An Inexpensive Camera Macro Lens

You don't need expensive equipment to take close-up photos.

| May/June 1984


A camera macro lens is ideal for nature photos.


If you read nature or science magazines, you've probably marveled at the incredible close-up photos that professionals take of tiny insects, flowers, printed circuits, and a myriad of other minuscule subjects. Those pictures were shot with a camera macro lens, which is designed to cast a magnified—or close-up—image onto film.

Macro lenses are sold in a wide range of focal lengths, with mounts to fit just about any single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera ever made. The devices vary in power and other features, but all have one thing in common: They're expensive. If you're a pro—or rich—you might be able to justify the cost. But for those of us with limited funds who simply want to dabble in close-up photography, multi hundred-dollar price tags don't make sense.

As an alternative, camera shops sell somewhat more economical (and less effective) items called "supplementary close-up lenses" or "plus lenses". Basically, they're magnifying glasses that you screw directly onto a regular lens, just as you would a photographic filter. But even those accessories can cost upwards of $30 . . . and that's a lot more than you'll need to put together my homemade "macro/close-up" lens!

A Simple Camera Macro Lens

Believe it or not, to make this camera attachment you'll need only [1] a small, round 2X to 4X magnifying glass about 1 3/4" in diameter (be sure to get one with a glass lens, as plastic isn't good enough for your purposes) ... [2] a PVC slip-ring pipe adapter (1 1/2" PVC to 1 1/2" male) . . . and [3] a can of flat-black spray paint.