanced rings / tubes are purchased, they disrupt body-to-lens automation. You will be on your own to set the lens aperture. In other words, most all automation will be lost. Advanced rings / tubes will maintain the lens-to-body connection but they are costly. Because a standard lens is optimized to image subjects with a diversity as to their depth, they will be slightly compromised if the subject lacks depth, like a stamp or coin. The countermeasure is to reverse the lens. A reversal adapter can be interposed between lens and ring/tube. This points the rear of the lens at the subject. The idea is, the rear of the lens is optimized to work something flat like film or digital imaging chip. Thus the rear or the lens gives improved performance working flat objects.
  3. Supplemental Close up lens: Sometimes called “close up attachment”, ‘close up filter” “close up adapter”: These are simple magnifying lenses that mount before the camera lens. They are an adaptation of the typical reading eyeglass lens. These are available in different strengths. The labeling is +1 - +2 - +3 - +4 etc. This is a unit of optical strength called a diopter. +1 = 1000mm, +2 = 500mm, +3 = 333mm, +4 = 250mm, +5 = 200m, +6 = 167mm, +7 = 143mm, +8 = 125mm, +9 = 111mm and +10 = 100mm. If you mount a +4 over your existing camera lens, the distance camera to subject is drastically reduced. With a +4 mounted, your camera will now focus at objects 250mm (10 inches) thru 200mm (8 inches). Supplemental close up lenses are stackable. You can sandwich say a + 2 with a +3 and the combination delivers +5. Such a stack yields a lens to subject distance of 200mm thru 167mm (8 thru 6 ½ inches). A Supplemental close up lens is your best bet for an entry level way to do extreme close up work. Despite bad press by mavens, they work quite well. Especially true of compound units, those with two lens sandwiched together. You can try one free. Go to the drugstore, find the reading eyeglass display, pick up a +3 and hold it before you camera lens. The results will be degraded but this will give a peek at what a photo grade supplemental lens will do.

Best of luck in the realm of “micro” photography.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "With a +4 mounted, your camera will now focus at objects 250mm (10 inches) thru 200mm (8 inches)." what does that mean? \$\endgroup\$
    – user152435
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 17:44
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @ user15435 --- A +4 supplemental close up lens has a focal length of 250mm. Mount this lens, it modifies like putting on reading glasses. Now set the camera’s focus to infinity (symbol∞ translates “as far as the eye can see”). This lash-up now allows you to focus on an object 250mm (10 inches) from the front of the lens. Generally, the normal focus range is about equal to1 additional diopter power. Thus the natural focusing range of the camera allows you to achieve focus down to about 200mm (8 inches). (Nobody says this stuff is easy!). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ What I don't get is "Generally, the normal focus range is about equal to1 additional diopter power. Thus the natural focusing range of the camera allows you to achieve focus down to about 200mm (8 inches)." .. .. . .. .. .Could you please explain it further and a little more simpler? \$\endgroup\$
    – user152435
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ You camera has a natural range of focus distance. Unusually, infinity to about 1 meter (3 feet). This is achieved by the focusing mechanism moving the lens further from the camera body. Mount a +3 and set the focus at infinity. With the +3 objects 333mm from the front of the lens are in focus. Now use your camera’s focusing mechanism and you can work in Generally you can reach a distance about equal to mounting a +4. A +4 =250mm. With the +3, likely your focus distance range is 333mm distance to 250mm distance. Many cameras allow more than 1d range. Yours might get even closer than 250mm. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 20:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Believe it or not, the diopter unit affords simpler computations when combining lenses. Suppose you combine a +3 with a +2. What is the final focal length? Math -- +3 +2 = +5. These are diopter units. What is the focal length of a +5? Answer 1/5 = 0.200 X 1000 = 200mm. This is a thin lens formula. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 20:12

The first one is not a "Macro adapter" it is an additional lens used on fixed lenses cameras. Think of it as a magnifying glass.

The ones on the video are not "Macro Adapters", they are extension tubes.

There is no such "Macro adapter". Macro is a concept on shooting small things and making them project into the sensor at approximately the same size as the object in front of the lens, so you can not adapt a "type" of photography.

What you have are diferent methods to make Macro photography (to focus on close objects)... (Ok. Let us call them all Macro adapters)

The ones that come to my mind are:

  • A truly macro lens (Normally it is the "sharpest" but more expensive option)

  • A zoom lens that can focus at very close range (relative to its focal length). This is labeled and sold as Macro, but comparing the result vs a "Truly" zoom lens is not as sharp.

  • A small lens in front of the normal lens (your first example)

  • Extension tubes using the same lens mount (Your second example)

  • A reverse lens ring adapter. This sockets into your camera on the body side and allows your normal lens to be used backwards. It can also have extension tubes.

  • A reverse lens over another lens adapter. You put another lens in front of a first one. You can do this even with sticky tape.

  • Bellows. It is similar to the extension tubes but using a bellow to control distances (and possibly planes, if the bellows includes tilt or swing motion of either the camera or lens mount)

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Well, arguably, all of these are in the general class "macro adapters" — they "adapt" your existing setup to better take macro photos. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok. I added a "give up" note n_n \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 14:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ So doesn't it (Raynox DCR-250) have a common name? \$\endgroup\$
    – user152435
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 19:41
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I think "close-up adapter" or "close-up filter" are probably the most common terms for diopter types, at least for selling purposes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 19:42
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Should probably also mention that "good" close-up adapters, such as the Raynox, will also be called "achromatic", comprising 2 elements back-to-back to correct chromatic and spatial distortions. Most of the negative things you hear about these adapters apply to the cheap single-element type. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 6:26

As mentioned by the other answers, the items in the video are extension tubes. From the answer to the question, What are Extension Tubes?,

They're a tube that fits between the lens and camera body to help with macro photography.

its sole purpose is to move the lens farther from the image plane. The farther away the lens is, the closer the focus, the greater the magnification

There is also loss of light so your aperture and/or exposure time will be affected.

You can buy ones specific to your camera that have electrical contacts that allow autofocusing etc to work, or generic ones that have no contacts and therefore force you to use manual focus.

See the Wikipedia article on extension tubes. Other questions on Photo.SE that are helpful to understanding extension tubes include:


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.