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Closer solutions


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

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Closer solutions

2 Apr 2021 9:17AM   Views : 251 Unique : 179


Under my work table, right next to my leg as I type, is a big cardboard box that I hadn’t looked in for maybe 13 years until a few days ago. It’s full of things that I decided I don’t need very often, so while some may be thinking ‘skip’ and ‘hoarder’ I feel a glow of satisfaction at the excellence of my judgment.

Various things in there, some of them probably worthy of a blog some time – as was the first thing out: a leatherette case a couple of inches across and an inch and a half thick, which turned out to contain a Hoya Zoom Close-Up Lens. It’ll be one of those things found in an ‘all items £1 or £2’ box in a camera shop 20 years ago, and never got round to using.


A ring at the back unscrews with a left-handed thread to allow you to change the camera lens fitting: I don’t have a spare one, but the 55mm thread ring that’s attached fits a lot of my older lenses, so I couldn’t resist trying a few shots (I used it with an 85mm f/2.8 Sonnar attached to an Alpha 7 with a cheap adaptor).

Downside: even with the long focus lens, the device will get you uncomfortably close to the subject – the zoom is calibrated by distance, from around half a metre to 0.1 metre. Apart from the awful quality of any extreme closeup lens (the now-common 4-lens sets typically include a +10 Dioptre which brings you as close, and is just as blessed with aberrations), this is as uncomfortably close as fellow-travellers on the London Underground in a 2019 rush hour, and the camera and lens get in the way of the light.


If you want to shoot this close with any regularity, extension tubes, bellows and a macro lens will be useful and vastly more convenient. Many macro lenses are long focus, and part of the reason for this is that having the camera further from the subject means it’s not in the way. The Yashica dental lens (it really exists – there can’t be many around, though) was 200mm so that images of back teeth didn’t actually require the dentist to put a lens and ringflash inside the patient’s mouth to shoot molars…


But if you just fancy some fun, and pictorial results, there are plenty of these lenses on eBay for around £10-£15. Actually, make me an offer, and make Mrs D happy…


dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1832 England
2 Apr 2021 9:18AM
For clarity: I don't own the Yashica lens, sadly. I do own, and will happily part with the Hoya zoom close-up gadget!
philtaylorphoto 19 334 2
3 Apr 2021 4:22PM
I used to have a Sigma 105 macro in my food photography days, but when that ended I flogged it.

Recently I realised I needed a 'just in case' close up gadget. It's not every day you need to do macro work in my field, but something might have cropped up.

My solution was a cheap pair of Viltrox extension tubes. Build quality is in Kinder Egg novelty level, but they work just fine. First job out was a fish, chip and mushy pea pie that made half a page in national papers. Teamed with an 85mm f1.8 Canon it's not as good as a 'real' macro, but I don't think pixel peeping is a picture desk essential.

Sometimes cheap and cheerful is what's needed. I'm sure for that one off job these would do just fine. My Bronica ETRSi used to have a +1 close up for just those occasions, a bellows and macro would never have paid for itself.

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