A list of achromatic close-up lenses

In my search for high quality optics to do close-up photography with my superzoom digicam, I came across several web pages that list good achromatic lenses. These are filter mount lenses, sometimes called "doublet" or "2 element" lens or "close-up filter". On this page I'll combine those sources and make a final list. The information is taken from the following sources: Greg Erker, Bob Johnson and Ian Odgers (who in the mean time has removed his list), and a lot of my own research. I made this list primarily as a reference for myself, and I thought: "Well, if I'm gonna make an ultimate list, I might as well put it on my site!" In the end, I got 2 pieces of the Sigma achromatic macro lens, and have been very satisfied with their quality. This list was originally made in 2005, but 8 years later I'm still using them now and then with the excellent Minolta 135 mm f/2.8 tele lens and my ring flash system!

In the table head, "Verified" means that I have come across the lens myself on more than two occasions on the net (in 2005), and therefor know it is indeed an achromat, and it was still being made, or at least being sold new or used. Price ranges are: Low (below USD 50), Medium (USD 50-100) and High (USD 100 and up).

Manufacturer Model Sizes Diopters (+) Optimized for lens Verified Price range
Canon 500D [1] 52 58 72 77 2 70-300 Yes Med
Canon 250D [1] 52 58 4 50-135 Yes Med
Century optics Achromatic diopter 58 2 4 7 40-300 Yes High
Heliopan [2] Achromat close-up 49 55 67 82 3 4 5 6 - No High
Kenko PRO1D AC Close-up Lens No.3 49 52 55 58 62 67 72 77 3 - Yes ?
Kenko AC Close-up Lens No.2 49 52 55 58 62 67 72 77 2 - Yes ?
Kenko AC Close-up Lens No.3-4-5 49 52 55 58 3 4 5 - Yes ?
Leica Elpro 1 E55 2.5 [8] Yes High
Leica Elpro 2 E55 4.9 [8] Yes High
Leica Elpro 3 E55 1.66 [9]? Yes High
Leica Elpro 4 E55 .75 [9] Yes High
Marumi DHG Achromat macro 200 52 55 58 62 67 72 77 5 - Yes Med
Marumi DHG Achromat macro 330 52 55 58 62 67 72 77 3 - Yes Med
Minolta No.0 49 55 0.94 50-200 Yes Low
Minolta No.1 49 55 2.0 24-200 Yes Low
Minolta No.2 49 55 3.8 24-50 Yes Low
Nikon 3T 52 1.5 80-200 Yes Low
Nikon 4T 52 2.9 80-200 Yes Low
Nikon 5T 62 1.5 80-200 Yes Low
Nikon 6T 62 2.9 80-200 Yes Low
Manufacturer Model Sizes Diopter (+) Optimized for lens Verified Price range
Olympus Close-up lens [3] 49 5.9 80 No N/A
Olympus iS/L lens A-Macro 49 2.5 - No Med
Olympus iS/L lens B-Macro 55 2.5 - Yes Med
Olympus iS/L lens A-Lifesize Macro [4] 49 7.7 - No High
Olympus MCON-40 55 2.5 ? Yes Med
Olympus MCON-35 62 2.9 ? Yes Med
Opteka High definition 10x macro [5] 52 55 58 10 50-300 Yes Low
Pentax [6] S33 58 3 50 No Med
Pentax S56 58 1.8 50 No Med
Pentax S82 67 1.22 50-105 No High
Pentax T226 67 0.44 50-200 No High
Pentax T132 67 0.76 50-200 No High
Raynox MSN-202 [5] 37 25 (!) 50-300 Yes Low
Raynox MSN-505 [5] 37 32 (!) 50-300 Yes Low
Raynox DCR-150 [4] 43 52-67 4 50-300 Yes Low
Raynox DCR-250 [4] 43 52-67 8 50-300 Yes Low
Sigma Achromatic macro lens 34 43 52 58 62 1.6 70-300 Yes Low
Sigma Life-size attachment [7] 52 58 62 1.6 70-300 Yes Low
Siocore Pro Achromatic 52 55 58 62 67 72 77 10 ? Yes Med
Sony VCLM3358 58 3.3 ? Yes Low
Vivitar Life-size attachment 49 3.3? 100mm No High
Zoerk Makroscope type I 52 12 50-135 Yes High

Notes:

  • Close-up lenses sold in sets (of usually +1, +2, and +4 and some even including a +10) are never achromatic. Imagine how much a set like that would be!
  • [1] Canon also lists 240, 250, 450 and 500 lenses (without the "D"). These are NOT achromats
  • [2] The high diopter, large diameters are VERY expensive (over 500 US dollars)
  • [3] Originally intended for use with their 80mm f/4 auto macro
  • [4] This is a 3-element lens
  • [5] This is a 4-element lens
  • [6] All listed Pentax lenses are intended for large format cameras, but should work just as well on any other camera
  • [7] Originally included with older Sigma lenses before 1:1 macro capability became common for Sigma. I have seen this lens listed as both +1.6 diopter and +10 diopter. I don't know which is true, but +1.6 would be the most likely. It's probably the exact same lens as the Sigma "Achromatic Macro Lens".
  • [8] Optimized for the Leica Summicron-R 50mm f/2 only
  • [9] Optimized for the Leica 90mm f/2.8, 90mm f/2, 100mm f/4 and 135mm f/2.8 R-lenses

If you have more info on achromats to add to this table, please leave a comment or contact me personally. Let's make this the most accurate list on the face of the earth.

The difference

Why would you want to use an achromatic lens? I'll tell you why. What a lens (any lens) does is refract the light that's going through it. It alters the light's direction so to speak. In doing so, different colors of light are refracted slightly differently. If you ever paid attention in science class, you must remember the prism, which breaks a white strand of light into the colours of the rainbow. This is called dispersion, a physical phenomenon that occurs in all optics. The result of dispersion in photographic lenses is called chromatic aberration; color fringing in laymen's terms. What an achromatic lens does is largely counteract the refraction differences of the different colors of light by using 2 bonded optic elements with different dispersions.

On a sidenote: for some optical systems (like extreme telephoto lenses), the use of achromatic elements is not enough to get the best results. Instead, apochromatic lens elements are used. This is often abbreviated to APO. Apochromatic optical systems use elements made of very special kinds of optical material, for instance crystalline calcium fluorite, which has low dispersion of itself to begin with. Needless to say, fluorite is much more expensive than normal optical glass.

The difference between a cheap single element lens and an achromatic lens can be quite dramatic as is illustrated by the following examples. Please note that part of the difference is the difference in diopter of the two lenses.

A bar code, seen at full zoom (380mm equivalent) through a cheap single element +2.9 close-up:

The same bar code, seen at full zoom (380mm equivalent) through a +1.6 Sigma achromatic macro lens:

The difference is blatantly obvious in these brought-to-scale, 100% crops:

I don't have to explain which is which now, do I?

For some excellent examples of what can be done with a relatively cheap setup with a compact camera and achromats, have a look at Seemolf's (Sven Gude) website. Sven has done many amazing shots.

Calculations

So, what focus advantage does an add-on macro lens give, exactly? It depends heavily on the lens you're adding it to. To calculate this, you first need to know the equivalent diopter of the lens you're using. This is the inverse of the closest possible focus distance in meters (to convert inches to meters, divide by 39.37). So if your closest focus distance is .82 m, then you can calculate the diopter with the following equation:

D = 1 / .82m = 1.22

Add to this the diopter of the lens(es) you're adding. For instance, my 2 Sigmas have a diopter of 1.6 each, so I'd have to add a total of 3.2:

D = 1.22 + 1.6 + 1.6 = 4.42

To convert this number into the new focus distance, calculate the inverse of the new diopter:

d = 1 / 4.42 = .226 m

If you're more used to inches, multiply this number by 39.37 and you're done.

Comments

Fuzzcraft.com comment system 1.1   

2011-05-06   G. Epke

Elpro's 1 & 2 are optimized for the Summicron-R 1:2/50mm only. Elpro's 3 & 4 are optimized for the 90/2.8, 90/2, 100/4 and 135/2.8 R-lenses. The Elpro's 1-4 were introduced in 1976 and have filtersize E55.

2011-05-10   Fuzzcraft.com

Thank you for your input. I'll add it to the table.

2011-09-12   Adam

I think the nikons are no longer made. I've read so other places, and they aren't really available. I did find two on ebay for like, 200$ - not exactly cheap.

In my searches I've come across a german company called Dörr. They sell from Amazon at least and are priced pretty low:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Dorr+close+up&x=0&y=0.

Best
/adam

2011-09-27   docdiz

sony VCL-m3358 is +3.3 diopter. Use on my olymous ZD 40-150mm with no problem. Coma severely if used on 200+ up.

Used on compact camera (with aided from accessory tube) at 200mm covers 18mm x 12mm area from 30 cm away.

Raynox MSN is now MSN-202 and MSN-505. I use MSN-202 on my olympus ZD 40-150mm with no problem. No vignette, no coma, no CA.

At 150mm the object distant is around 2" from front surface. Magnification at 150mm is about 5:1 but NO DOF at all .

2012-04-20   Mike

I've had two Sigma 58mm achromatic close up lenses that I've used to make up small refracting telescopes - one had astigmatism but the other was perfect and gives razor sharp images with almost no false colour suggesting low dispersion glass has been used. Works great as photographic close up lens as well, as you have shown.

2012-11-12   Paul.

Just thought you should know the Sigma Achromatic macro lens also comes in a 62mm size.

2012-11-12   Admin

Thanks, Paul. I've added it to the table.

2013-03-23   Paul

Two more for you to add to the Sigma Achromat size chart. Just got a 34mm and 43mm.

2013-10-25   Werner

Hi Joris, not too bad. Still a few to add:

Kenko:
http://www.kenkoglobal.com/photo/filters/close_up_lens/ (only those with AC in the name are achromats)

Marumi:
http://www.marumi-international.com/dhg/page3.html#a06
better overview can be found here however:
http://www.enjoyyourcamera.com/Macro-Accessories/Makro-Achromat:::10_112.html

Siolex / Siocore:
http://www.siolex.de/makrozubehoer/makro-bzw-nahlinsen/ (seems to be available in German only - scroll down, the +10 are achromats)

Kind regards, Werner.

2013-10-25   Werner

Hi Joris, not too bad. Still a few to add:

Kenko:
http://www.kenkoglobal.com/photo/filters/close_up_lens/ (only those with AC in the name are achromats)

Marumi:
http://www.marumi-international.com/dhg/page3.html#a06
better overview can be found here however:
http://www.enjoyyourcamera.com/Macro-Accessories/Makro-Achromat:::10_112.html

Siolex / Siocore:
http://www.siolex.de/makrozubehoer/makro-bzw-nahlinsen/ (seems to be available in German only - scroll down, the +10 are achromats)

Kind regards, Werner.

2013-11-02   Christian

About the diopters of the high-enlarging Raynox- achromats:

Raynox MSN-202: Diopters= 25 (!)
Raynox MSN-505: Diopters= 32 (!)

Thankyou for your nice listing,
Regards: Christian

2013-11-02   Fuzzcraft

The table has been updated with Werner's and Christian's input. Thank you, both!

2013-11-22   Guerito

The Hoya +10 is not an achromat lens, it is two plano convex +5 diopters fixed together in the same ring - basically like screwing two +5 single lens diopters together to get +10.

2013-11-22   Fuzzcraft

Guerito, you're absolutely right. I checked the Hoya website and it is indeed listed as a "2 element in 2 groups" lens. Hence it's not achromatic. I'll remove it from the list with the next update. Thanks for your insight.

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