Thursday, 11 October 2007

Macro shots, Diopter Filters and Flowers in my Garden

I'm having so much fun with my new camera! I'm able to take shots like never before and sure, I'm still learning how to get the most out of the camera, but I think my photos have improved tremendously.

I was brought up to believe the old proverb - "A poor workman blames his tools". But it must be said that having the proper equipment greatly improves things! Then again, I don't want to or rather can't run down my trusty Powershot that gave me great pictures for the last 6 years. However, one thing the Powershot couldn't do very well is take close up or macro pictures. More often than not, I had to stand far away and zoom in - sometimes even resorting to digital zoom and thus sacrificing resolution.

My 400D takes amazing close up shots - even with a flash. The flash adjusts itself by using TTL (Through the Lens) metering and adjusting the amount of flash required. This means that I don't get glary shots or flares.

I was contemplating getting a macro lens to improve my closeup picture taking. Unfortunately, after spending a bomb on my 400D, I can't quite afford the macro lens yet. What I did decide to do was to spend a 100 bucks (that's in Ringgit) on a diopter filter. A whatopter? A Diopter.

Basically, this is a magnifying glass type of filter that greatly magnifies the object. (That's why it's called a magnifying filter!)These filters are measured in diopters, and funnily enough are the reason they are called dipoter filters. (Okay, okay, I'll stop trying to be funny)

Diopter Filters come in +1, +2, +3, +4 and +10 and the diopter indicates the refractive capacity of the lens. What this means, quite simply, is that the higher the diopter, the greater the magnification. You also have negative diopters - for reduction obviously.

Magnification and diopters are related through this simple formula

magnification = dipoters/4 + 1

This means that a +2 diopter filter will give a magnification of 1.5 based on this calculation

magnification = 2/4 + 1
= .5 + 1
= 1.5

I bought a +4 Diopter filter so using the same formula above, I get a x2 magnification.

Bear in mind that a diopter filter only magnifies at a close distance, unlike a zoom lens. Just like a magnifying glass only works at a close distance and if you looked at an object a distance away, it would be all blurry.

As a result, using Diopter filters means that your depth of field is severely restricted and becomes very, very shallow. You may also find that your autofocus doesn't quite work as well. Neither does the flash metering, so the best is to use good light for diopter shots - and macro shots in general. Increasing the aperture number (i.e a narrow aperture) can also give you slightly more Depth of Field.

All the pictures you see here have been taken with a +4 Diopter Filter at Close-Up mode on my Canon 400D. I love it!


DaviMack said...

I went the same way - with a good 3x filter I get pretty close to what I'd get with a macro lens ... but tell me: how well does it do with autofocus & that filter? I'm using a Canon EOS Elan 7E (35mm film), and it doesn't seem to be able to handle the filter as far as focus goes - it can't track things very well at all, so I end up manually focusing. It's not just the lens, either, as I've tried it on a Canon, Sigma, and Tamron lens as well, and it just doesn't like focusing through that filter.

Congrats, though! I'm looking at it ... and haven't made the leap yet.

Dharm said...

The diopter I use gives me a x2 magnification. You're right about the autofocus, when its real close, the camera has trouble with autofocusing. However, all the shots shown were autofocus. I just need to pull back a bit ( as in not get in so close) and it autofocuses fine. Same problem withouth the closeup filter too if I get in too close....

DaviMack said...

Ahh. Well, I like to get in & photograph things like the flowers of moss (it does have flowers), so I end up putting that 3x on top of a 200mm lens, at about 1" distance from the subject. That makes for quite a bit of a problem. :)

Why'd you decide on the 40D, by the way? I'm considering the Rebel XTi, because it's more than 1/2 the price, for the same megapixel resolution ... what motivated you to go the other way?

DaviMack said...

Sorry - I read back over & noticed that you said 400D, which is the Rebel XTi. I thought you were talking about the EOS 40D, which runs about 3x the price.

Dharm said...

yes, I have the 400D which is known as the Rebel Xti in the US. I was tossing up between the Canon 400D and the Nikon D40X. If you already have a bunch of Canon lenses, then this is a no brainer and go with the Rebel Xti. I personally just LOVE it!!!


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