Close-up Photography with a Canon 250D

First published on: Thursday, 20 September 2007

Here’s a short piece from me about using a Nikon D70, Nikkor 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G lens, and a Canon 250D close-up filter to photograph a pesky grasshopper (no, I didn’t squash it later).

Close-up filters are useful for close-up photography because they allow you to go closer to a subject. You’ll notice that all lenses have their own particular closest-focusing distance, beyond which you simply cannot focus on the subject.

Screwing a closeup filter onto the front of your lens lets you reduce the distance between the front element of the lens and the subject, thus giving you higher magnification.

There are better articles out there explaining how close-up filters work — I’ll point out some of them:

Anyway, my intention on writing this is to show you, with photos, how simple this setup works, and an idea of the differences in magnification with and without the use of the filter.

Here’s a photo of the pest without the use of a filter. With the 28-200mm G lens zoomed out all the way to 200mm, the bug looks this big in the frame:

Grasshopper, without close-up filter

This one is with the filter attached to the front of the lens — if we’re talking macro photos, it’s nowhere close to blowing you to the back of your chair, but we at least get to see the pest a little bigger in the viewfinder:

Grasshopper, with close-up filter

Many years back, I couldn’t imagine what a closeup filter looks like despite reading a huge number of forum posts and articles that talk about it. If you’re in a similar position now, perhaps the following two photos will help. (By the way, it must be said that it’s easier to get great colors in photos taken with the Pentax K10D than from my D70 — I’ll see if I can write up about this in the near future)

Here’s the closeup filter sitting pretty next to my Nikon D70 plus 28-200 lens:

Hoya +4 next to the D70 plus Nikkor 28-200mm lens

I screw the closeup filter onto the lens, and take another picture, like this:

Hoya +4 screwed onto the front of the lens

OK, what I’ve not mentioned so far is that both the grasshopper photos above were taken with a $15, cheapo Hoya +4 closeup filter. If you look real closely at the photos produced with this filter, you’ll notice traces of chromatic aberration and a little softness as you go toward the edges.

If you like your closeups as sharp as possible, then the Canon 250D (or 500D) closeup filters come very, extremely and highly recommended. I don’t own this piece, but a close buddy of mine had dropped of his entire Pentax K10D system with me, and what do you know, there’s a 250D in the camera bag!

The 250D employs two achromatic elements in its construction, which accounts for the total lack of CA in the pics. It comes in 52mm and 58mm thread sizes — the one I used for this session was the 52mm unit. This will screw perfectly onto lenses like the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D AF, but because my 28-200 has a 62mm filter thread size, I had to gingerly hold the 250D against the front element of the lens in order to take the photos.

Like the Hoya +4, the 250D has the same +4 diopter strength.

This is what the 250D packaging looks like, folks — all the pieces put together just oozes quality:

Canon 250D package

We now present the Hoya +4 filter that I’ve lived with since 2003 — I have no further comments about the quality of the packaging — you get what you pay for:

Hoya +4 package

You can really see the difference in thickness between the two in this side-by-side comparison of the Canon 250D vs Hoya +4:

Canon 250D vs Hoya +4 -- side-by-side

Next in order are two photos, which really came from one NEF (RAW) file.

This version is before post-processing. It was a straight conversion from NEF to highest quality JPEG in Nikon Capture NX. Clicking on the image allows you view the photo at Original size — prepare thy bandwidth:

Grasshopper photo without adjustments

This version below is after I’ve done a curve adjustment to the RGB and Red Channel in Nikon Capture NX. The intention is to boost the contrast and reduce the reddish tint in the original picture:

Grasshopper photo with adjustments done in Nikon Capture NX

The screenshot of the curve adjustment I did in Capture NX is as follows:

Nikon Capture NX adjustments made to the grasshopper photo

No other adjustments were made. One reason why I didn’t need to do any sharpening was because the D70 was put into Direct Print mode which implements a Medium High sharpening, and I felt that the image was sharp enough as it is.

Below are links to full-sized NEF and JPEG files for those who wish to embark on a little pixel-peeping journey.

In conclusion, a 250D filter on a lens with a 200mm focal length is sufficient for capturing sharp pictures of bugs on flowers, but won’t satisfy those who’re after big, in-your-face, macro shots.

If you’re still with me, you might like to read an article of mine about using stacked lenses for macros with super-high magnifications.


Official Canon USA store page for the 58mm Canon 250D.


Canon Accessories — Main page.

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