I was offered a chance to test the new NiSi Close Up Lens so I decided to try it out and do a review of it. I’ve not used close up lenses or filters too much in the past so it was interesting to see how well this would perform compared to dedicated macro lenses.
The close up lens itself comes in a padded case that can be closed with a zipper. When I first took the lens and held it in my hand I was surprised of the high quality feel it has. Somehow I’ve always thought that these kind of filters and lenses seemed a bit cheap but this one seemed to be nicer than that. It’s made from a thick piece of glass and reminds a lot of a real lens or part of it – it’s almost like a front element of my Nikon 70-200.
In addition to the case and the lens there’s also two adapters included: 67mm to 77mm and 72mm to 77mm. As the close up lens is 77mm it fitted straight to my 70-200 lens.
Using it on a telephoto zoom lens
Firstly I fitted the close up lens on my trusty Nikon 70-200mm lens to see how much it affects the focusing distance. This lens has nice zoom range so you can compose the images quite freely. As you can see from the image below you get proper macro distances with it. Normally 70-200mm minimum focusing distance is about 1.4 meters but with the close up lens it shortens to about 50 cm.
It was also nice to see that background blurs nicely. Of course the depth of field narrows quite a bit so it’s better to use smaller apertures. Here I used quite big aperture of ƒ/5 just to get most of the one hanging Dandelion seed in focus. See the comparison of images below how much there’s difference in minimum focusing distance with and without the close up lens.
Shooting with different apertures
Next I adjusted the focal length a bit back to 130mm and used small aperture of ƒ/10 (see the comparison image of the Buttercup flower).
These Buttercups are quite small but you can fill the frame nicely when the close up lens is attached. Notice that there’s also more of the subject in focus because of the smaller aperture I used.
However, I usually like to use really shallow depth of field in my images so I shot some Buttercups also with ƒ/4 and longer focal lengths. You just have to move the camera back and forth and take a bunch of images to get right areas in the focus. I recommend also shooting from different angles if you want to use wider aperture and give a artistic soft look for the image. This way you’ll get the subject in focus as much as possible. It’s always easier to use smaller apertures but then you need to also crank up the ISO or get more light. Smaller aperture tends to give you also more sharper details.
Using it on a macro lens
After testing the close up lens on a normal telephoto zoom lens I wanted to see how it works on a regular macro lens. I’ve usually used normal prime lenses reverse attached to a macro lens which gives you a greater magnification. Same principle applies also for this close up lens because it acts as magnifier. In the end the extra magnification is not that huge but it will get you a bit closer to the subject.
I was surprised to see that my notion of close up lenses and filters proved to be wrong – at least in this case. It’s a bit soft when shooting wide open at longer focal lengths but stopping down gives more sharpness which you would do anyway if you want the subject to be more in focus. When pricing is 139 USD it’s a really affordable alternative for a regular macro lens that can cost several hundred bucks. NiSi Close Up Lens is a great choice and stepping stone for any beginner in macro photography. And if it gets you more interested you can always invest in a dedicated macro lens later. See the gallery below for additional images.