Macro Photography on the Cheap
July 28, 2008 5:46 AM   Subscribe

Macro Photography on the Cheap (film camera or digital). Reverse Ring tags and a roundup discussion on Flickr. All you need is an SLR body (scratch that: you can even do it with a point and shoot) and reverse ring for your camera mount, and a lens whose filter size matches the reverse ring (doesn't even have to be the same mount as your camera!). Or, make one from a body cap. How/why it works, tips on shooting reverse macro, and even a podcast on the subject. It's even possible to do EXTREME closeups. Come to think of it, why not try this with video? Now, need to get some light on your macro subjects? Make a cheap LED ring light, or go low tech. Make tons of more stuff for your creative photography needs at DIY Photography.
posted by spock (11 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
You focus by moving your camera lens the proper distance from your subject. The amount of magnification will depend mostly upon the focal length of the lens you have reversed (and secondarily, the distance that lens is from the film/sensor plane).
posted by spock at 5:51 AM on July 28, 2008

That ring diffuser thing is pretty brill.

Photography isn't really my bag, but DIY, especially a DIY community, definitely is. So thanks for this great post.
posted by DU at 6:17 AM on July 28, 2008

You too can take close-up photos of random stuff you find on your desk.
posted by smackfu at 6:34 AM on July 28, 2008

Rather than the reverse ring, I ended up with the extension tubes.

Works quite well. And yea, focus is 'move he camera'
posted by rough ashlar at 6:49 AM on July 28, 2008

Ja, I also prefer extension tubes. If ya want to get funky, you get/make a focus rail that allows you to move the camera in very small increments back and forth.

Alas, ultra close macro photography is really cool and the results can be amazing, but rarely have great aesthetic value. But I always enjoy looking anyway :)
posted by Bovine Love at 7:14 AM on July 28, 2008

Alas, ultra close macro photography is really cool and the results can be amazing, but rarely have great aesthetic value.


Anyway, extension tubes are great fun. I got a set almost a month ago. Self-link.

A ring light would be nice, but my external flash actually does a decent job.
posted by starman at 8:17 AM on July 28, 2008

I got a set almost a month ago. Self-link.

Cool! I love the closest of the praying mantis photos. But get those fucking spiders the fuck away from me!!!! FUCK!!!!

posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 8:44 AM on July 28, 2008

I did this and got some really cool results, but one thing that presented a problem was the fact that since the lens was reversed, there was no good way of controlling the aperture, and with the lens I was using, it meant that it was wide open, all the time. This gave me a depth of field of about 5mm, which was kind of neat at first, because I could take a picture of a penny, have the edge in focus and the head of Lincoln blurry, but it became apparent that for it to be of any value, I was going to have to modify it.

I used a piece of notecard, covered with matte black tape which fit into the back of the lens, and I experimented with a bunch of different hole sizes. I ended up going with one about 3mm across, which gave me a DOF of about 3 centimeters which made it much more usable for close up work.

The only real downside is that, if the subject is moving at all, many of your shots are going to be out of focus. Basically I solve this by setting the camera to high-speed advance and just burn 10 or so shots on everything I want to photograph. It helps to stack the odds in my favor that one of them will most likely be usable.

And after reading the dansdata link on ringlights awhile back, I lucked out and discovered that they sold them at Northern Tools, which made obtaining one really convenient, but with my macro, kind of hard to use. I found that an 3 watt LED headlamp strapped around the lens was perfect for getting me just the right amount of light pointed right where I needed it.
posted by quin at 10:17 AM on July 28, 2008

If you only want to have some quick fun, you don't even need a reverse ring. Just hold the lens with your hand. Be careful not to scratch the front glass, though.
posted by ikalliom at 11:47 AM on July 28, 2008

I used to do this all the time. I had an old 50mm lense that I could reverse on my point and shoot Panasonic FZ8. I even made a little LED ring light for it. To me it was frustrating, and you had to literally be within 1/2" of the subject. I've had much better luck with the Raynox DCR-150 and 250 clip on macro lenses.
posted by sanka at 12:54 PM on July 28, 2008

there was no good way of controlling the aperture

If you're using a Canon camera with a DOF (depth of field) button, all you have to do is manually set your aperture, press and hold the DOF button while removing the lens. The lens will revert back to its largest aperture after remounting it on your lens.

I've done this a few times without any ill effects yet.
posted by pombiki at 7:45 PM on July 28, 2008

« Older Mead Day 2008   |   History Lessons Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments