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Close up lenses are designed to be screwed onto the front of your normal camera lens in order to change the closest focusing distance. The Canon 500D Close-up Lens is a small double-element lens that screws onto the filter threads on a standard (non-macro) lens. Such close-up lenses result in higher magnification when used with longer telephoto lens.
In essence they allow you to get close up to your subject matter and are ideal for macro-photography. It allows your normal lens to be focused at a much closer distance- resulting in a higher magnification of the subject. The Canon 500D Close-up Lens is intended to be used on lenses with a focal length of 70mm-300mm and is designed to be used with most Canon EF lenses on the market.
The Canon 500D is a doublet type close-up lens that gives a correction for chromatic aberration. What this means is that the lens has two elements and is therefore said to give a performance that is much better than the less expensive singlet type lenses that only have one element. It is usually recommended that you should stop down to f/16 if you're using a cheaper one-element close-up lenses rather than a two-element lens.
There are a few things you need to take into account when deciding whether to buy a lens accessory of this type. On the positive side they are useful because they act as handy supplementary lenses that should not require any exposure corrections (as long as they have two elements). They are therefore convenient enough to slip into your pocket to be used whenever you need them. On the negative side it has to be said that generally they are nowhere near the quality of proper EF lenses and therefore are usually avoided by professional users. Another problem is the slight inconvenience of having to screw them on and off during shooting sessions where you are taking pictures of things at different distances.
In my experience the quality of this supplementary lens is very good. There is very little noticeable loss of quality when you combine this add on feature with a normal Canon lens. I have used it with my Canon EF 200mm and 300mm lenses and the performance has been good in both cases. Importantly there seems to be little loss of light despite the shorter minimum focusing distance that is provided. However, as one might imagine the lens is slightly sharper at the centre than towards the edges, but this is only noticeable in highly magnified captured images.
In conclusion the 500D Close-Up lens is the perfect accessory for those who have a lens in the 70-300mm range but do not have the budget for an advanced fixed focal length macro lens. It is a lens that will bring you closer to your subject when shooting macro photography. It also has the advantage that it is very light and therefore easy to carry around. The lens is currently sold online and on the high street at various retailers at around the £100 mark.