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Often somewhat “backward considering” could be a good factor, particularly on the subject of developing with a cheap technique to do macro images. Positive, you’ll be able to shell out just a few hundred {dollars} for a pleasant macro lens. You would possibly give extension tubes or bellows a strive, and even purchase some closeup diopter lenses. However what if I informed you the way you may use that previous movie digicam lens and an adapter simply bought for underneath $15 to make some good macro photos? May that not be an excellent and cheap technique to discover the macro world? Nice… now get able to “suppose backwards.”

Sure, actually… You have to to suppose backward to make the most of what is known as “Reverse-Lens Macro Images.” You may be mounting a lens backward in your digicam so what is generally the entrance of the lens is the half that attaches to your digicam. Earlier than we take a look at how to do that, let’s first outline “macro images.”

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The Reverse Lens Macro Method is a good way to enter the world of macro images economically.

What’s “true” macro?

Many lens producers point out their lens has “macro functionality” and so they would possibly even put the phrase “macro” on the lens. These lenses certainly permit you to focus intently in your topic. Nonetheless, within the true sense of the time period, a macro photograph is one by which the dimensions of the picture recorded on the digicam sensor is identical dimension (or bigger) than the bodily object photographed – a 1:1 magnification ratio or better.

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This may be a close-up, however isn’t a “true” macro {photograph}.

Right here’s a sensible instance: A U.S. Quarter is 0.955 inches (24.26 mm) in diameter. A full-frame digital digicam sensor measures 24mm x 36mm. So shot with a real macro lens on a full-frame digicam, the uncropped picture under represents a 1:1 magnification ratio or a real macro {photograph}. On a crop sensor digicam the place the sensor is 14.9×22.2mm (Canon) a 1:1 shot of 1 / 4 would greater than fill the body. So, if the lens you’re utilizing can’t focus shut sufficient to fill the body with 1 / 4, it may be a close-up lens however isn’t a real macro. Don’t be fooled by cropped photos both. A picture could be cropped tighter in modifying, however that alone doesn’t make it a “macro” photograph.

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It is a full-frame shot. Discover the width of the shot is about 36mm, the dimensions of the digicam sensor. It is a true 1:1 macro shot.

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I shot this picture with the reverse Pentax 50mm lens. It’s not giving “true” macro magnification

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This Is how shut I might get with the reversed Vivitar zoomed out to 28mm. Bear in mind, the broader the focal size, the nearer you may get to your topic.

Does it matter? No, not likely. The enjoyable is getting near your topic. Shut sufficient to see belongings you may not be capable of see together with your unaided eye. Whether or not it’s a “true macro” could not matter except you might be coming into a contest the place solely true macro pictures are allowed. How shut you may get will depend on the gear you might have. How shut is shut sufficient? Nicely, that’s a creative judgment.

Earlier than we begin… some cautions

Anytime you’re taking the lens off your digital digicam you expose the sensor and the insides to mud. You may be taking your lens off for this process. In case you aren’t putting one other (reversed) lens onto the digicam, use a physique cap to maintain mud out till you might be prepared.

While you do put the reverse lens in your digicam, know that the again finish with its related controls, connection pins, rear component and such may also be uncovered. Use a rear cap on it whenever you’re not working together with your set-up. Apply the identical cautions you employ almost about mud and all can be advantageous.

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Strange objects like this set of keys develop into topics for attention-grabbing pictures when seen as macro photos.

Macro choices

There are a number of methods to make macro pictures.

These embody:

  1. A Devoted Macro Lens – The simplest however the costliest
  2. Extension tubes or a bellows which improve the space between the lens and the sensor
  3. Magnifying lenses (diopters) put in entrance of an current lens
  4. Reversing a lens on the digicam – That is the approach we’ll be educating right here.

What lenses work?

Nearly any lens can work for this method together with these you often use in your digital digicam. Do you wish to see? Take the lens off your digicam, maintain it backward and tight to the digicam physique, activate the digicam and get shut – very near a topic. Transfer very barely towards and away from the topic to focus. The main focus ring has little affect.

You’ll be able to see this method proven on quite a few on-line movies and whereas it could offer you a macro in a pinch, it’s not very sensible. Making an attempt to carry the digicam with a unfastened lens and adjusting focus may be okay in case you’re within the discipline and don’t have anything higher, however it’s hardly optimum.

You’ll additionally observe that when you disconnect the lens from the digicam, you not have autofocus or aperture management. The digicam could present a clean the place the f/cease would usually be. I’ve seen the approach the place you set the aperture with the lens on the digicam, push the depth-of-field preview button after which disconnect the lens, so the aperture stays fastened at that setting. Proper… funky at finest. Let’s educate you the way to do that proper.

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Previous movie digicam lenses are good for this method as they often have an aperture ring on the lens.

Bought an previous movie digicam lens?

In case you’re an previous man like me, you bear in mind movie. You would possibly even have your previous movie digicam and some lenses for it kicking round. If not, movie digicam lenses are low-cost at pawn retailers, on-line, and even at storage gross sales. For this method, lens model or mount kind doesn’t matter because you’re not going to be connecting the lens to the digicam within the ordinary means. Nearly ANY lens will work as long as it has filter threads on the entrance.

The lenses I used with my previous Pentax ME Tremendous movie digicam are a 50mm Pentax lens with a 49mm filter ring and a Vivitar 28-105mm zoom with a 72mm filter ring. The factor to recollect when utilizing reversed lenses is the broader the focal size, the nearer you may get to your topic. A zoom lens provides you a “variable macro.”

The most important cause previous movie digicam lenses work finest for that is, in contrast to most digital lenses, they’ve aperture management rings on the lens. You gained’t have aperture management from the digicam, so having it on the lens is ideal.

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Reversing rings are what you might want to mount your lens backward in your digicam.

Setting all of it up

Right here’s the place the “backward considering” is available in. To mount your lens to your digicam you might want to connect it backward. It’s good to use an adapter with male threads on one finish and the right mount kind on your digicam on the opposite finish.

In my case, I used a Canon EOS mount so I might connect the lens to my Canon 6D. I purchased two Reversing Ring adapters, one with 72mm threads on one finish and a Canon EOS mount on the opposite. The second, with 49mm threads and a Canon EOS mount on the opposite. Mine are low-cost Fotodiox rings, at $7.95 US every for the 49mm, and 72mm from Amazon. The issues to recollect when shopping for these is to get the right filter thread dimension and digicam mount kind.

They’re accessible for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Panasonic, and lots of different digicam mount varieties.

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This, shot with the reversed Pentax 50mm may be a close-up, however isn’t a “true” macro {photograph}.

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That is shot with the reversed Vivitar at 28mm giving much more than a 1:1 macro magnification. Observe how sliver-thin the depth-of-field is

The mechanics of creating your macros – a step-by-step method to creating this work

Mount the lens

Screw the adapter to the lens filter threads after which mount the lens (backward in fact) to the digicam. Select the lens you need by contemplating how a lot magnification you need – Shorter focal lengths permit you to get near the topic with extra magnification, longer focal lengths permit you to be farther from the topic.

With my lenses, the 50mm Pentax prime gave somewhat greater than a 1:1 ratio. The Vivitar 28-105mm zoom at 28mm was virtually a 2:1 ratio. At 105, it was extra a “close-up” quite than a macro lens and round 70mm was 1:1.

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That is the Vivitar 28-105 reverse-mounted on a Canon 6D.

Use a tripod

The magnification of macro drastically amplifies any digicam motion and, with very restricted depth of discipline, attempting to work handheld can be irritating, if not inconceivable. If there’s any wind, taking pictures exterior in all probability gained’t work both.

Topic Choice

Your depth of discipline with this method can be sliver-thin, generally only some millimeters. Learners would possibly wish to begin with topics with minimal depth and shoot them, in order that they lie in the identical “focal aircraft” because the digicam. Stamps, cash, paper payments, or different flat objects are nice, particularly whenever you’re studying the approach.


You’ll typically be actually near your topic and in your individual gentle. You’ll even be wanting to make use of smaller apertures to get extra depth of discipline, additional lowering gentle. Get inventive with the way you gentle your topic.

Digicam settings – Use Guide Mode

It is possible for you to to regulate ISO and Shutter Pace, however not Aperture. Bear in mind, that’s on the lens ring.

Open the Aperture Ring all the way in which when you focus. Transfer the digicam or topic in tiny increments to get focus (the main target ring gained’t have a lot impact.) In case you’re utilizing a zoom, you need to use the zoom function that will help you focus. In case your digicam has Dwell View, use that. Use the Zoom function of Dwell View to amplify your picture and examine the essential focus. If not, you’ll have to make use of the viewfinder. Additionally, do not forget that autofocus doesn’t work right here and so LCD screens the place you contact to focus aren’t going to assist.
Cease down the Lens with the Aperture Ring when you’ve centered. Smaller apertures (like ordinary with all images) give better depth of discipline.

You’ll often be struggling to get extra depth of discipline in macro images! Additionally know that as you cease down the lens, issues get darker. It’s generally laborious to regulate the aperture ring with out bumping the main target barely, so be ready to refocus.

Making your pictures

Shoot, “chimp,” modify publicity, and repeat. To manage publicity usually adjusting shutter pace on the digicam ought to be the simplest. Anticipate to make LOTS of pictures, making changes as you go to get that “good shot.” Macro images could be “fiddly,” so get used to it.

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A focusing rail, like this one from Neewer, can drastically support you in making very advantageous focus changes.

Taking it to the following degree

In case you determine you want macro images and wish to make issues somewhat simpler and extra exact, chances are you’ll wish to put money into a Focus Rail. Mount this gadget to your tripod, and mount your digicam to it. Utilizing a system of advantageous gears and adjustment knobs, you’ll be able to transfer your digicam in tiny increments. Macro is a recreation of millimeter actions and acquiring extra exact management could be a large assist. Taking it up much more, one can purchase very refined rails, some with motorized, computer-controlled motion. In case you’re prepared for that, you’re not as prone to be utilizing the reversed lens approach. I’m fairly pleased with my Neewer Macro Focusing Rail which value underneath US$30.00.

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Even at f/22, the depth of discipline may be very restricted. Focus stacking would must be used to get this entire picture in focus.

Focus stacking

Typically extra is best, proper? When you’ll be able to’t get sufficient depth-of-field with one shot, taking a number of pictures (every centered to a simply barely totally different level), and mixing them in modifying to get a front-to-back depth of discipline, will be the reply. Photoshop has focus-stacking capabilities and for a newbie is an effective place to start out. While you’re able to dive deep into focus stacking, packages like Helicon Focus or Zerene Stacker are what the professionals use.

I’ve a good friend in our digicam membership who determined to pursue macro images in a giant means. He bought a motorized, programmable focus rail, a pleasant macro lens, bellows, extension tubes, after which makes use of Zyrene Stacker to assemble what are sometimes dozens of photos right into a single spectacular macro. I’m glad in the intervening time to make use of my reverse mounted movie digicam lenses, (although I did buy a devoted Tamron 90mm macro lens too).

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A member of my digicam membership made this shot utilizing the strategy of focus stacking. This shot, razor sharp by way of the shot, (powerful to do in a macro picture!) is definitely 118 pictures mixed with this system Zerene Stacker. This on-line picture doesn’t do it justice. As a print, it’s completely gorgeous! – Photograph by Robert Riddle.


One of many points of interest of images is that it teaches you to see after which share by way of your pictures, issues folks don’t ordinarily discover or see. Macro images takes {that a} step additional, opening up a tiny and unbelievable world of element. The reverse lens macro trick is one which lets you get a glimpse into this new world with minimal expenditure. I hope you’ll give it a strive!

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