Testing a Macro-Effect lens filter

Cheap stuff that works is always cool! I ordered a “Macro Effect” lens filter from DealExtreme. What kind of Macro Photography can you do for $8.99?

I decided I wanted to photograph one of my Z-scale (1:220) Märklin steam engines. My objective: to find out what the printing on the side of the train is. When you look at the pictures below, remember that the whole train is about 80mm long.


All pictures are taken with Aperture F=10, ISO 100. Exposure times decided by the camera. RAW format was used but the pictures below are made JPEG-crappy with iPhoto.

Without Macro Effect filter
First are two pictures taken without the Macro Effect lens filter. These pictures are taken at roughly the shortest possible distance, using a suitable focal length.

55-250@163, 2 sec, ~110 cm from object

18-55@45, 2 sec, ~25 cm from object

I decided the pictures to be of roughly the same quality and I made a crop of the second one that shows the center part of the picture in native resolution (one RAW pixel corresponds to one JPEG pixel):

18-55@45, 2s, crop of details

This is the “macro capability” of the standard kit-lens. Not that crappy. However, I cant read those printings on the train. Note that the DB-logotype is 2 mm long, so the letters are really really tiny.

With Macro Effect filter
Now follows four pictures using the Macro Effect lens filter. Note that these pictures are taken from 10-20 cm away from the lens. Focal depth is extremely short (a few millimeters). If possible, it is easier to focus by moving the object rather than moving the focus wheel. Now the pictures:

55-250@250, 2.5 sec

55-250@135, 6 sec

55-250@70, 6 sec

18-55@55, 4 sec

At 250 mm there is no combination of focus and distance to object that creates a sharp picture. At 135mm there is some sharpness in the middle of the picture. At 70mm it does not look so bad and 55mm is sharp almost to the sides. Not however, that the focal depth is just a few millimeters. I decided to make a crop of the text details of the 55mm picture though:

18-55@55, 4 sec, crop of details

Now the characters are clearly readable! Other people can judge the artistic value of this 😉

The $8.99 Macro-Effect 10x lens filter does have some effect. It does amplify your object, giving you better Macro capability. You can use it with a 18-55mm EFS lens. However, with a 55-250mm lens things do not get sharp in most of the range. The macro limit of your camera gets much shorter with the Macro-Effect lens attached. Photographing without a tripod is very hard. Focal depths get close to 0.

For many purposes, a tripod, a good flash, and digital zoom will probably give you a better result than this Macro-Effect lens filter does.

It would be interesting to try a Macro Extension tube as well to see how it compares.

Leave a comment ?


  1. I really love the way this page is laid out. I think it is good. If you dont care me asking, what template is this site? Thanks.

  2. zBench 1.0.8, currently.

  3. Great post! Maybe you could do a follow up on this topic?

  4. Coming up 🙂

  5. Awesome share! Thank you very much 🙂

  6. so which one would you recomend? this filter or the extension tube? i already have the extension tube and thingking of buying the macro filter, but worried that the filter will produce same distortion on the edges like when i’m using the tube

  7. As I see it, if you have an extension tube, you have no reason to buy a cheap macro filter at all. Perhaps a less strong (2x, 4x) macro filter of higher quality than the one I tried is a decent option to the extension tube. A real macro lens is very nice though – and it works fine with the tube (better than normal lenses, my experience) if you want to get even closer.

  8. great post i’ve been searching for this information for a while as i have both those lenses. the other option is to reverse the lens – any experiene and opinions on this method?

  9. No, no experience reversing lenses.

  10. Id like to know how would u use a10x macro lens filter to a nikon d90…i know this is irrelevant …but need to know ur idea….am a newbie in photography and with this site…u clear my thoughts in focusing….but with the gift i rcvd an Opteka brand…cant have a clear view in a viewfinder..its blurred..is it in need of specific details for me to set???..pls help me…thanks!!!!

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