NiSi Close-up Lens Kit

As mentioned in previous posts, over the years we have whittled down our camera bag to carry only the bare minimum. We now favour the Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L camera bag for the majority of our travel photography. We love taking the occasional macro image, however, when it comes to an overseas trip where we only take the essential equipment, our 2 macro lenses remain at home in their cosy E-Dry Cabinet. We have a Tamron SP AF90mm f/2.8 Model 272E lens and a Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105MM f/2.8G IF-ED lens and they are both exceptional. Both lenses are used with adapters for our Sony A7Riii cameras. But as good as these lenses are, they are just not lenses that we are prepared to walk around with on a daily basis. Having said that, should we take a road trip that involves using our backpack camera bags then these lenses would definitely find a home in the bag.

We are NiSi Resellers here in Australia, so when we saw the NiSi Close-Up Lens Kit it immediately piqued our interest. Could this be the solution to our needs for macro shots when travelling? Would the quality be good enough? A multitude of questions swirled around what few brain cells we had left.?  Read on…

NiSi Close-up Lens Kit

Above: The 58mm NiSi Close-up Lens Kit

NiSi Close-up Lens Kit - 77mm

Above: The 77mm NiSi Close-up Lens Kit

The Lens

The lens resides in a round zippered reinforced case with an attached wrist lanyard/strap. The case protects the lens quite well (see below), although this makes it quite bulky to carry around (for us, at least). If travelling, and you have limited space in your camera bag, we’ve worked out a solution – screw-in metal lens caps. Fortunately, both sides of the NiSi Close-up Lens Kit are threaded so these work perfectly attached to both sides (see below) and can also still fit in the provided case if needed. When working with the lens, one of these can also be used as a lens cap in between shots if necessary. You can get these cheaply on eBay or alternatively, buy at GOBE Filters and get a further 15% off the price when using the coupon code ‘widescenes‘ at checkout. Naturally, if you lug around a backpack camera bag with lots of space then you may consider just using the provided case.

The NiSi Close-up Lens Kit comes in two sizes – 58mm & 77mm, however, both sizes include separate adapter rings to fit other lens threads. The 58mm includes 49mm and 52mm step-up adapter rings and the 77mm size includes 72mm and 67mm step-up adapter rings. We purchased the 77mm as we would mostly use it on our Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 lens (77mm thread) and Sony FE 70-200mm f/4  lens (72mm thread).

The lens itself is well made with a solid metal rim. Both surfaces of the glass are recessed which gives it a bit of protection from bumps, although the glass is still very exposed to the elements. For this reason, you may want to keep a lens cloth handy so that you can give the glass a clean before attaching to your lens.

Note: After attaching the NiSi Close-up Lens Kit to your lens, you will no longer be able to use your lens hood (if you use one).

Above: NiSi Close-up Lens Kit in the provided case

Above: NiSi Close-up Lens Kit in the provided case but with the GOBE Lens Filter Caps attached

NiSi Close-up Lens Kit attached to a Sony FE 24-105 f/4 lens

Above: The NiSi Close-up Lens Kit 77mm – attached to a Sony FE 24-105 f/4 lens. The lens screws directly onto the 77mm thread of the 24-105mm lens.

NiSi Close-up Lens Kit attached to a Sony FE 70-200 f/4 lens

Above: The NiSi Close-up Lens Kit 77mm – attached to a Sony FE 70-200 f/4 lens. Hover over image for a closer look and you’ll notice the 72-77 step-up adapter ring

Magnification

The NiSi Close-up Lens Kit is best used with focal lengths between 70mm and 300mm, however, 1:1 magnification which is usually the standard of dedicated macro lenses, is only achievable at the 200mm focal length and beyond. As there are no diopter settings on the lens it is difficult to determine the magnification achieved at the shorter focal lengths from 70mm-200mm – but at the end of the day, does it really matter?

NiSi recommends that the 77mm version of the lens works best positioned between 22-30cm from the subject and we found in our testing that this is pretty accurate.

If you purchase the 58mm version the working distance of the close-up lens is 9-22cm from the subject as it has an extra element inside the lens. Also, if the 58mm version is attached to a dedicated macro lens you will achieve 2:1 magnification. Not sure why they would add the extra element in the 58mm version but as the 77mm was released first we can only think it was an afterthought. We tested the 77mm on the Nikon 105mm f2.8 macro lens (with an adapter for our Sony A7Riii) and this also achieved extra magnification due to a closer working distance of 11cm, but we cannot confirm that it was a 2:1 magnification.

Try to focus outside of the parameters mentioned above and you will not be able to focus at all (at least not on the 77mm version that we have).

Naturally, our main concern is whether the results would be as sharp as using a dedicated macro lens. In all honesty, we already knew deep down that there was no way that it could match the quality of a macro lens, but we were interested at how close it could get to still warrant prime real estate in our camera bag.

Below are some images with the Close-up lens attached to non-macro lenses compared to a dedicated macro lens. Hover over the images for a closer look.

Sony 24-105mm @105mm f/8 with Close Up Lens

Sony 70-200mm @200mm f/8 with Close Up Lens

Nikon 105mm Macro @105mm f/8 without Close Up Lens

Sharpness

To give you a comparison of sharpness all test images were taken on the Sony A7Riii and all shots were tripod mounted. Lenses used for comparison are the Sony 24-105mm f4, Sony 70-200mm F4, and the Nikon 105mm f2.8 Macro (used with a Nikon to Sony adapter). All these lens comparisons were shot with and without the 77mm NiSi Close Up Lens just to illustrate magnification and sharpness and shot at the closest focusing distance attainable. We mounted the camera on the Peak Design Travel Tripod.  The images have all been shot at f8 using auto-focus, except for the Nikon shots that have been manually focused. Images have not been edited. Sharpening has been reduced to ‘0’ in Lightroom. Hover over the images for a magnified view.

Samyang AF 75mm f1.8 FE - 1.8 Centre

Above: Shot on Sony 24-105mm
@105mm | f/8 – without Close Up Lens
Shot in RAW (Compressed). No edits.

Samyang AF 75mm f1.8 FE - 1.8 Corner

Above: Shot on Sony 24-105mm
@105mm | f/8 – with Close Up Lens
Shot in RAW (Compressed). No edits.

Samyang AF 75mm f1.8 FE - 2.8 Centre

Above: Shot on Sony 70-200mm
@200mm | f/8 – without Close Up Lens
Shot in RAW (Compressed). No edits.

Samyang AF 75mm f1.8 FE - 2.8 Corner

Above: Shot on Sony 70-200mm
@200mm | f/8 – with Close Up Lens
Shot in RAW (Compressed). No edits.

Samyang AF 75mm f1.8 FE - 2.8 Centre

Above: Shot on Nikon 105mm Macro
@105mm | f/8 – without Close Up Lens.
Nikon to Sony Adapter | Manual Focus
Shot in RAW (Compressed). No edits.

Samyang AF 75mm f1.8 FE - 2.8 Corner

Above: Shot on Nikon 105mm Macro
@105mm | f/8 – with Close Up Lens
Nikon to Sony Adapter | Manual Focus
Shot in RAW (Compressed). No edits.

Vignetting

As is expected, because you are working at longer focal lengths between 70mm and 300mm there is no visible vignetting when using the NiSi Close-up Lens Kit.

ON1 Photo RAW 2020

Check out the 2min video about the 77mm Nisi Close-up Lens Kit below.

Specifications

Here are some of the key specifications of the lens. Other specs can be found on the NiSi website –

NiSi Close Up Lens Kit NC 58mm

  • Allows a telephoto lens to function as a macro lens
  • Compatible with zoom or prime lenses in the focal length range of 35 – 250mm (full-frame equivalent)
  • Best working distance: 9-22cm
  • Mounts on any lens with a 58mm thread
  • Includes 49mm and 52mm adaptors
  • Double optical corrective glass
  • Apochromatic Design
  • Muti-nano Coating
  • Available for lenses with 58mm filter thread
  • Diopters +5

NiSi Close Up Lens Kit NC 77mm

  • Allows a telephoto lens to function as a macro lens
  • Large working distance
  • Compatible with zoom or prime lenses in the focal length range of 70-300mm (full-frame equivalent)
  • Best working distance: 22-30cm
  • Mounts on any lens with a 77mm thread with a focal length of 70 to 300mm
  • Includes 67mm and 72mm adaptors
Photography Planner

Verdict

If you are only an occasional macro shooter, the NiSi Close-up Lens Kit is a great alternative especially if your budget is tight. Just keep in mind, a dedicated macro lens can be used for any type of photography (especially portraits) whereas the NiSi Close-up Lens Kit can only be used as a macro lens and only within a fixed distance from the subject.

Based on the size, price, and results of the NiSi Close-up Lens Kit, we would have to say that it will definitely have a permanent place in our travel camera bag.  Based on the testing we did, we have concluded that although it is not as sharp as a dedicated macro lens (which was expected), the results astonished us. At home, we will continue to use our macro lenses but when we are mobile the NiSi Close-up Lens Kit will find a home in our camera bag.

Note: the NiSi Close-up Lens Kit will perform exceptionally well on high-quality lenses. We cannot vouch for the quality if used with a cheaper lens.

If you love to shoot macro but don’t want to spend a lot of money on a dedicated macro lens and want a light, sharp, and compact lens then we would rate the product as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Samyang AF 75mm f 1.8 FE

Above: Sony 24-105mm & NiSi Close Up Lens.  @105mm – f8 – 1/125 – ISO 5000. Handheld.

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The Price

The NiSi Close-up Lens Kit is not cheap but compared to a dedicated Macro Lens it is a bargain. We bought a 2nd hand Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 Model 272E a few years ago for AUD$350 and this is a fantastic lens. It is a Nikon mount lens that we use with an adapter on our Sony cameras (manual focus only). To buy new, these currently sell in Australia for AUD$500-600. For the latest version of the Tamron 90mm – the SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD – Model F017, it will cost you in excess of AUD$1,000. A Nikon or Canon macro lens with approximately the same focal length will cost you even more.

At the time of writing the prices are as follows –

NiSi Close-up Lens Kit – 58mm: Australia – AUD$119.00 incl. GST / Adorama USD$79.00 + Delivery
NiSi Close-up Lens Kit – 77mm: Australia AUD$219.00 incl. GST / Adorama USD$139.00 + Delivery

If you have an Australian mailing address you can click on the Australia links above or contact us to get a better price than the above as we are NiSi Australia resellers. Australian prices also include FREE DELIVERY.

Other equipment mentioned in this post can be purchased at the following links –

Sony A7Riii Mirrorless Camera – Buy here at Adorama / Buy in Australia
Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 – Buy here at Adorama / Buy in Australia
Sony FE 70-200mm f/4  Buy here at Adorama / Buy in Australia
Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED
Buy here at Adorama / Buy in Australia
Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 Model 272E  Buy here at Adorama / Buy in Australia
Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD – Model F017  Buy here at Adorama / Buy in Australia

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