Filter Factor Exposure Adjustment Required

2X +1 stop

4X +2 stops

8X +3 stops

16X +4 stops

Here are typical filter factors for common black-and-white filters. Note that they can vary widely with the density of the color and the manufacturer.


UV, skylight yellow green orange red polarizing

Filter Factor none



Close-up Equipment

For close-up photography, you will need a macro lens, supplementary close-up lens, extension tube, or extension bellows.

See for more on close-up photography.

Most of the time, your camera will allow you to focus as close to your subject as you'd like. But if you want to get even closer, you may need additional equipment. Specific cameras and lenses vary, but lenses made for 35mm SLRs usually allow you to focus no closer than 12" to 15" away, and often farther with longer focal lengths. You can usually focus quite close up with a view camera, but you can't easily focus very close with snapshot, rangefinder, and twin-lens-reflex models—all cameras that don't offer viewing and focusing through a single lens.

If you want to focus very close up with your 35mm SLR, you will probably need a macro lens, supplementary close-up lens, extension tube, or extension bellows—all of which are described below. Regardless of your equipment, use a tripod to hold the camera steady whenever possible, because any camera shake or vibration will show more than if the subject were shot from a greater distance.

Keep in mind that close-up photographs have an inherently shallow depth of field. Set the smallest possible lens aperture to maximize depth of field. You might consider using a fast film and/or a slow shutter speed (definitely with the camera on a tripod), both of which allow you to close down your lens aperture for increased depth of field.

Macro lens
Supplementary close-up lenses

Macro lens. A macro lens looks and acts much like any other lens, except it allows you to focus more closely. It's arguably the best close-up option for a number of reasons, including its ability to focus at any distance—from inches away to infinity. With the other close-up options, you can focus only at limited close ranges.

Some so-called macro lenses allow you to focus closer than a normal lens, but with a true macro lens you can usually focus as close as an inch or two away from your subject. Expect to pay more for a macro lens. They are available in a variety of focal lengths, including zoom models, but most true macros are fixed-focal-length lenses—usually normal (50-60mm) and moderate tele-photo (90-105mm).

Supplementary close-up lenses. A supplementary close-up lens is a clear, magnifying lens, placed in front of the camera lens, like a filter, that allows you to focus close to your subject. Close-up lenses are rated according to their close focusing capability. A +1 close-up lens allows you to focus up close; a +2 allows you to focus even closer; and so forth. Choices typically range from +1 to +5.

When using a close-up lens, you can focus only at a specified range of distances—not closer and not farther away. (That range should be noted in the instructions packaged with the close-up lens.) This is a significant difference between a close-up lens and a macro lens, which you can focus at any distance.

Supplementary close-up lenses are the least expensive close-up option. They are typically sold individually and in sets of three, sized according to the diameter of the lens (such as 52mm, 55mm, and so forth)—the same as filters.

extension tube

Extension tube. An extension tube is literally a tube-shaped accessory that fits between the lens and the camera body, increasing the distance between lens and film to allow closer focusing. To use an extension tube, attach one end to your camera body and the other end to the back of your lens. Place the camera, tube, and lens on a tripod, then focus on the subject. If you can't get the subject in focus, use a different extension tube. As with close-up lenses, you can only focus at the close distances specified in the instruction material that comes with the tubes, not closer and not farther away.

extension bellows extension tube

extension bellows

Extension bellows. An extension bellows is an accordion-like cardboard or cloth tube mounted on an adjustable rail. Like an extension tube, it fits between the lens and the camera body, increasing the distance between lens and film for closer focus.

To use an extension bellows, attach one end to your camera body and the other end to your lens. Place the camera, bellows, and lens on a tripod; the tripod typically attaches to a hole in the bottom of the bellows rail. Then focus on the subject, using a knob on the bellows. You can only focus at close distances with a bellows—not further away.

Miscellaneous Accessories

There are many other useful accessories available for your camera. You are already familiar with some of the most common ones, such as extra lenses, handheld light meters, and flash and other lighting equipment. Following are a few more.

Camera bag

Cases and bags. There is a wide variety of cases and bags for protecting and carrying camera equipment. Fitted cases that come with many cameras offer excellent protection, but often have to be removed in order to load and unload film, which can be annoying if you use several rolls of film in a single session.

One good substitute for a fitted case is a camera wrap, a soft, padded cloth used to cover a camera, accessory lens, flash, or any other piece of equipment. The cloth has Velcro to keep it tightly attached, and wraps and unwraps easily.

You also should have a camera bag to hold your camera (with or without a fitted case or wrap), lenses, film, and other accessories. There are many models available, varying in style and rigidity. The best camera bags should be just big enough to carry the equipment you typically need—or maybe a little bigger for when you add equipment in the future. Buy a sturdy model that's well padded,

but consider weight as well. Carrying equipment and a bag can be tiring, especially if you must walk or climb a lot to take your pictures.

Lens- and camera-cleaning materials. There are a number of products made for cleaning your lens, camera, and other equipment. Often, compressed (canned) air will do the trick; use it to blow off dust from the front of your camera lens and various parts of the camera. Take care if you are using compressed air inside the camera, however, as the air pressure can damage delicate mechanisms, such as an SLR's reflex mirror and focal-plane shutter. Note that if compressed air is tilted or shaken it can emit a chemical propellant rather than air.

There are various other cleaning products and blowers, including one with a rubber bulb attached to a brush. In general, any wide brush or antistatic cloth will work well to remove loose dirt or dust from lenses and cameras, but be careful to keep the brush or cloth clean. Storing them in a plastic bag between uses is probably the simplest way to do this.

Lens-cleaning solution and soft disposable tissues also are commonly used to remove dirt, grime, grease and fingerprints from the front and rear lens glass. Use solution sparingly; apply it to the tissue, not the lens, and rub gently to avoid scratching the lens surface. It's a good idea to blow off potentially abrasive particles before wiping. Lens-cleaning cloths made of microfibers, which don't require solution of any kind, are a common alternative. Since they do not use a liquid, it's even more important to make the lens surface free from abrasive grit before wiping.

Be especially careful if you are carrying or storing camera equipment in dusty, dirty, sandy, or wet conditions, such as at the beach. Keeping your equipment sealed in a sturdy plastic bag will help keep out the elements.

Diopter lenses. A diopter is a vision-correcting lens, available for many camera models, that attaches to your viewfinder eyepiece to let you compose and focus the picture without wearing eyeglasses. You may have trouble composing accurately with glasses; for most accuracy, you need to position your viewing eye right up to the viewfinder, and wearing glasses will keep you from getting that close.

Diopters are rated like reading glasses, such as +1, +2, +3, and -1, -2, -3; in-between prescriptions also are available. Some camera models have diopters with a range of correction built in; you adjust a dial next to the viewfinder until you can see your subject more clearly.

Karl Baden, Charlotte, 1992

Baden works hard to make his photographs reflect his humorous worldview, even if it means crawling under his bed. To get the shot in this low-light situation, Baden used an on-camera flash to surprise his dog with a quick burst of light and hard-edged, even illumination. © Karl Baden; courtesy of Robert Mann Gallery, New York, NY, and Howard Yezerski, Boston, MA.

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