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Lenses that attach like filters

They look like filters, but are really lenses


Close-up filters are not filters at all since they don't have the effect on light that filters do. They are really simple lenses that attach to your lens to magnify the image.
Close-up filters are not filters at all since they don't have the effect on light that filters do. They are really simple lenses that attach to your lens to magnify the image.

A number of small lenses attach to the camera’s normal lenses in the same manner as do filters, and because of this, they are sometimes categorized along with filters for discussion purposes and in camera shop displays. They do not function as filters at all, having none of the effects on light that filters do, but they do change the manner in which standard lenses focus.

CLOSE-UP LENS

The close-up lens is a single (sometimes a double) element lens that looks like a clear filter and either screws onto the front of a camera’s lens (round shape) or is attached in a groove as part of a filter system (square shape). It really is a magnifying glass for your lens. It enables focusing on subjects that are closer than the standard lens’ minimum focusing distance, permitting, for example, close-up photography of insects, coins or other very small subjects. It is particularly useful with longer focal-length lenses that don't focus much closer than around four feet or so.

The close-up lens is single-purpose, and must be removed when focusing on subjects that are not within its limited focusing distance. Close-up lenses are available in varying strengths of magnification, typically +1, +2, +3, +4 and greater. The higher the number, the closer you can focus on a subject. Double element close-up lenses are generally better quality.

Its depth of field is very small, requiring the photographer to set the aperture of the standard lens to its smallest opening to maximize the close-up lens’ effectiveness. Depth of field decreases the closer you get to the subject. The best focusing method is to set the standard lens at infinity and then move the camera back and forth until the tiny subject is in focus.


SPLIT-FIELD LENS

This is a variation of a close-up lens, having half of its area clear so that a lens’ normal focusing functions properly while the other half is a close-up lens. It is a tool for trick photography, permitting both a very close foreground object and a distant background to be in focus in the same image. The transition zone between the two halves is slightly-blurred, requiring careful composition to de-emphasize it - usually along a horizon line. Aperture setting and focusing are handled in the same manner as for a close-up lens.

This split-field lens has a lens in one half and nothing in the other side - literally nothing - you could poke your finger through it.
This split-field lens has a lens in one half and nothing in the other side - literally nothing - you could poke your finger through it.

The multi-image lens (or variable prism) has two elements on a double ring mount. The top portion rotates, creating different multi-image effects.
The multi-image lens (or variable prism) has two elements on a double ring mount. The top portion rotates, creating different multi-image effects.

MULTI-IMAGE LENS

This is a multi-faceted lens, usually made of polished optical glass, that results in numerous identical images of the subject appearing in the same picture. There are several patterns available. Depending on the unit used, the number of identical images in the same frame can be 5, 7, 13 or 25. The main subject, which must be in center-frame since the areas surrounding it become displaced by the multi-images, is generally in sharper focus than its many reproductions. Focal lengths that work best with this device are between 50 mm and 105 mm. Aperture setting will alter the appearance of the images, and apertures from ƒ5.6 to ƒ11 are recommended to avoid flare. This lens is also known as a "variable prism" and as a "multi-vision" lens.


MULTI-IMAGE VARIATIONS

Variations in design of the multi-image lens result in different effects. The parallel multi-image lens, for instance, causes objects to appear to be in motion, with the main subject being clear and its several reproductions spreading across the image in a step-like manner, with one behind the other. Aperture settings and focal length requirements are the same as for the standard multi-image lens.

MIRROR ATTACHMENTS

At least one filter maker produces what is known as a mirage-effect filter that uses a mirror (or prism-like) component to reproduce a portion of the scene as a reflection of itself, like a double-imaged face card in a deck of playing cards or like a reflection in a smooth-surfaced lake. The mirror’s angle is adjustable to allow for creativity in its use. The effect can be quite dramatic, since the subject can be made to appear to be floating in the air or to have a mirage of it in the foreground. The device must be attached as close as possible to the front element of the lens and a small aperture is necessary for the best effect.

This effect is caused by a multi-image lens that produces five images of the object in the center..
This effect is caused by a multi-image lens that produces five images of the object in the center..

This exemplary multi-image picture of Thomas the cat was submitted by photographer Mark Arnold. Click on the image for the full story.
This exemplary multi-image picture of Thomas the cat was submitted by photographer Mark Arnold. Click on the image for the full story.

Further information...

Thomas' story