I’ve always been a fan of macro photography (aka really close pictures of things) so when I got my Nikon one of the first kinds of lenses I looked into was a macro lens. Unfortunately, they are quite expensive, costing more than my D40 kit alone.
So that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. Fortunately I read about a possible inexpensive solution on the Flickr discussion groups. A company called Bower makes a kit of close up lenses that screw onto the filter ring of most cameras and seemed to provide pretty decent results. I was able to track a kit down on eBay for about $25 delivered which is a lot cheaper than a $700+ macro lens.
The kit consists of three separate lens (really just clear filters) that have different magnifications on them: +1, +2 and +4. The cool part is that you can attach them to each other and vary the level of magnification up to +7. The filters come in an old school faux leather pouch with red velvet-like lining. This actually fits quite nicely in my camera bag.
The downside (or upside depending on your perspective) with these filters is their very shallow depth of field. This can give a very cool result but it is harder to capture as you have to physically move the camera closer (or further) to the subject in order to get it in focus. I’ve also found that the camera’s autofocus has trouble locking on at +7 since it’s so shallow.
That said, I’m extremely happy with the results I’m getting with these filters and they are completely worth the money if you’re looking for an alternative to spending the big bucks on a macro lens.
My next step is to start playing around more with HDR and maybe even photoshopping some of my images with different effects like cross-processing…check out my friend Duane’s photography site for some great examples of his work along with some how-to’s. So much to experiment with and so little time to do it in.