Lens Accessories for Nature Macro Photography
Subjects in the natural world have varying tendencies, requiring various photographic approaches. The lens or filter that enables you to get the close-up shot for one subject may not be appropriate for another.
For instance, a 50mm macro lens requires you to get very close to your subjects to capture a 1:1 magnification ratio. You can capture beautiful detailed shots of spiders in their webs with this lens, but a lizard isn’t likely to let you get close enough to do the same.
Instead, you need to use a lens (or lens accessories) that enables you to capture the same level of detail from farther away.
To diversify your macro and close-up abilities, you can carry multiple macro and close-up lenses (with varying focal lengths and magnification abilities) into nature with you. But doing so can be expensive and potentially heavy. Instead, bring accessories that enhance the abilities of your favorite lens.
Here is a list of the accessories to bring and the results they provide:
Tele-converters are secondary lenses that you place between the camera body and your lens. They increase the magnification of your subject without requiring you to move closer to the subject. Tele-converters are ideal for creating macro and close-up shots of subjects that scare easily, or those in hard-to-reach areas.
They come in varying magnification levels but cause aberrations (flaws in image sharpness) at higher levels. Keep in mind the higher the magnification, the lower the overall quality of sharpness in your image.
Extension tubes are hollow tubes that you fix between your camera body and lens. They enable you to achieve focus on subjects at closer distances. Because these don’t contain any glass optics, they don’t decrease image quality in the way that tele-converters do.
A 50mm extension tube combined with an ordinary 50mm lens can provide a 1:1 macro level of magnification. A 25mm extension tube combined with a 50mm lens provides up to a 1:2 (or half-size) magnification level.
You can combine an extension tube to your fixed macro lens to increase its magnification abilities to beyond 1:1 (or greater than life-size). Keep in mind that extension tubes require you to move in closer to your subjects in order to increase magnification.
Close-up lenses (or filters) are accessories that you can attach to the front of your lens. Similar to extension tubes, these enable you to achieve focus on your subjects at closer distances in order to increase magnification levels. Unlike extension tubes, however, close-up filters use glass optics and therefore decrease the quality of sharpness in your images. The greater the level of magnification, the less sharp your images will appear.
Reversing rings can increase a lens’s ability to create macro and close-up images. You use them to fix a reversed lens to your camera, altering the way the lens produces an image to the camera’s sensor. When reversing lenses, remember that reversed wide-angle lenses produce the most magnification, and reversed long lenses provide the most flexibility in magnification possibilities.