Review Hoya Zoom Close Up Accessory Lens

Paul C

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Carrying a dedicated Maco lens can be heavy and bulky as well as expensive - and while close up dioptre "lenses" screwed into the front filter of a standard prime lens CAN be good - it is a bother to decide just which to use when out for the day or to carry the magnification tables and ruler needed to optimise this equipment. As I have learned from the postings representing the combined wisdom of the MU43 readership, better image quality comes from using a compund lens Apochromat close up - with 2 lenses to correct for Chromatic Aberration. Nikon, Canon and Rayonox, among others, have sold those Apochromat designs. Better quality comes at higher cost - and I have found that these items go for a premium on auction sites.

So I took interest when I saw a lot of "Hoya Zoom Close Up" accessory lenses on auction sites.
They are small, and seem to be available in 49 and 52mm thread. When one came up for £1.00 / $1.25 USD I bid and won.

The design is a variable magnification apochromat, 2 lens element design in an aluminum body with very smooth focus conrol over a 270-degree turn. Hoya build quality is excellent. They come with a neat "leather" carry case and push on lens caps for each end.

I have just tried it attached onto a "no name" Chinese M4/3 native mount 50mm F1.8 lens from Cheecar/Fujian, hand held at about 1/60th of a second with typically dull UK winter window light on an overcast day and set at F8 - despite that dreadful approach to maco-photography this represents the likley "worst case" of how the lens might be used "in the field". Despite all that "bad practice" the performance is surprisingly good!

I don't "pixel peep" - I print to 7x5 or 10x8 or show photos on a laptop or an HD TV Screen. I have no doubt that zoomed to 100% there will be many MU43 readers who will pinpoint many faults. However in the real world - the performace beats my single lens "non-apochromat" close-up filters - and it is far, far more convenient than trying out dioptre accessory lenses one by one or getting out the magnification tables!

Specifications
Attached to a lens set to infinity focus, this will zoom you to between 10 and 49 cm distance.
Once you bring the base lens to close focus, you can fill the frame with a stamp, suggesting this reaches near 1:2 - or just centimes from the object.
Adverts sugges these came in at least 49 and 52mm thread mounts - suggesting that they should fit most of the 50mm prime lenses that M4/3 photographers might consider adapting.

Here is the 50mm prime lens at maximum close focus showing the Hoya Zoom - next to a casio watch
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ocus -


And now with the Hoya attached and at near maximum zoom close up .
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And for the creative amongst you - here is an artistic use - with great bokeh !
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Alternatives
Now, I do have a true maco lens (the Wonderful Vivitar 55mm Macro), as well as a box of fixed diopte accessory lenses..... but this this "Hoya Zoom Close-Up" looked to be so potentially useful to throw in a rucksack on days out that I wanted to try it out.

I won the bid at GBP £1.00 / USD $1.25 and with post it cost me a total of GBP £5.00 / About $7 USD. So - if you are stuck for a useful close up system and can't abide messing about with a box of dioptre lenses (+1, +2. +4, +10 seems typical) or justify the cost of an Apochromat close up or a true macro lens - can I suggest this as an affordable alternative?

Key Lessons learned in the first 30 minutes of ownership -
  • As with all macro - the prime lens needs to be set at F5.6 to F8 for best image quality.
  • If you are serious about Macro Photography - you will have a tripod or dedicated maco lens bench and will use focus stacking to build greater depth of field
    • but please don't let this put you off as close-up photography can be enjoyed by us all with a basic camera, just a very little technical skill and a few pouds/dollars in your pocket to spend - as I hope to have shown today !
  • the best image quality relies on fast shutter speeds and accurate focus - both things in short supply with my tests done here just after the postman delivered it.
    • Given a sunny day and a bit more time and my reflected flash illumination - I am sure in time I will do better !
  • Autofocus is often slower and less accurate for macro photography than using the "zoom assist" or focus-peaking assistance (that you likley have built into you camera)
  • As with all macro kit - keep all lens surfaces clean.
    • These items are probaly 1980s era designs, and are about 40 years old - mine was "hazy" inside with oily residue clearly visible with the "flashlight test"
    • Cleaning is easy for this Hoya - just release the each of 3 grub screws on the focus ring about 1-2 turns and unscrew the helicoid right off to reach the inside lens surfaces. Clean the lens surfaces and rebuild. Then reset the grub screws tight with the focus mark back at infinity.
    • All this was done in <5 minutes with just 1 jeweller's screwdriver, a micro-fibre cloth and some alcohol based lens cleaning solution.
    • Remember that the helicoid has grease on it - so keep this clear of your lens surfaces and your clothes !
This exact Hoya model seems common - there are at least 10 on sale on a UK auction site today. Furthermore, there are several seemingly similar lenses badged as "Itorex" and others that look to be so similar in design that they are possibly all the same "generic" producer

If cost or the fear of "expert technique" is keeping you from trying out close-up photography - can I suggest you might try a bid for one of these? And - don't forget to make sure the cute carry case and the lens caps for each end are included in the price.

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Now I just want a warm sunny spring day to appear - and I will be out looking to better my first shots with this Hoya Zoom.

Wonder what macro photographers are on about? Can I suggest - check out two YouTube videos. They are nothing to do with me - they are by Micael Widell who has 35.6K subscribers for lots of very good reasons:
  • "4 Reasons Macro Photography is More Fun than Landscape Photography" -
  • "7 Foolproof Steps for a Perfect Macro Photo" - This is the sort of instruction I like because there is no messing about "just set F8, 1/250 (or fastest flash synch speed), ISO 200 and flash at 1/16th power" - and do you know, for nature macro, he is spot on with the advice!
Needless to say , I am expecting that there are several MU43 readers who will at once say - "I've got one of those and have far better pictures".......so please bring them on as there is always so much more to learn from each other.

Very best wishes to you all - Paul C in the UK
 

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archaeopteryx

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The design is a variable magnification apochromat, 2 lens element
Interesting gizmo. Do you have a source for the apo and element counts? I'm unable to find anything. Two element apo is optically improbable and apos are usually labeled as such. While two element achromats are common they're usually indicated achromat as well.

the performance beats my single lens "non-apochromat" close-up filters
If it's a competently designed cemented doublet (2/1) the spherical aberration will be an order of magnitude lower than singlet. Further improvement's possible if it's an air spaced doublet (2/2), though there's likely some penalty for the zooming. Neither achromaticity or apochromaticity is required.

I won the bid at GBP £1.00 / USD $1.25 and with post it cost me a total of GBP £5.00.
Nice! Looks like the couple of copies I could potentially pick up semi-locally are outrageously priced in comparison.

Nikon, Canon and Raynox, among others, have sold those apochromat designs.
Um, sorry, no, they haven't. The Canon 250D, 500D, Nikon 3T, 4T, 5T, and 6T are all achromat doublets. The Raynox DCR-150 and 250 are 3/2 formulas and neither achromatic or apochromatic (Raynox, Raynox). To the best of my knowledge, a 3/3 is the minimum complexity for apo with spherical lenses (Zeiss).

Nikon did make a line of 8/4 apo ELs (Jovic).

As with all macro - the prime lens needs to be set at F5.6 to F8 for best image quality.
I'd like to suggest qualifying this statement. Unless you were intending to make fairly specific statements about effective aperture at magnifications above those provided by the Hoya Zoom Close Up, it's incorrect for the Panasonic-Leica 45mm f/2.8 (Schroiff 2010 as well as, er, rather extreme pixel peeping on my copy at 16MP). Depending how exactly one defines macro a number of other lens tests might apply.
 

Paul C

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Best aperture for the Hoya Zoom Close-Up Lens

Thanks for the very useful comments archaeopteryx: I
have enjoyed the canon 250 and 500 doublet close up accessory lenses. Their fame (on MU43 and elsewhere) means that others are enjoying them too and the prices on auction sites are reflecting that! There seems to be a modern version of a doublet close up lens made by "Opteka" that I have seen mentioned on websites - but have yet to find one to test.

It seems there are many optical solutions to the problem of using high magnification accessory lenses for close focus where, without correction, such lenses would inevitably focus different wavelength light in different places.

Chromatic aberration of a single lens causes different wavelengths of light to have differing focal lengths.
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The classic optical engineering solution is to use 2 lenses made of different density glass instead of one. Wikipaedia lists 6 different "named" 2-lens engineering solutions to the problem with variants of cement, air or oil between two lenses of variable spacing, and I suspect that the different camera and lens makers each have their own unique solution. Naming the different engineering solutions can seem complicated - Littrow doublet, Fraunhofer doublet (Fraunhofer objective), Clark doublet, Oil-spaced doublet, Steinheil doublet, Dialyte........
  • 2 basic "names" of engineering solutions seem to recur
    • "Achromatic lenses" are corrected to bring two wavelengths (typically red and blue) into focus in the same plane while
    • "Apochromatic lenses" are designed to bring three wavelengths (typically red, green, and blue) into focus in the same plane.
    • but since the visible specturm is 7 colours, ROYGBIV, ultimately it is the real world image that matters
Does this matter? To me, the best solution must be to kindly ask MU43 readers to please continue to share their own experiences of "real life" testing with us ---- I have learned a lot from this and am constantly finding old threads from years past that solve a problem today ! Clearly, those doing archive or technical macro-photography have a different magnitude of requirements to photographers like me - who like nature close-ups out in the natural world.

Which aperture to use with a Hoya Zoom Close-Up Lens? I shot a series of apertures to test performance. The "Bloom and glow" with the Hoya at near full magnification and with a 50mm prime at F1.8 is what made me take the Hoya Lens apart to clean - without changing the effect! By F5.6 to F8 I couldn't see a difference from further aperture changes on resolution or contrast. For artistic effects - twist the ring and pick your aperture! My advice would be to try the same with whatever combination of lens and accessory lens you favour to find what works best for you.

Hoya Zoom Close-Up Lens on a 50mm prime at F1.8
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Yes - lenses designed to optimise close focus CAN be great even at wide apertures but even then you are hostage to a very narrow depth of focus. Olympus got over the optical problems with the fast apeture & close-focus OM lenses in the 1980s by adding "floating" internal correction elements. Today's high density glass and computer designed aspheric/achromatic/apochromatic lens shapes seem to have raised the bar by another step - but all this comes at a cost of size, weight, mechanical fragility and expense.

The design of the wonderful new Olympus 100mm F2.8 Macro IS Pro: with about 15 lens elements and 30 lens to air or lens to lens interfaces - is there anything more complex currently made for M4/3?
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As with your experience - my Komine/Vivitar 55mm macro is also good wide open at F2.8 when photographing flat subjects and with a tripod to stop movement drifting me out of focus. But its a "one trick pony" as it isn't so great at longer distances and so makes it into my camera bag when I am very sure that it is close up pictures that I will be shooting to make up for the weight of the lens. In contrast - the Hoya Zoom Close-Up Lens weighs just 210g - including all lens caps and the leather carry case.

However in the real world, outdoors photographing nature in 3D, I have found that using a burst of fill-in flash to stop movement (and a 50-100mm lens on M4/3 to give a suitable distance to avoid flash shadows from the lens) & F8 for depth of field gives me more keepers!

Interestingly - it is with these "short telephoto" lenses that accessory dioptre lenses seem to work best. For more wide-angle views, the best effect seems to come from using extension tubes to gain close focus. For those on a very tight budget - the c-mount Fujian 35mm lens with its simple extension rings must be the best value introduction to close-up photography available for M4/3 cameras as the whole set up - todays best price I have found with a quick search across 3 different auction sites - with the lens + M4/3 adapter + 2 x extension rings is $15.74 !
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The variable distance multi-lens design of the Hoya Zoom is easy to see - because the Hoya Zoom Close-Up Lens is very simple to take apart and clean. Because of the "zoom" design with variable magnification, there has to be an air interface between the differnt internal lenses.

This ability to easily clean the lenses seems to be a plus point to me when reviewing 40 year old equipment. It appears that near all the old lenses I have got from auction sites have haze on the interior of the rear lens element - is this vaporised oil from the aperture mechanism as it flicks open and closed? Remember - that even the mighty Nikon Corporation had this problem with a recent new DSLR shutter design vaporising lubricating oil into the mirror and sensor!

Dirt and haze on the rear lens elements matters especially with M4/3 cameras as the rear lens element is so close to the sensor. Fortunately, many film era MF lenses have rear elements that unscrew easily with a spanning wrench and can be cleaned and put back with little risk of de-centering afterwards. My experiences with wide-angle film lenses is that one "repair" step makes the most difference in subsequent lens performance - followed by always using as long a lens hood as is possible without vignetting.

Overall, for 210g weight packed up in its case, and the current prices on auction sites and the many examples available today to bid for, this Hoya Zoom Close-Up Lens looks to be yet another useful solution to the problem of close up photography to weigh up.

The "USP" --
For me, with all the range of kit in a cupboard at home to choose from, its extra value of this piece of equipment is in the variable "zoom" function - for that makes the Hoya a good "one item" solution of what to pack in my camera bag for a day out!

Unless your New Year's Resolution was not to indulge in more GAS - then others of you out there might enjoy trying out an example as well. Mine cost less than coffee for 2 at Starbucks - and will certainly give a longer lasting and calorie-free pleasure!
 

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archaeopteryx

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Thanks for the very useful comments
You're welcome. To speak to your question of whether it matters, I think what underlies your writing is the notion of optical power. Succinctly, the shorter its focal length the more power a lens has and the greater the amount of correction need for a given image quality. Not sure if you've recognized the Hoya and achromat doublets as coupled lens pairs (description and magnification formula over at Extreme Macro if you haven't) but the primary reason two element close up lenses are successful is they've long focal lengths (~100-500 mm in the case of the Hoya), slow apertures (often effectively below f/5.6), and therefore limited aberrations given their restricted formulas. It also helps relatively few people focus stack through them and low depth of field at magnification makes aberrations more difficult to see in image review.

I focus stack virtually every image and retouch stacks at 100-300%. Whilst I use some 1980s lenses for cost reasons, they suffer from red spherochromaticity and the resulting coloured halos can be time consuming to correct. Semi-apochromats currently in production are decidedly more expensive but can make the workflow quite a bit quicker.

The design of the wonderful new Olympus 100mm F2.8 Macro IS Pro
The patent may or may not be what Olympus eventually ships but a 15/11 formula isn't notable for complexity.
  • Panasonic 50-200 f/2.8-4 21/15
  • Panasonic-Leica 100-400 f/4-6.3 20/13
  • Olympus 75-300 f/4.8-6.7 18/13
  • Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 18/13
  • Olympus 8mm 17/15
  • Tamron 14-150 f/3.5-5.8 17/13
  • Panasonic 100-300 f/4-5.6 17/12
  • Panasonic-Leica 10-24mm f/1.7 17/12
  • Olympus 12-100 f/4 17/11
  • Olympus 300mm f/4 17/10
  • Sigma 16mm f/1.4 16/13
  • Panasonic 7-14 f/4 16/12
  • Panasonic-Leica 200mm f/2.8 15/13
  • Panasonic 12mm f/1.4 15/12
  • Panasonic-Leica 45mm f/2.8 Macro-Elmarit 14/10
  • Olympus 60mm f/2.8 13/10

It is actually an infinite number of colors.
Can we settle on more than seven and less than infinity? By way of example, NOAO has a nice image of the sun's Fraunhofer lines as well as those of a few other stars.
 
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Stanga

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Nice find! I shall certainly look out for one. I have the Panasonic apochromatic close up lens, and use it with the Pana 45-175mm. But it was an expensive buy for me at the time.
 

archaeopteryx

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If you're referring to the DMW-LC55 it's a 1/1 (B&H). Neither achromatic or apochromatic.
 
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Stanga

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If you're referring to the DMW-LC55 it's a 1/1. Neither achromatic or apochromatic.
I had a quick look on the available info and it does say that it's an achromatic lens. There are two elements in the assembly. The great sage Graham Houghton has a review of it on YouTube and he too mentions that it's achromatic.
 

archaeopteryx

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Citations, please. I scrubbed the three of Graham's videos which seemed most likely relevant and it did not appear any measurements were presented or any disassembly conducted. Despite additional searching beyond what I already did for the previous post I'm unable to locate any source which claims two elements or achromaticity, including Panasonic's legacy product pages. However, based digging through eBay to find better images of the DMW-LC55 than the ones I looked at earlier I'm not entirely willing to exclude 2/1.

Single element achromats are possible but I'm not aware of any manufacturing process which would make them cost competitive with achromat doublets.
 
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I've got one of these on the way and will post again when I've had the chance to use it.

I'm assuming it's not a good idea to put it on an af lens as the additional weight will put additional strain on the ultrasonic focus motor?
 

Stanga

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Citations, please. I scrubbed the three of Graham's videos which seemed most likely relevant and it did not appear any measurements were presented or any disassembly conducted. Despite additional searching beyond what I already did for the previous post I'm unable to locate any source which claims two elements or achromaticity, including Panasonic's legacy product pages. However, based digging through eBay to find better images of the DMW-LC55 than the ones I looked at earlier I'm not entirely willing to exclude 2/1.

Single element achromats are possible but I'm not aware of any manufacturing process which would make them cost competitive with achromat doublets.
Panasonic have on their website the information on the design of the DMW-LC55E at https://www.panasonic.com/au/consum...camera-accessories/accessories/dmw-lc55e.html
it clearly states that it is a 2 lens design
Graham Houghton mentions in the comments section that the DMW-LC55E is an achromatic design. Look for his replies going back to 6 years towards the bottom of the page at
 

archaeopteryx

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DMW-LC55E
Ah. Presumably the DMW-LC55E replaced the single element DMW-LC55 at some point. I wasn't aware of the former as it didn't come up in search hits for some reason (yay Google) and doesn't appear on either of the two lists of achromat close up lenses I usually refer to.
 

Stanga

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I received my copy of the Hoya today. I gave it a try on the P45-175mm. Seems to be useable up to 100mm with that lens before obvious image distortions ate visible on the camera screens. I shall play about with it over the next few days. I am far happier with the Hoya and its flexibility compared to the Raynox.
 
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Just received the Hoya close up lens and took a few shots. Here are a couple to compare:
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F/11 1/640sec
First one is with the lens on an Olympus 50mm f/1.8 OM fit manual focus lens. For some reason this is a bit underexposed but no complaints about sharpness.
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F/10 1/320 sec
The second shot is with the 14-42mm kit lens at 42mm and a 16mm extension tube. Seems equally sharp. I adjusted the exposure by +0.3 stops but as you can see the camera has added a further 0.7 stops as the image on the sensor is not as bright with extension tubes.

Comments welcome
 
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Looks like this thread has run out of steam, but I'd like to thank Paul C for making me aware of this lens (even though I had to pay £6.35 for mine!) I guess if you're really into macro you'll invest in a macro lens but imho this is great as a "fun" lens.

Just for fun I tried this lens in combination with 26mm extension tubes on an Oly F Zuiko 38mm f/1.8. This is a close up of an orchid flower, very narrow DOF and pretty soft, but quite pleasing - to me anyway.
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