Ready for My Closeup

The G1 and G2 have a built-in "macro" capability, but for maximum magnification you'll need a set of closeup diopters (a.k.a "closeup lenses"). Mine are an old set of uncoated 52mm Tiffens, in three strengths: +1, +2, and +4. These can be combined (strongest diopter always closest to the lens) to provide strengths up to +7 diopters. Just how close is that?

As a personal reference, I set a few coins on a sheet of black foam and took the following set of photos. I zoomed the lens all the way in, then set the focus manually -- either to the closest possible setting or to the farthest possible setting. This way, I could get a notion as to just what those ranges are.

Note that this is one of those tests where subjective data have come into play, rather than the objective numerically-based tests you may find on other parts of the site. I didn't measure the distances from the focal plane to the camera, I didn't calculate the expected circles of confusion. I just set up the coins on the foam at the foot of my own bed, augmented the morning window light with bounce fill from an off-camera 550EX, and shot the pictures handheld.

I adjusted the focus using the "digital zoom closeup" method — G2 and G3 users can skip this trick, their cameras already have a great magnifier.

There's actually a reason for this. The G1's focus display doesn't use numbers in the first place, and my interest was much more in the feeling than the actual numbers: "about this far away, use the +4." The ranges are so short that I was much more interested in the "me-scaled" experience than in the abstract (though surely useful for many purposes) numeric results.

For this reason, I suggest that you take ten minutes and try such a set of experiments on your own, if you have closeup lenses. The scales are usually small, within the reach of your own hand -- and so teach your hands to be your own best guides.

(G3 note: it's not yet clear if Canon will provide diopters for their new bayonet G3 mount)

Min Focus Distance Diopter Max Focus Distance

Macro w/tele,
not always recommended
Sky's the limit!

Two interesting and useful-to-remember coincidences:

No diopter, min distance

+4, max distance

+4, min distance

+7, max distance

Note for Non-Yanks

The "New York" coin in the center is a new Millenium Edition Quarter -- a 25-cent piece. If you really have no idea what size that is, it's just about exactly the size of 20 French centimes, five Belgian francs, and slightly smaller than 1 Nederland guilder. Or the size of a Canadian quarter. Does that help?

+4 diopter under an open skylight

©2001 Kevin Bjorke
Rev 3 July 2001

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