Diopters In Every Camera Bag


Diopters, also known as macro or close-up lenses. At most times, you may think you couldn’t be bothered with them, but honestly, they are some of the most useful accessories a Lomographer might need! And i am here to show you the reasons why.

Image source

A diopter is a small magnifying glass that screws on to the lens like a filter. They come in different versions, from plus 1, which is the weakest, to plus 10, the strongest. It’s possible to find very cheap sets online. I bought the cheapest one I could find, a set of four diopters: plus 1, plus 2, plus 4 and plus 10. To produce any steps you don’t have, you can screw the diopters together, i.e. 1 plus 2 = 3 and 2 plus 4 = 6. But if you use more than two diopters at once, you’ll probably get a bit of tunnel vision effect.

At the zoo. Zenit TTL with cross processed Lomography Color (35mm, 800 iso), pushed 2 stops.

A piece of good advice is to buy a set that fits the filter threads on your biggest lens (mine is 58mm), and use inexpensive step-down rings for your other cameras/lenses. For cameras without filter threads I just hold the diopter in front of the lens.

Botanicals. Holga 120n with various films.

When you’re using diopters, the depth of field becomes very shallow – the higher the the number of the diopter, the more shallow the depth of field. If you’re shooting with an SLR you can see whether or not the subject is in focus, so it’s no biggie. But with other cameras you need to know the right focus distance.

Sarah Joncas paintings on computer screen. Zenit TTL on cross processed Fuji Sensia (35mm, 400 iso)

With your camera set to focus on infinity:

diopter focus distance
+1 1m
+2 1/2m = 50cm
+3 1/3m = 33cm
+4 1/4m=25cm

… and so on. You get the picture, right?

Some people like to use a measuring tape or a piece of string tied around the lens with the distances marked out. Since I’m nothing of a perfectionist I just guesstimate.

Bettie Page on computer screen & The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman. Zenit TTL with cross processed Konica VX (35mm, 400 iso), pushed 2 stops.

With macro photography, it’s always important to have plenty of light. Shoot outdoors in bright sunlight (being careful not to block it), or use a flash, like the ringflash, that lights the subject from all angles.

Magazine & flowers. Canon EOS 300v & Holga 120n with cross processed Kodak Elitechrome EBX (35mm, 100 iso)

If it’s raining outside and you only have a crappy, regular flash, try using a pc flash cord and experiment with different angles of lighting – from above or from the side. If you just leave the flash in your camera’s hot shoe the lens will usually create a big fat shadow right where you wanted the light to go!

Sarah Joncas, Sylvia Ji, Angelique Houtkamp, Juxtapoz, Neil Gaiman

written by eggzakly on 2010-07-22 #gear #animals #review #close-up #redscale #bettie-page #accessory #sylvia-ji #double-exposure #juxtapoz #matt-leines #neil-gaiman #sarah-joncas #angelique-houtkamp #macros


  1. cyan-shine
    cyan-shine ·

    Great article!

  2. dogma
    dogma ·

    Nice love this review!

  3. paramir
    paramir ·

    great stuff! I am going to get me a set! thank you @eggzakly!

  4. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Excellent article!! Also you can stack them!!

  5. grady60
    grady60 ·

    is it possible to attach diopters to the Nikon d3000 DSLR?

  6. lageos
    lageos ·

    Great articel and amasing fotos!

  7. takeaphotoitlllastlonger
    takeaphotoitlllastlonger ·

    If the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over. :s

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