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Using Close-Up Filters for Macro Photography by Stephanie Bryan

How to Use Close-up Filters for Macro Photography by Stephanie Bryan on Shoot It With Film
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How to Use Close-up Filters for Macro Photography by Stephanie Bryan on Shoot It With Film

Written by Stephanie Bryan

I’m always looking for a way to get creative with photography and film, and my newest obsession is close-up filters for my cameras! Close-up filters do exactly what the name implies – they let you get UP CLOSE and personal with your subject! (Find close-up filters on Amazon)

How to Use Close-up Filters for Macro Photography on Shoot It With Film
How to Use Close-up Filters for Macro Photography on Shoot It With Film
How to Use Close-up Filters for Macro Photography on Shoot It With Film
How to Use Close-up Filters for Macro Photography on Shoot It With Film
How to Use Close-up Filters for Macro Photography on Shoot It With Film
How to Use Close-up Filters for Macro Photography by Stephanie Bryan on Shoot It With Film

What Are Close-up Filters?

Close up filters work as a secondary lens which attaches to your main camera lens and allows closer focusing of your subject (think macro photography)!

How to Use Close-up Filters for Macro Photography by Stephanie Bryan on Shoot It With Film

As you probably know, all lenses have a minimum focal distance and will only allow you to grab focus at a certain distance. With the use of close up filters, you can do just that – get closer to your subject and decrease the minimum focal distance. These filters work by magnifying your subject (just like a magnifying glass), but they don’t necessarily filter or change the light coming in to your lens.

I’ve read that close up filters do not create images with the same quality as dedicated macro lenses, but for my use, they have been amazing. Think of these filters as a great and inexpensive way to try out macro photography!

How to Use Close-up Filters for Macro Photography by Stephanie Bryan on Shoot It With Film

Tips for Using Close-up Filters:

  • Look for filters that fit the thread size of your lens
    • Check your camera’s lens for the thread size to make sure you purchase the correct size filters for your lens. Look for the diameter printed on the lens (58mm, 72mm, etc…).
  • Opt for glass filters vs. plastic
    • Any filter that fits your camera’s lens will likely work well, but I recommend glass filters for their higher quality and durability. I use Hoya filters for my Pentax 645n and 75mm lens and Polaroid filters for my Canon lenses. (Find Hoya Close-up Filters and Polaroid Close-up Filters on Amazon)
How to Use Close-up Filters for Macro Photography by Stephanie Bryan on Shoot It With Film
  • Turn your camera to manual focusing
    • I find it easier to manually focus when using the close up filters. Since the distance to your subject is a lot closer than normal, trying to grab focus using autofocus is often challenging (and these filters don’t work like a normal macro lens where you are able to focus on subjects/objects both closer and further away). Since you have to get super close to your subject, switching to manual focus will make using the filters much easier!
How to Use Close-up Filters for Macro Photography by Stephanie Bryan on Shoot It With Film
  • Use your body to find your focal point instead of adjusting the focus ring
    • I like to lean my body towards and away from my subject when trying to grab focus (vs. manually focusing with the focal ring). I keep my eye on whatever it is I want in focus and then slightly rock back and forth to find the sweet spot.
  • Stack the filters for an even closer focus
    • For even great magnification, stack the filters on top of each other! This is a great way to add some detailed shots to a client gallery!
How to Use Close-up Filters for Macro Photography by Stephanie Bryan on Shoot It With Film

Thank you so much, Stephanie! To see more of Stephanie’s work, be sure to visit her on her website and Instagram! Stephanie also hosts an amazing online film workshop called the Film Love Workshop where you can learn all kinds of info about shooting film. And be sure to use the code ILOVEFILM for 20% off the workshop!

You can also check out Stephanie’s other Shoot It With Film articles here, including an article on how to shoot Kodak ColorPlus 200!

Leave your questions about close-up filters below in the comments, and pick some up for yourself on Amazon here!

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