How to Do Extreme Macro Photography Without a Dedicated Lens [VIDEO] - Digital Photography School

How to Do Extreme Macro Photography Without a Dedicated Lens [VIDEO]

Have you ever wanted to experiment with macro photography but didn’t have the budget to buy a dedicated macro lens?

In this video Jim from ProPhotolife shows us a trick using two lenses that you might already have to achieve 1:1 magnification.


quick video 4, extreme macro photography trick from Jim Talkington on Vimeo.

As he mentions in the video – if you like this technique you can purchase a reversing ring that will allow you to do it without needing to manually hold the lenses together with your spare hand.

Have fun – and don’t forget to share the results of this technique in the Macro Section of our forum!

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like...

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category.

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn @ My Home Sweet Home

    Oh, my goodness, that is cool! Can’t wait to try it – thanks for the tip!

  • http://natalienortonphoto.com Natalie Norton

    wow. WOW.

    The end.

  • http://www.seimeffects.com Seim Effects

    Now that’s a sweet tips guys. Gonna have to try it myself. Twittering now!

    Gavin
    seimeffects.com

  • http://acowboyswife.com A Cowboy’s Wife

    I’ll be darned! How cool is that….I’m gonna have to give that a try! Thanks for the tip:)

  • Bob

    Fantastic!! I’m going to have me some fun with this! wow

  • http://www.newmediaphotographer.com Rosh

    I’ve not seen that before. Very cool. I enjoy macro photography. It’s like looking into another world. The geek in me really likes that.

    Rosh
    http://www.newmediaphotographer.com

  • http://neil.creek.name/blog Neil Creek

    Another awesome video from ProPhoto Life, thanks for sharing Darren! Reversing a lens is a great technique I have yet to try, but really should!

    I’ve gone another route with a cheap ($30) set of macro extension tubes. They’re still cheap, and have quite a bit more flexibility, as you can change focus and don’t have to hold a lens on in front.

  • Eugene

    Wow this technique is awesome, i love it! The only problem I have right now is that when my old 50mm lens from my completely manual Canon film SLR (Canon FD 50) is not attached to the camera, the aperture isn’t wide open and in the macro photos only a circle in the middle of the picture is visible… anyone know how to open up the aperture when the lens is detached?

  • http://timmermann.tv Timmermann

    I’ve done this a couple of weeks ago – if somebody want a german description (deutsche Anleitung): Extreme Makroaufnahmen mit Kupplungsring

  • http://www.botter17.nl Marco Nedermeijer

    I actually did this a couple of years ago. I have a 70-300mm lens @300mm and front-to-front a 50mm lens.

    These are some pictures i took from ordinairy Salt and Sugar.

    salt: http://www.botter17.nl/fotolist.php?id=2292

    sugar: http://www.botter17.nl/fotolist.php?id=2291

  • Paul

    OK fine but why not doing it with a Macro Lens, you want to do nice photography then buy the right equipment…Macro from Canon with flash light for Macro Lenses also from Canon have sticking one lens on top of the other I wonder if you can do it up side down…probably you will not find the screws anymore ahahah

  • http://www.klaidas.lt Klaidas

    Surely, it’s an interesting idea, I’ve heard of it before, but never tried until today – and the results did surprise me in a pleasant way.

    BUT. The video says you get “close to 1:1 magnification”, which is, in my opinion, simple macro, not EXTREME macro. Now 5:1 would be pretty extreme (for example, Canon’s MP-E 65mil).

    It’s all good, but let’s not hype it, mkay? :)

    –Klaidas

  • fourplusadragon

    oh, my gosh! I’ve never seen nor heard of this.. I am so stinking excited about this posting. I have both lenses needed and LOVE macro. I’ve wanted to buy a macro lens but this is something i will defiantly try out NOW!

  • http://web.tampabay.rr.com/swilli41/www Suzanne

    Here’s a tip for those with fixed lens camera. I picked this up from a friend, now deceased, who was taking the most awesome photos of wasps. He held a magnifying glass in front of his lens. I took the following photo 8 years ago, using this method. I took it with my first digital camera, a Polaroid PDC 640, entered it in an online contest, and won.

    http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1169067446011388271SKpblF

  • Ernie Hatt

    First in answer to Paul, not everyone is the fortunate situation to be able to afford these luxuries. This is not a new idea, used to do it way back, but having recently aquired an Olympus E-410, and having some very old Pentax lenses I have been trying it once again, with some excellent results. Thanks Ernie

  • Sue

    Wow! This is really awesome! :D

  • Marc

    I would worry about dropping the other lens and getting a scratch. Just having the hand held lens exposed would worry me.

  • http://www.csorge.hu Pihe

    Sorry to ask, but why is 1:1 “extreme” macro? 1:1 magnification is THE macro, while ratios smaller than this (1:2, 1:3) are just simple close-ups. Ask a photographer who started back in the film days and he or she will probably agree.

    If you want extreme macro, get a 50mm extension tube, screw a 70-300mm lens @ 300mm and put a 50mm prime front to front. Then you’ll get extreme magnification.

  • Barry

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    I asked on several sites, including Nikon’s, about shooting macro. Everyone said “you have to have a macro lens stupid”.
    your answer was the one I needed.

  • http://droza.net/blog Tom

    I tried this last night and posted my attempts here: http://flickr.com/photos/tdroza/sets/72157606543453676/

    I’m pretty happy with the results. The hardest part was getting enough light onto the subject, and holding the camera steady because the DoF was so narrow and I couldn’t get close enough with a tripod.

  • http://photoeditmagic.blogspot.com Photochick

    WOW! That is SO stinkin cool! I wanna know who’s the brainiac who first found that out! At any rate, quite wonderful information – much appreciated! Some day when I’m feeling extra gutsy, I’m definitely giving ‘extreme macro shooting’ a try! Thanks again!

    ~ Amanda ~
    http://photoeditmagic.blogspot.com/

  • Hemi

    I found this an interesting way to attempt macro, so I tried it. I lack the lenses described in the video, so I just made do with my D-40 18-55 Nikkor lens, and a Sigma 70-300.

    Not being one to follow instructions, I put the 18-55 on the camera and used the Sigma as the additional lens. Here is what I got: http://www.9thaf.com/misc/macro.jpg

    A warning though, I got lucky in my experimentation. This next shot was done with the same lenses and is more representative of the failed shots I took:

    http://www.9thaf.com/misc/macro2.jpg

    Play around with your lens combinations.

  • Rob

    Great timing. I’ve been experimenting with this technique lately and taken some amazing images. It’s quite challenging but fun and whats more, you can make use of some of your old lenses that don’t fit your current camera. Depth of field is usually very shallow and I put my camera on “continuous exposure” and take a few shots as you will have to do the moving of the whole camera to focus. Also, if you are going to couple two lenses together with a reverse coupling ring, watch the weight on the joint and front of the camera. I also jam a small peice of cardboard into the apeture control to keep it open or light is very minimal, but do be careful. Cheers..Rob

  • Rob

    Oh, forgot to mention, forget about the tripod. It’s all handheld folks.

  • http://timelapseforum.com ziad chatila

    Is the focus on manual? im guessing?

  • Rob

    Yes manual everything. You will have to move the camera back and forth and the DOF is about as thick as a piece of cling film…lotsa fun images…lotsa rubbish too.

  • fourplusadragon

    I must be doing it wrong. All my images come out in a circle in the center of the shot. I don’t have the exact lens he is talking about. I’m using a 18-200mm and a 50mm. Does anyone know why this would happen?

  • bogart

    Most of the time I use a manual focusing for macro shooting, it gives more room to expolre different angles of the subject.

Some older comments

  • bogart

    August 12, 2008 12:45 pm

    Most of the time I use a manual focusing for macro shooting, it gives more room to expolre different angles of the subject.

  • fourplusadragon

    August 9, 2008 02:27 am

    I must be doing it wrong. All my images come out in a circle in the center of the shot. I don't have the exact lens he is talking about. I'm using a 18-200mm and a 50mm. Does anyone know why this would happen?

  • Rob

    August 8, 2008 03:13 pm

    Yes manual everything. You will have to move the camera back and forth and the DOF is about as thick as a piece of cling film...lotsa fun images...lotsa rubbish too.

  • ziad chatila

    August 8, 2008 02:33 pm

    Is the focus on manual? im guessing?

  • Rob

    August 8, 2008 07:08 am

    Oh, forgot to mention, forget about the tripod. It's all handheld folks.

  • Rob

    August 8, 2008 07:06 am

    Great timing. I've been experimenting with this technique lately and taken some amazing images. It's quite challenging but fun and whats more, you can make use of some of your old lenses that don't fit your current camera. Depth of field is usually very shallow and I put my camera on "continuous exposure" and take a few shots as you will have to do the moving of the whole camera to focus. Also, if you are going to couple two lenses together with a reverse coupling ring, watch the weight on the joint and front of the camera. I also jam a small peice of cardboard into the apeture control to keep it open or light is very minimal, but do be careful. Cheers..Rob

  • Hemi

    August 6, 2008 12:32 pm

    I found this an interesting way to attempt macro, so I tried it. I lack the lenses described in the video, so I just made do with my D-40 18-55 Nikkor lens, and a Sigma 70-300.

    Not being one to follow instructions, I put the 18-55 on the camera and used the Sigma as the additional lens. Here is what I got: http://www.9thaf.com/misc/macro.jpg

    A warning though, I got lucky in my experimentation. This next shot was done with the same lenses and is more representative of the failed shots I took:

    http://www.9thaf.com/misc/macro2.jpg

    Play around with your lens combinations.

  • Photochick

    August 5, 2008 10:44 pm

    WOW! That is SO stinkin cool! I wanna know who's the brainiac who first found that out! At any rate, quite wonderful information - much appreciated! Some day when I'm feeling extra gutsy, I'm definitely giving 'extreme macro shooting' a try! Thanks again!

    ~ Amanda ~
    http://photoeditmagic.blogspot.com/

  • Tom

    August 5, 2008 08:00 pm

    I tried this last night and posted my attempts here: http://flickr.com/photos/tdroza/sets/72157606543453676/

    I'm pretty happy with the results. The hardest part was getting enough light onto the subject, and holding the camera steady because the DoF was so narrow and I couldn't get close enough with a tripod.

  • Barry

    August 4, 2008 06:34 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    I asked on several sites, including Nikon's, about shooting macro. Everyone said "you have to have a macro lens stupid".
    your answer was the one I needed.

  • Pihe

    August 4, 2008 02:23 am

    Sorry to ask, but why is 1:1 "extreme" macro? 1:1 magnification is THE macro, while ratios smaller than this (1:2, 1:3) are just simple close-ups. Ask a photographer who started back in the film days and he or she will probably agree.

    If you want extreme macro, get a 50mm extension tube, screw a 70-300mm lens @ 300mm and put a 50mm prime front to front. Then you'll get extreme magnification.

  • Marc

    August 3, 2008 11:07 pm

    I would worry about dropping the other lens and getting a scratch. Just having the hand held lens exposed would worry me.

  • Sue

    August 3, 2008 08:33 pm

    Wow! This is really awesome! :D

  • Ernie Hatt

    August 3, 2008 03:20 pm

    First in answer to Paul, not everyone is the fortunate situation to be able to afford these luxuries. This is not a new idea, used to do it way back, but having recently aquired an Olympus E-410, and having some very old Pentax lenses I have been trying it once again, with some excellent results. Thanks Ernie

  • Suzanne

    August 3, 2008 11:07 am

    Here's a tip for those with fixed lens camera. I picked this up from a friend, now deceased, who was taking the most awesome photos of wasps. He held a magnifying glass in front of his lens. I took the following photo 8 years ago, using this method. I took it with my first digital camera, a Polaroid PDC 640, entered it in an online contest, and won.

    http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1169067446011388271SKpblF

  • fourplusadragon

    August 3, 2008 03:23 am

    oh, my gosh! I've never seen nor heard of this.. I am so stinking excited about this posting. I have both lenses needed and LOVE macro. I've wanted to buy a macro lens but this is something i will defiantly try out NOW!

  • Klaidas

    August 3, 2008 03:19 am

    Surely, it's an interesting idea, I've heard of it before, but never tried until today - and the results did surprise me in a pleasant way.

    BUT. The video says you get "close to 1:1 magnification", which is, in my opinion, simple macro, not EXTREME macro. Now 5:1 would be pretty extreme (for example, Canon's MP-E 65mil).

    It's all good, but let's not hype it, mkay? :)

    --Klaidas

  • Paul

    August 3, 2008 01:55 am

    OK fine but why not doing it with a Macro Lens, you want to do nice photography then buy the right equipment...Macro from Canon with flash light for Macro Lenses also from Canon have sticking one lens on top of the other I wonder if you can do it up side down...probably you will not find the screws anymore ahahah

  • Marco Nedermeijer

    August 2, 2008 09:25 pm

    I actually did this a couple of years ago. I have a 70-300mm lens @300mm and front-to-front a 50mm lens.

    These are some pictures i took from ordinairy Salt and Sugar.

    salt: http://www.botter17.nl/fotolist.php?id=2292

    sugar: http://www.botter17.nl/fotolist.php?id=2291

  • Timmermann

    August 2, 2008 08:12 pm

    I've done this a couple of weeks ago - if somebody want a german description (deutsche Anleitung): Extreme Makroaufnahmen mit Kupplungsring

  • Eugene

    August 2, 2008 04:27 pm

    Wow this technique is awesome, i love it! The only problem I have right now is that when my old 50mm lens from my completely manual Canon film SLR (Canon FD 50) is not attached to the camera, the aperture isn't wide open and in the macro photos only a circle in the middle of the picture is visible... anyone know how to open up the aperture when the lens is detached?

  • Neil Creek

    August 2, 2008 02:04 pm

    Another awesome video from ProPhoto Life, thanks for sharing Darren! Reversing a lens is a great technique I have yet to try, but really should!

    I've gone another route with a cheap ($30) set of macro extension tubes. They're still cheap, and have quite a bit more flexibility, as you can change focus and don't have to hold a lens on in front.

  • Rosh

    August 2, 2008 12:05 pm

    I've not seen that before. Very cool. I enjoy macro photography. It's like looking into another world. The geek in me really likes that.

    Rosh
    http://www.newmediaphotographer.com

  • Bob

    August 2, 2008 11:25 am

    Fantastic!! I'm going to have me some fun with this! wow

  • A Cowboy's Wife

    August 2, 2008 11:21 am

    I'll be darned! How cool is that....I'm gonna have to give that a try! Thanks for the tip:)

  • Seim Effects

    August 2, 2008 11:21 am

    Now that's a sweet tips guys. Gonna have to try it myself. Twittering now!

    Gavin
    seimeffects.com

  • Natalie Norton

    August 2, 2008 11:02 am

    wow. WOW.

    The end.

  • Dawn @ My Home Sweet Home

    August 2, 2008 10:52 am

    Oh, my goodness, that is cool! Can't wait to try it - thanks for the tip!

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Sign up to the free DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download
Today’s Deal: Going Pro kit (How to make money from your photography) – $19.99BUY NOW
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER

DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Email:
 
 
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed