Add-On and Converter Lenses

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Add-on and converter lenses are camera accessories that often get lost in the shuffle. It’s easy to identify the need for an extra memory card, a camera case, an extra battery, a dedicated flash or in the case of an SLR, an additional lens or three as add-on options for your camera.


Converter lenses for point and shoots generally attach to a bayonet or screw mount around the camera’s lens. Often your camera manufacturer will provide an optional adapter to facilitate their use. Refer to your user manual to see if your model is compatible. They can also be used with many compact video cameras that feature a filter thread on the lens.

Adapters for SLR systems in the form of teleconverters and extension tubes, attach in between your camera and its lens. If you’ve ever changed the lens on your camera, you’ll have no troubles figuring out how to use them. With that in mind let’s take a look at some fun and possibly, to some of you, unfamiliar accessories.

Wide-Angle and Fisheye Adapters

If you’d like to expand your field of view, consider a wide-angle adapter for your camera. How much wider you can get depends on the magnification factor. If you’ve got a camera that has a 28mm lens, sort of on the wide side, adding a 0.5x adapter will convert that to the field of view of a 14mm lens!

You’ve got a lot of different options to widen your camera’s horizons. You can consider Kenko’s SGW-05,  a 0.5x adapter lens that can attach via a 37mm filter thread. If you want to go even wider, and don’t mind the distorted fisheye effect, consider Vivitar’s VIV-21-37MM, which creates a 0.21x magnification factor, sports multi-coated glass and also attaches via a 37mm thread.

Raynox’s HD-6600 is a 0.66x conversion lens that attaches via 43mm filter thread. While it won’t offer as dramatic an effect as a 0.5x or fisheye add-on lens, it will certainly be a boon for anyone who would like to go a little bit wider in their images. It is also available with a 52mm thread, the size commonly found on DSLR kit lenses. Raynox also offers a 0.7x version—the HD-7000—with a 58mm filter thread, compatible via adapter with the Canon G10, G11 and G12 when used with the optional FA-DC58B adapter.

Vivitar makes a 0.43x wide angle attachment lens, available in 52mm and 58mm threaded versions. The adapter can features a steel barrel for enhanced durability, and you have the option of attaching a 62mm filter to its front thread, perfect for adding ND filters or a circular polarizer.

If fisheye is what you crave, consider one of two adapters from Zeikos. Its 0.18x fisheye lens can attach to a 52mm or 58mm lens. Constructed from durable steel, the lens creates a stunning circular fisheye effect. Its glass lens is multicoated for superior image quality and flare resistance.

For a more subtle fisheye effect, consider Zeikos’s 0.40x fisheye adapter lens. It can attach via 46mm, 49mm, 52mm and 58mm threads thanks to the included step-up rings. The lens barrel is constructed of steel and the lens itself is multicoated glass.

Telephoto and  Macro Adapters

If your’e looking to get a little more reach from your camera, consider a telephoto adapter. Vivitar makes a 2.2x telephoto attachment that mounts on 58mm threads. It allows you to bring distant subjects much closer, photographically, and features a 62mm front thread for filters or a hood.

While many compact cameras have pretty amazing macro capabilities these days, sometimes you just want to focus on something that is extremely close to the front of your lens. SLR users who are starting out with the standard kit zoom may find themselves limited by its lack of macro-focusing capability. This is where the Raynox DCR-250 can come in handy. It’s a 2.5x macro adapter with a snap-on design—making it compatible with lenses that accept filters between 52mm and 67mm in size. When used with a zoom lens, make sure it is set to its telephoto extreme for maximum effect.

SLR Extension Tubes

Extension tubes can be used to add close-focusing capability to any SLR lens. They work by adding distance between the rear of the lens and the camera’s sensor (or film, for the three of us who still use 35mm). This allows the lens to focus much closer than it normally can, but you will lose the ability to focus on objects that are far away, making these an extremely specialized solution for close-focus photography. You will lose some light depending on the length of the extension tube and the size of the exit pupil of your lens you. For best results and fewest headaches, we recommend you use a digital SLR, or a 35mm SLR that supports TTL metering.

Kenko offers a set of three extension tubes: 12mm, 20mm and 36mm in length, available for Nikon and Canon cameras. The tubes feature circuitry which makes it possible for the camera to communicate with the lens for focusing and metering functionality, although it’s probably best to focus manually. You can stack the tubes if you choose, if an individual extension tube does not provide enough magnification to suit your needs.

Zeikos also offers a set of extension tubes: 13mm, 21mm and 31mm, for use with Nikon or Canon cameras. Similar in functionality to the Kenko set, the Zeikos extension tubes are great for hobbyists on a budget. They are more modestly priced than their Kenko counterparts.

SLR Teleconverters

If you’d like to get a bit more reach from your favorite telephoto lens, consider adding a teleconverter to your SLR. Both Kenko and Zeikos feature a 1.4x converter, compatible with Nikon and Canon cameras, in their lineup. The 1.4x converter sits between your lens and the camera, extending its focal length by 140%. Adding the teleconverter to your 70-200mm makes it a 98-280mm! Bear in mind that there is also light loss when you use a teleconverter. An f/2.8 lens with a teleconverter can only capture about as much light as an f/4 lens without one. Autofocus and metering functions work with both of these teleconverters, but keep in mind that most cameras can only autofocus at apertures of f/5.6 or larger, so don’t try to attach it to a lens that already has a maximum aperture of f/5.6.

And There’s More

If you don’t see what you’re looking for detailed here, fear not! B&H carries a wide range of auxiliary lenses, extension tubes, and teleconverters to suit your specific needs.

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Hello and thanks for taking the time to read this, But I have a question on fisheye lenses. 

       I am curious about using 37mm Fisheye lens on a 52mm Nikon lens. Will having a step down adapter make this possible? or will the picture be too heavily vignetted?  Im not too sure. Logic would dictate that I could get the Fisheye to fit, but is it even worth it?

Using an auxiliary lens with a 37mmm threading and attempting to couple it to an SLR lens with a 52mm sized filter threading would cause signifcant vignetting.  I never recommend the use of screw-on/add-on lenses for DSLRs.  As the writer mentioned for DSLRs there are telecovnerters and extension tubes, however the smaller add-on lenses are best used and intended for use on point and shoot cameras and camcorders which sport much smaller lens diameters. 

Hi!

Thanks for the informative piece.

I'm looking for a wide and telephoto lenses for my lumix LX7. I'm buying the Panasonic DMW-FA1 Filter Adapter Kit as well. Please advise.

Thanks.

The Panasonic DMW-FA1 Filter Adapter has a 37mm filter thread, so you would simply need to look for an Add-On lens that has a 37mm thread for attachment.  Click here.

Hello,

Do you have a web page or printed catalog that lists what type of 52mm special effect filters are available?  I have a Nikon digital camera, however I like to experiment with my Nikon 35mm film camera, using various filters 

Thank you

Jeff

We do carry various 52mm star filters, color effects filters, and Soft focus filters you might look at.  If you click on each of those groups above, it will take you to pages with the 52mm options.

Hi, my name is ken and i want to start doing a bit of photography, nothing heavy and on a shoestring budget.

i own a Panosonic FZ100 with additional filters plus an 58mm extension tube, a Poloroid 58mm 2.2x high definition telephoto lens, a 52mm 2x Telephoto high def lens, a set of 52mm filters, PL, UV, ND8, CPL, UV, Diffusion, and a Close-up +10 and a 52mm sun shade.

can you suggest a good strong telephoto lens that is compatible with the FZ100 which is economical as i said i am on a budget as i am disabled and dont get out much but can wheel myself outside and have a good view of the landscape but want to bring it as close to me as i can with a budget lens, used is better as its cheaper but i just dont know what to get as i dont understand hald the jargon used when a description is given !!

am i right in saying its best to use the tube then add on atelephoto lens to that tube and do i need any other lenses inbetween and if so which ones and what size?

i am struggling with focus when using the 10x lens - no matter what i do i just cant seem to get a decsent focus at all, suggestions pleaseon this and what telephoto lens on a budget is compatible with my FZ100 ?

thanks for any help from a newbie

regards ken :)

Hello Ken,

To the best of my knowledge, the FZ100 didn’t have a front filter thread, so a lens adapter was required to put an add-on lens on the FZ100’s built-in lens.  Panasonic’s lens adapter was the DMW-LA5 and had a 55mm filter thread for adding 55mm auxiliary lenses.  There is a bower option with a 58mm thread as well.  I’m not sure what adapter you would be using with a 52mm thread for your 52mm accessories.

When you mention the 10X lens, are you referring to the +10 close-up filter/lens?  If so, that filter isn’t designed to make things in the distance appear closer, it’s designed to let the lens focus on items physically closer than the lens is designed to do.  The lens will lose the ability to retain focus at infinity with this filter, which means you won’t be able to focus on items in the distance.

As for other telephoto lens options, there aren’t many options that will be more telephoto than the 2X and 2.2X telephoto conversion lenses you already mentioned.  A conversion lens can only do so much when it comes to altering the native abilities of the lens.  If you do want to look at conversion lenses that will give your camera/lens more reach, though, there are a couple Polaroid and Digital Concepts options:

http://bhpho.to/1o6LRA3

 If you have any other questions, feel free to send us an email.  askbh@bandh.com

I use a Fuji XE2 and have a Fuji 55-200 telephoto zoom.  I am interested in trying a Teleconvertor add on lens to increase the reach if this can be done without excessive image degredation.  If there is such an add on to go between the camera body and the lens with a pass through ability that would maintain all the functions and image stabilization that would be perfect.  If not, then is there an add on that would fit on the front 62mm thread of my Fuji 55-200?  If so, what is the highest quality such add on?  Since it is front mounted am I correct in thinking that the features of the Fuji lens, including image stabilization, auto focus etc will be maintained?  Thanks.  Ed

Unfortunately there are not any teleconverter options offered for the Fuji X mount system to go between the camera and the lens.  As far as add on lenses go, there are not many for this lens which has a 62mm sized thread.  There are not any teleconverter versions with a 62mm mount.  The closest we have is 58mm and comes with a step-down adapter ring (could cause vignetting).  The optical quality of this option will likely cause some image degredation.  I am sorry there are not more options for telephoto lenses for this system at the current time.  See the link below for details on this add-on lens option:

http://bhpho.to/1onux8b