Hoya Macro Filter Review

I have enjoyed trying my hand at macro photography.  It is really fun to me to try and get really close up shots of common things.  In the past, sometimes they would come out spectacular, and sometimes they would not.  One major issue I used to experience is that I just have a standard 18-200 lens, not a macro lens.  The reason this is an issue is that a typical lens cannot focus when you get close to an object - it just won’t recognize it.  I didn’t know that.  I had spent most of my time shooting HDR and landscapes, so it was never an issue.  I quickly discovered that I always had to be 12-15 inches (or more) away from the object, which in some cases made it not exactly a macro, but something of a “tweener”.  Although I guess it depends on how you define macro.  

Anyways, I looked into macro lenses and quickly discovered that they are expensive!  The one I had my eye on is something like $500!  So, I started giving it second thoughts and figuring I could just get by without it, because I couldn’t see the benefit of spending $500 on a lens that I would mostly use for fun.

So recently I was in my local camera store, oogling stuff I want (like a Nikon D300s) and a wide angle lens, when I happened to ask the guy about macro lenses.  Not exactly being an expert on these things, I figured maybe the $500 lens I had looked at before was the wrong one and I would be surprised to find the right one for $200.  Well, I was wrong, or right, depending on how you view it.  In other words, the $500 lens was the right one, so I quickly dropped that idea (again).

But then he asked me if I had tried the Hoya Macro Filters.  What?  What the heck is that?  He told me there are filters that give “macro-like” closeup performance at a fraction of the price.  Really?  He got out a set and let me demo it in the store...impressive!!  I was excited, and the best part was that they were something like $80.  So, I snapped up the set and walked out a happy man.  So far, I am loving them and having a great time using them too.

I can now get just a couple of inches away from my subject to shoot it!  It feels like a real macro (and it’s as close as I am getting anytime soon).  The set I bought comes with 3 lens filters:  +1, +2 and +4.  You just screw them onto the front filter thread of your normal lens.  It’s that easy!  Plus, it is way easier and lighter than lugging another lens around!

Each represents a factor of magnification, so the +1 is the least and the +4 is the most.  Here’s the cool part: you can “stack” them so that you can get even more magnification out of it.  They just screw together.  When you stack them it is like a 7x magnification.  Awesome stuff!  

One disclaimer from my experience:  when you have them all stacked you do get a little distortion or something around the edges.  It looks like a slight vignette is applied to the image - essentially it is a little dark at the corners.  But if you can work around that then you are in good shape.  

Here is what they look like:

By the way, here is a recent shot I took using all three stacked for a 7x magnification.  I was around 2-3 inches away when I took this shot.  I thought it came out great, and it is way closer than I can get with my standard 18-200 lens.  You can see the vignette that I mentioned above.  It does not bother me, at least it hasn't yet, and in this shot I actually like it.  I guess you could always crop it out too if you wanted to.

Hope this helps and thanks for stopping by!  Here are a couple more shots that were done with these filters: