Diopters and Lens Shades for Smaller Lenses

Nikon and other still manufacturers make 52 mm diopter (close-up lens) sets of +1, +2 and +4 power. These diopters will solve many close up problems, but not all. Some longer focal length lenses will not focus closer than 6 feet and a +1 diopter is too strong for distances between 6' and one meter. We made some +1/2 and +3/4 diopters from eyeglass blanks and fitted them in 52 mm filter rings. The best filters to use as holders are Tiffen that have threaded rings to hold in the glass filter. Other filter rings without screw in holders can be used and the new diopter glued in. Tiffen makes diopters from +1/2 to +3.

We had a few lenses with filters larger than 52 mm. We use reducing adapter rings to use the 52 mm diopters that work without vignetting because we are using still lenses on movie format and are not using the full 35 mm still format coverage of the lens.

You can use series 9 filters that do come in + 1/2 to + 3 power, but they are very large and the step up rings required are expensive. If you already have them, they will work fine.

Optical lens supply houses can supply lens blanks up to about 3 inches / 75 mm in diameter. Some will not supply without a prescription, but some will if you explain what you are doing. You can get them in a wide range of diopter powers. There are also plastic reading glasses in drug stores. Unfortunately they are none with less that +1 power. They will work if you need +1 and more power.

Lens shades. I hate snap-on shades and prefer screw in ones. Snap-on shades can come off when handling lenses and the lens gets dropped. They don't make many handy for use on still lenses on movie format. We made our own with haze filter rings and glued various tubes on to make shades. J-B Weld is a great epoxy. Mix it well and let it set in the sun or under a light to accelerate hardening. Kenko Haze filters are from DBLDistributing.com. ($1,99 ea) Some camera stores have junk drawers full of old filters. Look for ones that have screw-in retainers like Tiffen does for the glass.

Shades for the lens made of other things such as black wrap can be risky if they get in front of the lens by accident and you are not using a reflex camera and check often.

We lined the inside of the lens shades with black-flocked paper. Edmund Scientific has some with adhesive back.

© Copyright 2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.