If you are into macro photography, you probably already have a macro lens. Or three. And in this case you know how much they cost. If you are just getting interested in macro, there my be a better option than macro lens – at least price-wise.
Macro lens can cost from about $200 and it goes up from there. But if you are not that serious about macro photography, you can consider a diopter lens. It’s a “poor man’s macro”, and it’s not actually a lens. When you attach a macro lens, you screw it directly onto the camera’s body. When it comes to a diopter lens, you screw it onto your regular lens to take close-up shots.
On the minus side, diopter lens has a subtle curve or warp around the edges and minor visual impurities. I used to play a bit with Raynox DCR-250 Snap-On Lens, and I noticed the same problem. Macro lenses are designed to avoid these imperfections and give you true 1:1 ratio images. Also, with a diopter, you can only focus a few inches away from the subject, unlike with macro lenses. But still, if you need close-up shots, you need close-up focusing too, I suppose.
But there are definitely situations when you can discard the bad sides of diopter lenses. First, it’s the price. Opteka diopter lens from the video cost only $25, and there are even cheaper models. At this price, it gives quite an impressive image quality. The imperfections generally connected to these lenses are almost non-existent. It gives you 10x magnification, which is enough at least for the beginning.
This type of macro “lens” is great for beginners and those who are just getting started with macro photography. If you like how it works, you can always get a proper lens and go on shooting macro, since a diopter will not take that much out of your budget. And if not, you can invest in some other piece of equipment and play with a diopter when you are bored at home on a cold December evening.