Reverse Lens Macro Photography: A Beginner’s Guide

Reverse Lens Macro Photography: The Beginner’s Guide

reverse lens macro photography: a guide

If you want to capture beautiful close-up images but don’t want to spend hundreds (or thousands) on a macro lens , after that you’ve come to the right location.

Because in this post, I’m going to explain all you need to know about reverse lens macro photography . It’s a simple technique that lets you turn a standard zoom lens into a macro lens so you can capture photos like this:

droplet of water on a flower

In fact , if you already own a 50mm prime lens or a regular kit lens (in the particular 18-55mm focal length range), then the reverse lens macro technique is the least expensive way to capture magnified images.

So let’s dive right in, starting with the absolute basics:

What is reverse lens macro pictures?

Reverse zoom lens macro photography is a technique of capturing highly magnified pictures using an interchangeable lens digital camera, a lens, and an inexpensive adapter. You turn your own lens around so the back element points outward, then use an adapter to attach the reversed lens to your digital camera body (or to another lens).

In other words: You take your lens. You change it around. And you will be able to shoot at macro magnifications.

When you have never seen the invert lens macro technique, it may seem a bit strange – in the end, why does reversing a standard lens let you shoot at high magnifications?

But it really does work, and the diagram below shows why. In normal use, a 50mm lens focuses light from far away to create a much smaller picture, one that fits onto film or a digital sensor (which is often around 35mm wide). Reverse the lens as well as the opposite occurs: the 50mm lens magnifies what it sees, giving near life-size duplication:

diagram showing how reverse lens photography works

Learn how to do reverse lens photography

There are 2 different ways you can use the reverse zoom lens macro technique:

1 . Single lens invert macro

This method involves reverse-mounting one zoom lens to the front of your camera. First, purchase a reversing ring (also known as a reverse ring) like this one:

reversing ring for macro photography

You can buy these adapters for less on Amazon . One side screws onto the end of your zoom lens like a filter, while the some other attaches to your lens attach. Here’s a reversing ring in action:

reversed lens attached to a Canon 40D

Note that the reverse macro technique works best if you use a lens with a manual aperture ring. That way, you can end down to increase the zone associated with sharpness (which is very useful because level of field decreases as you get nearer to your subject).

Unfortunately, if your reversed lens doesn’t have a manual aperture ring, you won’t have the ability to make any f-stop changes and you’ll be forced to work at your lens’s maximum aperture. But while this can be undesirable, don’t let it stop you – you can use a turned lens at its largest aperture to take some lovely photos. You just have to get innovative!

2 . Dual lens reverse macro

This reverse lens macro technique is much less popular but will get the work done. Instead of reverse-mounting one lens to your camera, a person mount one lens usually, then reverse mount the second lens on the front side of the first, like this:

twin lens reverse macro in action
I’ve attached a reversed 50mm lens to my 85mm prime lens. In this setup, the 85mm lens is known as the main lens and the reversed lens is called the secondary zoom lens .

The actual mechanics are usually nearly identical to the individual lens technique discussed over; simply purchase a coupler band (shown below). Then utilize it to mount the second lens to the first.

macro coupler ring for twin lens photography

Now, when using the dual lens reverse macro method, the reversed lens works like a powerful close-up filtration system, except that it’s stronger than any filter I have encountered. In fact , the dual lens technique offers two major benefits over the solitary lens technique:

  1. It offers insanely shut magnifications. Depending on the focal lengths you use, you can achieve up to 3x life-size reproduction. (That’s three times as close as most professional macro lenses! )
  2. It improves your depth of field flexibility. You can leave the particular reversed lens open from its widest aperture, whilst stopping down the primary lens to increase depth of field (even if you don’t have a guide aperture ring).

Note that you can do this method with essentially any lens, though the longer the focal length, the more magnification you’ll achieve. What’s most important would be that the filter thread sizes at the two lenses match – that way, you can buy a coupler ring that will easily join them together.

(If your lens have different filter strings, you do have the option of purchasing the step-up ring in addition to your coupler ring, but this could be inconvenient. )

Caring for the reversed zoom lens

The invert macro technique does leave the rear element of your turned lens open to the elements, regardless of which method you use. Therefore you should always work carefully to prevent scratching the exposed component.

lens with extension tube

For those who have an extension tube, you can connect it to the back (now front) of the reversed lens, as I did in the photo above. This helps protect the trunk element and also acts as a zoom lens hood.

Also, because of the risks to the lens, I’d recommend using relatively cheap glass, like a 50mm f/1. 8 .

Image sharpness

The reversed lens technique gets you so close to your subject that it’s virtually impossible to handhold the camera. For the sharpest outcomes, use a tripod to keep the particular camera steady and make use of a cable release to fire the shutter.

We find it best to use a reverse lens macro setup inside, especially for delicate subjects like flowers . If you try it outside, the slightest breeze can proceed the flower and ruin the photo.

Of course , you can always embrace the blurry result and create a few interesting abstract shots – but if your goal is to develop magnified-yet-sharp photos, you’ll need to follow this advice closely.

If possible, stop down your primary lens to at least f/4. That way, you’ll get increased depth of industry, and if you’re using the cal king lens technique, it’ll assist you to avoid the softening that may happen when the first lens is at its widest aperture environment.

How to gentle reverse lens photography

close-up of bubbles

As long as you do not mind using a tripod plus long shutter speeds to obtain the required exposure, natural light works just fine.

Nevertheless , flash is also an option. And you also don’t need a specialized macro flash – I use a Canon Speedlite with a little softbox (though you’ll possibly want to make sure you’re using an off-camera flash to avoid dark areas cast by the lens).

A flash and a softbox were every I needed to take the picture featured above. Here’s the diagram of the setup:

flash setup for reverse macro photography

In general, I’d recommend you start with sun light, unless you’re relatively familiar with artificial lighting. That way, you can experiment with different lighting qualities and directions and you don’t have to worry about complex lighting techniques.

What zoom lens should you use for reverse macro shooting?

kit lens with 18-55mm focal length

I’ve used the 50mm prime lens for the photos featured throughout this post. And a nifty fifty is a great way to get started with reverse zoom lens macro photography.

But don’t forget that you could try this out with just about any lens (though I do suggest using a cheaper option, just in case your lens gets damaged). Kit lenses like the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3. 5-5. 6 WILL BE II (pictured above) work great.

Reverse lens macro photography: conclusion

Now that you’ve finished this post, you should be able to confidently develop a macro photography setup ( without spending lots of money on a dedicated macro lens).

Reverse lens macro picture taking is a lot of fun, so order your reverse ring and get shooting!

Now over to you:

Do you prefer the single lens reverse macro technique or the twin zoom lens reverse macro technique? Do you have any tips for improved macro photography? Share your thoughts in the comments below!





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