The Raynox DCR-150 and its more powerful brother Raynox DCR-250 Macro Attachment are snap on Macro diopters that increase the magnification of a standard lens. They both fit have a universal mount that will clip on to any lens with a diameter of 52-67mm. The Raynox DCR-150 has a magnification factor of 1.5X where as the Raynox DCR-250 Macro Attachment has a magnification factor of 2.5X. I will primarily be reviewing the Raynox DCR-150 in this review however it is safe to assume that many of my comments will be valid for the more powerful Raynox DCR-250.
What is Macro Photography?
True Macro in a photography sense means 1:1 magnification so essentially it means that if something is 5mm in size it should appear as 5mm on your cameras sensor. The Raynox DCR-150 acts as a magnifying glass for what ever lens you choose to put it on, so it may or may not get to 1:1 magnification, however at around US $50 (Feb 2012) it is a great cheap way of getting into close up photography.
Ease of Use
The Raynox DCR-150 just clips onto the front of your lens, so in that sense it is incredible simple to use. That does not mean it is easy, the DCR-150 is simplicity personified however it does not make Macro Photography easy. The biggest difficulty when working very close with large magnifications is that your Depth of Focus is very shallow; this means that the amount of the image that is pin sharp is very shallow. It is easy to see this in the image I posted above of the wasp staring at the camera, whilst the head and eyes are nicely in focus the antennae rapidly fall into the area of fuzzy focus, this is at a depth of just 7/8mm. This is not specific to the Raynox DCR-150 just clips onto the front of your lens, so in that sense it is incredible simple to use. That does not mean it is easy, the DCR-150 it is just a by product of Macro Photography and decreasing your aperture size, that is making the F-Stop number bigger you increase your depth of field. It will still be very shallow though and this makes focusing tricky more difficult, the DCR-150 does have an advantage over cheap extension tubes that you buy all over the internet though and that is it maintains our cameras ability to auto focus, although the trade is that you have another piece of glass in front of your lens which does degrade the image quality a little. Having said that as you can see from the images I have posted in this review it is capable of producing some great images, the image below is stretching the lens to its maximum and even then I had to focus stack 3 images to get the image but it is an image of sufficient quality to meet the submission criteria for stock photography sites and also sell a few too.
One of the greatest aspects of this type of Macro Diopter is its versatility, whilst I use mine on a range of lenses that I use on my Canon 450D DSLR I purchased it to use on my canon s3 bridge camera, in fact if your camera has a pop out zoom lens with a diameter of 52mm-67mm then this lens will be operate quite happily clipped to the front. You do lose the option to focus to infinity but given that it is incredibly simple to clip on and clip off the front of your lens you could be happily snapping away at a glorious landscape one minute and the next be on all fours chasing around a ladybird in the grass! Other close up filters require you to screw them in to the thread on the front of your lens which can be difficult on a cold day and obviously if you have lenses with different diameter you need to buy either more filters or step down rings, which again is a compromise too far!
Hints and Tips
Lighting very quickly becomes problematic when working at a macro level so in that sense this diopter is no different, when you start using smaller apertures like f16 very little light gets to the sensor of the camera so you need a way to help things along a little. You have 3 options:
- Increase your ISO which has the consequential effect of increasing noise
- Leave the shutter open for longer, so use a tripod
- Add Flash, beware of using that flash on the top of your camera it is invariably rubbish
I usually opt for option 3, I use a cheap manual flash with some cheap Wireless Flash Triggers and try and bounce my Flash off a piece of card or a reflective Umbrella to stop it being quite so harsh. But the image of the globe in the water droplet was done in studio conditions so I could get away with an 8 second exposure.
I have been in love with this little thing ever since I started using it a couple of years ago, sure I could get better results with a dedicated Macro lens or even a set of Extension tubes but all of those come at a significantly higher cost. This thing has produced loads of images that I am very proud of and given the fact that I have sold many of these images through stock photography outlets it has undoubtedly made me more money than I paid for it. I use it for a whole host of images and not just to get maximum magnification, sometimes I want that very shallow depth of focus and my slower lenses do not deliver and it works wonders for getting that little bit closer for taking photographs of food. If you are looking for a great fun way of getting a little bit closer with your photographs and have either a bridge camera or an SLR with lenses of a diameter between 52mm and 67mm then for US $50 (Feb 2012) I can't think of another competitor for this little gem, the words cheap and photography rarely sit well together but in this case it certainly does!