I know the feeling – you just got your first diopter / macro lens / close-up lens and nothing seems to be in focus no matter what you do!
There’s no way around it – shooting with diopters is really, really hard.
With very powerful lenses such as the SMC-1, CMC-1, UCL-09 etc which are +12, +15 or more, it often takes 5-10 minutes to get a single good shot of a subject with it.
Depth of field (the area that is in focus) is TINY. There’s a very small distance range which you can shoot at – if you are too close or too far, it won’t focus!
A few tips that’ll help:
- The proper way to shoot with a diopter is to zoom in all the way. That’s how you get the most magnification and the best optical quality. If you want, you can zoom in only until the black corners disappear. That will make it a bit easier to shoot, but your corners may seem distorted or blurry.
- You have to get really close to your subject. Closer. Yes even closer. A bit more, careful not to bump into it… There you go!
- Use a very narrow aperture – depending on your camera. It could be F/8, F/22 or even higher to increase depth of field.
- Use a focus light. It really helps.
- Focus on the eyes and points of contrast in color, shape or texture.
- Try shooting with a video light instead of a strobe, and use burst shooting while gently rocking back and forth – one shot will be in focus!
- Start with easy subjects – Nudibranchs, coral, then work your way up to shrimps, blennies and other critters.
- Use a reef stick to stabilize yourself – if it can be used safely without harming coral or marine life.
- Most important tip – perfect your buoyancy! The #1 skill that’ll improve your macro photography is becoming a better diver. Trust me on this.