This week’s photo is a bit different from most of the pictures I have posted here on Weekly Fifty over the years. It’s the result of some experimenting I have been doing lately with a set of close-up filters. These, to be precise. Ever since my cousin Beth got an Olloclip which basically turned her iPhone into a macro photography machine I have wanted a similar solution for my DSLR. Unfortunately, actual macro lenses range in price from “Impractical” to “Not a chance” for most hobbyist photographers like myself, so until recently I basically found myself left out of the close-up photography party altogether. I had investigated various solutions like extension tubes and lens reversing rings, but they all seemed kind of expensive and more than a bit impractical for someone who just wants to play around with macro-style photography on occasion. I had heard of close-up filters before but never given them much thought until I realized that, for just about the cost of a pizza or two I could at least get something that would let me try this type of photography. If it worked, great! If not, no big deal. So I bought a set and kept my expectations low.

My goodness, were they ever exceeded. By a very long shot.

I explain more about what close-up filters do and how they work in an article I recently published on Digital Photography School, but the gist of it is they let you use any regular lens to focus on things that are super close. Super duper close, to be honest. The pocket watch you see above is about the size of a silver dollar in real life, but it filled the entire frame of the picture thanks to a +10 filter that I attached to my 50mm lens. It’s kind of unreal how well these little screw-on filters work for taking non-professional good-enough macro shots, and after using them for a while now I can confidently recommend them to anyone who is looking for something new and fun to try.*

On a side note, this watch was the one I wore when my wife and I got married just over ten years ago which is one reason I’m using it as this week’s picture. It’s sort of a commemoration, if you will. My three brothers served as my groomsmen and we all had identical pocket watches, and even though I don’t exactly wear mine on a regular basis I like to take it out from time and reflect on that special day. Of course I have plenty of other tangible reminders of my wedding day around me constantly, but it’s fun to get out special objects, totems, and trinkets like this from time to time (har!) as they help conjure up fond moments from days gone by in a unique way. It sure has been an incredible decade, and if my wife is reading this, I love you and our two little boys so very much. Thank you for being my beautiful bride, and here’s to many many more years of being your hubsand :)

*If you do want to purchase some filters, make sure they fit your lens. Check the thread diameter on your lens first, which will likely be something like 52mm or 58mm, and then get filters that will fit that size.


  1. Nice photo. When I tinker with macro, I tend to get frustrated with the shallow depth of field. The solution for me has been to try to bump up ambient light when possible and add flash and shoot with as narrow of an aperture as possible. I appreciate how carefully you place your in-focus area.

    • I have a set of Macro Filters that I love to play with. They do give incredibly narrow slices of focus. I will have to try the flash.

      • For best depth of focus, make sure that you have the plane of the object parallel to the plane of the sensor.

    • I know what you mean William. I have discovered in the last few months just how finicky the depth of field can be when shooting up close, especially at wide apertures. I like your idea to use flash as a way to add a bit more light and thus use smaller apertures. I think I’m going to give that a try :)

  2. Quote: “extension tubes and lens reversing rings, but they all seemed kind of expensive”.
    On E-Bay, I paid $23 for a set of tubes and $3 for the reversing ring to fit my Canon 7D.

    • Interesting, Chris. I didn’t think of checking eBay for extension tubes, but perhaps I should have. Thanks for the tip :)

  3. urodoc45 says

    Thank you Simon for an inspirational article. I recently joined our local photography club and the 1st meeting I attended, they critiqued Macro/Micro photography which I found very interesting. I completely agree with your statement that Macro lenses are unaffordable for casual user. I went ahead and bought a set of Hoya close up filters and certainly plan to experiment. Thank you for a money saving article.

    • No problem! I’m glad you enjoyed the article and I am sure you will like shooting with those filters. I sure do :) Maybe you could take some of your shots to the photography club and see if they can guess that you aren’t using expensive lenses but cheap filters!

  4. Camellia says

    Simon, your post couldn’t have come at a more timely manner. I too have been looking at tinkering with macro photography. I am an avid Amazon shopper and have had the “Savage Macro Art Variable Auto-Extension Tube” in my saved for later cart forever…just didn’t want to spend all that money and then not really use it. But your post of the filters ( which up until now I had not heard of) gives me the opportunity to play with macro without braking the bank. Thank you for helping me out.

    • I’m so glad this was helpful Camellia! I’m sure that Savage Art extension tube would be a quality product, but I think you’ll find that you can get good results with a much cheaper set of filters :) If you do get them I’d love to see some of the shots you are able to take!

  5. My daughter gave me a set of those filters for Christmas, I have played with them a bit, but should really take a week or so and play with them more. Definitely a lot less expensive than a macro lens!

    • That sounds cool, Yvonne! I’m sure you will have fun with them if you do get the time to test them out a bit more, and I’d love to see any pictures you are able to get with them :)

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