Reverse Mounting Your Prime Lenses for Affordable Macro Photography - Digital Photography School
Close
Close

Reverse Mounting Your Prime Lenses for Affordable Macro Photography

Since purchasing my 50mm prime lens a few years back, I’ve felt like a salesman for it ever since–always telling people how sharp, compact and versatile the little bugger is. Well I have one more reason to recommend it. If you mount this lens in reverse on your camera, i.e. flip it around backwards, you get an affordable and fun way to experiment with macro photography. At a little over $9, I found an off-brand 52mm reverse adapter perfect for my 50mm 1.8 and 1.4 lenses. I took it out for a spin at the National Botanical Gardens. Here are my thoughts and experiences with this fun lens accessory.

Right off the bat, let me say that if you want to get serious about macro (close-up) photography this isn’t the best solution. There are good reasons that lenses are engineered specifically with that type of photography in mind. The downside is of coarse, those specialized lenses come with a price. At only $9 I highly recommend this as a starting point or way of experimenting with macro photography. A surprising secondary benefit I didn’t expect when first using this adapter were the insights it gives you into the relationships of depth of field and aperture. So lets begin.

illustration 1.jpg

illustration 2.jpg

Protecting the Lens

If you haven’t used one before, it will seem strange mounting your lens in reverse. Once mounted, you see some of the guts of your lens that are normally not exposed. All of the pins the lens uses to talk with the camera are visible as well as the internal glass element that moves in and out when focusing.

Unfortunately, leaving the lens on in reverse can potentially let dust inside your lens. I highly recommend you use the lens protector cap that comes with your lens to protect it while not shooting. If you plan on using the lens in reverse often, you can buy a bayonet-to-standard filter thread adapter. This lets you screw on a UV type or other filter to keep nature’s elements away from your lens.

You Lose the Camera’s Brain so Use Your Own

If you haven’t already deduced it, seeing that the pins are now facing out, the camera has no way of communicating with the lens electronically. What does this mean to you? You are going to lose all the cozy automatic features of your camera. No auto-focus since there is no talking going back and forth. In fact, with the lens mounted backwards, your primary means of focusing is going to be moving the camera, which will be just inches from your subject, back and forth until the area you want sharp is in focus. No auto aperture either. I’m guessing that many of you have always adjusted the aperture of your lenses electronically. Say good bye to that and say hello to that manual aperture ring you may have never touched before.

Old manual focus lenses work well here regardless of make. Lenses without an aperture ring such as Nikon G-series and Canon EF lenses may not work. Remember that normally the camera keeps the aperture open so you can look through the viewfinder and see what you are taking a picture of. Just before you take a picture, it stops it down to the appropriate size. Now the camera now has no way to open the aperture for your viewfinder viewing pleasure. This leads us to the next point.

Depth and Field and Lighting

I found it amazing to see the depth of field effects in real time and watch them change as you stopped down the aperture. So when using the reverse adapter, as you look through the eye piece and start stopping down the lens, you will see things get really dark really fast. Unless it’s a very sunny day, twist it all the way to f/16 and you’re staring into a black square. (Many digital cameras have a depth-of-field preview button that forces the aperture to the size designated giving you a similar effect.) Set at 1.4, I could look at a flower and see the razor thin focal plan move up and down the flower as I made tiny movements with the camera.

I lugged in my tripod and a few lighting stands but at the last second decided to shoot everything handheld. Shooting this way can be very difficult for a couple of reasons. First, at large apertures with a nice bright image in the viewfinder, you get a very narrow DOF. The smallest shift in your camera position changes what is in focus. It’s extremely difficult to hold the camera steady enough to get consistent shots.

On the flip side of this, some of my favorite images ended up being the more abstract one with things unintentionally out of focus. If you want a sharper image without that aforementioned razor thin focal plane, you can step down the aperture, but again, you’re faced with guessing what is in focus because you can’t see what your shooting in the dark viewfinder. A tripod would be one solution. You could open the aperture, set your focus, then stop it down to take the shot. I did this a few times without the tripod and it worked out fine.

The three pictures below show the dramatic changes that come with changing the aperture on close up images. These are all the same flower, with changes made to the f-stop. On the first image, only the tiny buds are in focus. On the second image, I moved slightly losing the focus of the buds making them essentially disappear. The last image was stopped down to f-16 to get both the buds and the pink pedals in focus.

Reverse-Mount-1a.jpg

Reverse-Mount-1b.jpg

Reverse-Mount-1c.jpg

This image is of an orchid. You can see how shallow the dof is on the first image and how different it looks in the second which was shot around f/16. All small aperture shots required me to use my flash to compensate for the loss in light. I used it in remote mode and held it in my other hand to get different lighting angles. Leaving the flash on the camera is a bad idea as it usually over shoots your tiny subject and you can’t control the light direction.

Reverse-Mount-2a.jpg

Reverse-Mount-2b.jpg

Finally here are a few other images my brother took with this same adapter in his backyard.

Reverse-Mount-3.jpg

Reverse-Mount-4

Reverse-Mount-5

Reverse-Mount-6

If you want to see the entire collection from botanical gardens, they are on blog.chaselliott.com. Like I said, I found myself liking the soft focus abstract ones and plan on mounting a few of them to frames. If you pick up the adapter, let us see some of your own work.

A few side notes

*This setup would work best in a studio environment. You could use multiple flashes and a tripod or even focusing rails to get pinpoint accurate focusing.

*With this reverse mount technique, you are no longer limited to having a single lens on your camera. A technique called “lens stacking” is popular in some circles where a lens like the 50mm is reverse mounted on the end of a zoom lens. Search around for example shots and explanations.

*You aren’t limited to reverse mounting prime lenses. In fact, you can build your own reverse mount extention tube that will work with any lens. Here are some detailed instructions.

*Reverse mounting a lens is not the only way to get cheap magnifications. If you use the Kenko extension tubes and an AF lens you can maintain metering, autofocus (both AF-s and screwdriver AF), and VR (vibration reduction). A three piece extension tube set will give you up to 6 different magnification ratios plus fine tuning with the lens helix. The reversing adapter will give just one magnification ratio.

*If you already own a nice zoom lens, look into close-up diopter lenses that screw onto the filter threads. The best ones are dual-element made by a few different manufacturers, and cost around $80 each. Some zoom lenses will even work well reversed if you reverse-mount them with the close-up lens attached. In this case, zooming simply changes magnification which is very handy for trimming the composition.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Chas Elliott is a freelance photographer in the Northern Virginia and DC area. See more of his work at www.chaselliott.com.

  • bobson

    @cenoura — I’m looking for the same thing. I found one for the Nikon lens, but no such luck for Canon. Anyone know where to find the Canon equivalent?

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/37172-REG/Nikon_2629_BR_3_Mount_Adapter_Ring.html

  • cenoura

    @bobson – I couldn’t find any of thoses for Canon =\ although I’ve search only on eBay… I’ll try to search some more… if you find something for Canon, post here please

  • Mark

    cool 50mm!

  • Sergiu

    excelent.i found everything but the lens cap that goes on the lens when it s reverse mounted…i need help please.i m buying it for my canon …. thank you chris..and please reply if you do on my email . sergiusal@yahoo.com

  • tai fu

    Has anyone thought of using old manual focus FD lens for this reverse mounting technique (or even for use with pringle extension tube)? They should have an aperture ring, and they’re cheap so if it turns out to be a bust it’s not a big loss…

  • http://www.flickr.com/joaocenoura Cenoura

    Yeah, I’ve bought and old Canon FD 28mm just for macro shoots (costed something like ~25€) and yes, you can set the aperture manually. Also I have a Macro Bellows (they work like extension tubes) to achieve even greater magnification. I’ve noticed that with my 28mm, I can get more magnification than my other 50mm… don’t know why but it seems that the shorter the focal length, the closer you can get to the subject. You can check out my

  • http://www.flickr.com/joaocenoura Cenoura

    seems like the link didn’t work… I was saying that you can check ou my macro set at http://www.flickr.com/joaocenoura

  • Cmoney Atrain

    A BR3 alternative for Canon, (purpose to protect the exposed rear of a reverse mounted lens) is to buy one of the cheap (Chinese) extender rings on eBay. The metal ones go for $6-$8 with shipping. Toss the middle tubes (in your camera bag, or buy an additional tube and create one “super” tube). The mounts fit together. They thread with a unusual 60mm thread. I filed down the 3 aluminum ridges from the (tube’s) mount that attaches to the camera body (not completely). A 52mm (UV) filter can be pushed into place over that area and be almost locked into place. Now you have a metal cover, that looks somewhat professional. (confirmed) If you can find a step up 58mm to 60mm ring on eBay you may not have to file anything. (have not confirmed this). I’ll try to take pictures, just made it last night. Total cost was $11- $7 for tube, $4 for filter (eBay)

  • felix

    I got one from adorama for my 50mm f/1.8 prime lens but when I put it on my lens and put the lens on my camera, it is very dark and blured. I dont know how this things work. and it says on the top lcd the F stop display like this f – -. can you please figure this out for me, I’m stuck I don’t know what to do next. Thanks much appreciated.

  • http://www.flickr.com/joaocenoura Cenoura

    about the “f – -” it is normal, since then lens aren’t electrically connected to the body and so, your camera doesn’t recognize any lens attached. this means you won’t be able to set an aperture thru the camera. Which camera and lens brand do you have?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/itsthebone Matt

    Chas,

    Great article! I recently have converted my 50mm f1.8 into a macro and am having a great time with it! I have a good solution for Protecting Your Lens for about $30 (with reverse lens mount.)

    I bought a rear lens cap and a 37mm UV filter, cut a hole out and screwed the UV filter in:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/itsthebone/4686617893/in/set-72157624242430004/

    There is a photo in there of the work in progress as well.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/itsthebone/ Matt

    @Felix,
    You need to set your camera to manual. Also set your auto-focus to manual. This will solve the “f–” issue.
    Next on the lens if you have an aperture ring it may have a lock. Unlock it and rotate it to 1.4 or 1.8. You will notice a significant change in the light coming thru the viewfinder.

  • Prabho

    Hi
    This reverse adapter sounds great, but I’ve searched the web for one adapter to mount on my alpha Sony alpha a 330 and came across one of 55mm. But somewhat puzzled regarding the size as the opening of the body seems to be less than the filter size

    So grateful if you could advise which reverse adapter will be ideal for my Sony alpha 330.

    Thanks and regards

  • danskids

    i’ve just ordered a reversing adapter and can’t wait to try it out! thanks for the info

  • http://blog.thomasmichaelcorcoran.com/ Mike C

    Thanks for posting this! good information!!

  • http://www.pefab.eu petr

    i have a macro lens for up to 1:1 photography, but i found out my 14-42mm lens can reach about 3:1, which is amazing.. and yet unreachable by any other lens.
    nice article

  • Renato

    Will the reverse ring work with a 18-55mm len on a nikonD5000 ? Thanks

  • http://creativedamage.wordpress.com lahari

    Hi,
    I recently purchased the reverse macro ring. I use a Sony a230. When I installed the reverse macro adapter(Fotodix 55mm macro ring adapter), the main body keeps on poping a message that the lens is not attached and the shutter is locked! What could be the reason for this?

  • Gareth

    Don’t suppose anyone has had any luck finding a “bayonet-to-standard filter thread adapter” suitable for a canon ef lens yet? I’ve searched high and low with no luck yet.

  • http://isoterica.com/ ISOterica

    Looking for one of those too Gareth. :s If anyone answered you please let me know!

  • http://reviews.davidleetong.com Dave Tong

    Here’s another tutorial related to the subject. You can also combine reverse mount and extension tubes as well.

    http://reviews.davidleetong.com/tutorials/macro/affordable-macro-extension-tubes-and-reverse-mounting-2/

  • Edge

    Great article, thank you! I have been playing around with this setup with the following equipment:
    Nikon D7000
    Nikon 50mm f/1.4 D
    $11.99 reversing ring (from BHPhoto- did I overpay? :) )
    $20 tabletop stable tripod (*very* useful to get exceptional focus)
    SB-900 flash used off-camera with Commander mode

    Everything works perfectly, and I love the shots. So what is the down side? Most macro photography is done manual focus/tripod anyway, so no difference there. I adjust the camera position at f/1.4, then quickly dial to f/16, and take a nice, crisp picture, with reasonable depth of field.

    The only downsides I see is:
    - Bokeh is strange – you see a clear 7-sided bokeh, not the nice round circles we all like
    - “real” macro lenses go to much smaller f/ stops (f/40 on some). So, I assume my depth of field would be better?

    Anything else?

  • Hari

    Still nobody found a bayonet-to-standard adapter? Woudl anything from this page work? http://www.camerafilters.com/pages/conversion.aspx

  • http://opticmemory.ca wil

    Great article..Thanks for the post.. I will try this trick now that spring is here :)

  • Milan

    Hi, fanrastic article, am useing Nikon D90+Nikon 50mm 1.8D reverse mounted using the reverse mount ring, am unable to fire the SB-600flash off camera, could anyone please guide me with the settings.

  • Prateek Choraria

    Hello, I? am using Canon 550D with 18-55mm Lens for Reverse Macro Photos…
    I hv a doubt about lense performance….
    If I’m using lens like this, and I am taking out my lens to reverse it while camera is on, Isn’t it harmful for ma camera nd lens as well?
    Nd plz let me knw the important settings for this.

    plz reply

  • Ken

    Thanks for the great article! Can’t wait to try out your suggestions !

  • Ingrid Owens

    Fun! Tried it out with great success!

  • Angellis Jose

    already tried it, was hard focusing since I was not using a tripod and was kneeling down, I don’t have a prime lens and I my reverse ring on a 28-80 lens, I noticed that the picture has a single focus point and blurry around as in the attached pict, is it because I was not using a prime lens? thanks a lot

  • Guest

    here is the picture

  • northlander30

    Depending on what camera you are using, you can manually set your depth of field before reversing the lens. On Canon’s T2i and up (I have a T3i) there is a DOF button on the front of the camera you set your aperture to the desired number then press and hold the DOF button, while doing this you remove the lens and that automatically keeps the lens at the aperture you selected. You can play around with the DOF and aperture settings until you get your entire subject in focus. I takes a little practice but it is fun.

  • Prathap Gangireddy

    Few pics with reverse mounting

  • Mike S.

    Had to use a tripod for this shot.

  • Mike S.

    Very hard to do handheld.

  • Angellis Jose

    thanks, I’m using a 600D, honestly, I enjoyed it, also like it when the focus was on the head, the earlier picts was focused elsewhere, just a hobbyist, and I love taking pictures of insects, again thanks

  • Angellis Jose

    also I’m using an old EF lens that has no aperture ring, and what does F00 means? am just beginner in using a dslr,

  • Angelia

    F00 means that the camera does not recognize that there’s a lens attached.

  • Jason

    Tried this many times and have since been addicted to shooting macros whenever I can. Perhaps you can also add in the info where shorter focal lengths give higher magnification. Just my two cents :)

    Great tutorial though!

  • Angellis Jose

    thank you very much guys, till next time, God bless to all.

Some older comments

  • Prateek Choraria

    October 20, 2012 02:17 am

    Hello, I? am using Canon 550D with 18-55mm Lens for Reverse Macro Photos...
    I hv a doubt about lense performance....
    If I'm using lens like this, and I am taking out my lens to reverse it while camera is on, Isn't it harmful for ma camera nd lens as well?
    Nd plz let me knw the important settings for this.

    plz reply

  • Milan

    August 20, 2012 03:06 pm

    Hi, fanrastic article, am useing Nikon D90+Nikon 50mm 1.8D reverse mounted using the reverse mount ring, am unable to fire the SB-600flash off camera, could anyone please guide me with the settings.

  • wil

    April 4, 2012 08:19 am

    Great article..Thanks for the post.. I will try this trick now that spring is here :)

  • Hari

    January 25, 2012 01:41 pm

    Still nobody found a bayonet-to-standard adapter? Woudl anything from this page work? http://www.camerafilters.com/pages/conversion.aspx

  • Edge

    January 24, 2012 04:08 am

    Great article, thank you! I have been playing around with this setup with the following equipment:
    Nikon D7000
    Nikon 50mm f/1.4 D
    $11.99 reversing ring (from BHPhoto- did I overpay? :) )
    $20 tabletop stable tripod (*very* useful to get exceptional focus)
    SB-900 flash used off-camera with Commander mode

    Everything works perfectly, and I love the shots. So what is the down side? Most macro photography is done manual focus/tripod anyway, so no difference there. I adjust the camera position at f/1.4, then quickly dial to f/16, and take a nice, crisp picture, with reasonable depth of field.

    The only downsides I see is:
    - Bokeh is strange - you see a clear 7-sided bokeh, not the nice round circles we all like
    - "real" macro lenses go to much smaller f/ stops (f/40 on some). So, I assume my depth of field would be better?

    Anything else?

  • Dave Tong

    October 13, 2011 02:13 am

    Here's another tutorial related to the subject. You can also combine reverse mount and extension tubes as well.

    http://reviews.davidleetong.com/tutorials/macro/affordable-macro-extension-tubes-and-reverse-mounting-2/

  • ISOterica

    September 9, 2011 02:45 am

    Looking for one of those too Gareth. :s If anyone answered you please let me know!

  • Gareth

    July 28, 2011 08:22 am

    Don't suppose anyone has had any luck finding a "bayonet-to-standard filter thread adapter" suitable for a canon ef lens yet? I've searched high and low with no luck yet.

  • lahari

    April 17, 2011 07:21 am

    Hi,
    I recently purchased the reverse macro ring. I use a Sony a230. When I installed the reverse macro adapter(Fotodix 55mm macro ring adapter), the main body keeps on poping a message that the lens is not attached and the shutter is locked! What could be the reason for this?

  • Renato

    February 8, 2011 09:58 pm

    Will the reverse ring work with a 18-55mm len on a nikonD5000 ? Thanks

  • petr

    October 26, 2010 04:11 pm

    i have a macro lens for up to 1:1 photography, but i found out my 14-42mm lens can reach about 3:1, which is amazing.. and yet unreachable by any other lens.
    nice article

  • Mike C

    September 9, 2010 02:14 pm

    Thanks for posting this! good information!!

  • danskids

    August 16, 2010 08:59 am

    i've just ordered a reversing adapter and can't wait to try it out! thanks for the info

  • Prabho

    July 20, 2010 06:58 pm

    Hi
    This reverse adapter sounds great, but I've searched the web for one adapter to mount on my alpha Sony alpha a 330 and came across one of 55mm. But somewhat puzzled regarding the size as the opening of the body seems to be less than the filter size

    So grateful if you could advise which reverse adapter will be ideal for my Sony alpha 330.

    Thanks and regards

  • Matt

    June 15, 2010 06:43 am

    @Felix,
    You need to set your camera to manual. Also set your auto-focus to manual. This will solve the "f--" issue.
    Next on the lens if you have an aperture ring it may have a lock. Unlock it and rotate it to 1.4 or 1.8. You will notice a significant change in the light coming thru the viewfinder.

  • Matt

    June 14, 2010 04:13 am

    Chas,

    Great article! I recently have converted my 50mm f1.8 into a macro and am having a great time with it! I have a good solution for Protecting Your Lens for about $30 (with reverse lens mount.)

    I bought a rear lens cap and a 37mm UV filter, cut a hole out and screwed the UV filter in:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/itsthebone/4686617893/in/set-72157624242430004/

    There is a photo in there of the work in progress as well.

  • Cenoura

    June 11, 2010 04:57 am

    about the "f - -" it is normal, since then lens aren't electrically connected to the body and so, your camera doesn't recognize any lens attached. this means you won't be able to set an aperture thru the camera. Which camera and lens brand do you have?

  • felix

    June 10, 2010 01:33 am

    I got one from adorama for my 50mm f/1.8 prime lens but when I put it on my lens and put the lens on my camera, it is very dark and blured. I dont know how this things work. and it says on the top lcd the F stop display like this f - -. can you please figure this out for me, I'm stuck I don't know what to do next. Thanks much appreciated.

  • Cmoney Atrain

    March 18, 2010 04:30 am

    A BR3 alternative for Canon, (purpose to protect the exposed rear of a reverse mounted lens) is to buy one of the cheap (Chinese) extender rings on eBay. The metal ones go for $6-$8 with shipping. Toss the middle tubes (in your camera bag, or buy an additional tube and create one "super" tube). The mounts fit together. They thread with a unusual 60mm thread. I filed down the 3 aluminum ridges from the (tube's) mount that attaches to the camera body (not completely). A 52mm (UV) filter can be pushed into place over that area and be almost locked into place. Now you have a metal cover, that looks somewhat professional. (confirmed) If you can find a step up 58mm to 60mm ring on eBay you may not have to file anything. (have not confirmed this). I'll try to take pictures, just made it last night. Total cost was $11- $7 for tube, $4 for filter (eBay)

  • Cenoura

    March 7, 2010 11:01 pm

    seems like the link didn't work... I was saying that you can check ou my macro set at www.flickr.com/joaocenoura

  • Cenoura

    March 7, 2010 10:58 pm

    Yeah, I've bought and old Canon FD 28mm just for macro shoots (costed something like ~25€) and yes, you can set the aperture manually. Also I have a Macro Bellows (they work like extension tubes) to achieve even greater magnification. I've noticed that with my 28mm, I can get more magnification than my other 50mm... don't know why but it seems that the shorter the focal length, the closer you can get to the subject. You can check out my

  • tai fu

    March 7, 2010 06:05 pm

    Has anyone thought of using old manual focus FD lens for this reverse mounting technique (or even for use with pringle extension tube)? They should have an aperture ring, and they're cheap so if it turns out to be a bust it's not a big loss...

  • Sergiu

    November 10, 2009 12:49 am

    excelent.i found everything but the lens cap that goes on the lens when it s reverse mounted...i need help please.i m buying it for my canon .... thank you chris..and please reply if you do on my email . sergiusal@yahoo.com

  • Mark

    July 24, 2009 01:04 pm

    cool 50mm!

  • cenoura

    July 18, 2009 02:24 am

    @bobson - I couldn't find any of thoses for Canon =\ although I've search only on eBay... I'll try to search some more... if you find something for Canon, post here please

  • bobson

    July 15, 2009 12:53 pm

    @cenoura -- I'm looking for the same thing. I found one for the Nikon lens, but no such luck for Canon. Anyone know where to find the Canon equivalent?

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/37172-REG/Nikon_2629_BR_3_Mount_Adapter_Ring.html

  • acs1886

    July 10, 2009 02:03 pm

    Hi, liked your article. I'm using a canon 40d. does anyone know of any link that guides you step by step to do it on the canon body?

  • Jody0323

    July 10, 2009 08:17 am

    I am also seeking info for protecting the now uncovered "bottom end" of the lens. I was thinking of pruchasing the 100mm macro (canon) but now think I may play with reversing my lens first. I am unsure about exposing it to the elements..Any advice is appreciated

  • Cenoura

    July 8, 2009 05:45 pm

    Sorry Chris, I've got confused with the description... I'm looking for, as you've said, "an adapter to attach to the now-exposed “bottom end” of the lens to which you can attach a filter for protection"
    Any hint?

  • Chris

    July 8, 2009 11:08 am

    @cenoura: what you found is identical to what I found for you -- an adapter that allows you to reverse-mount your lens. Also, you need to make sure you have the right filter size; look at your lens and find out what the thread size i.e. diameter is.

    I'm confused: are you looking for a reversing ring to reverse-mount your lens to your camera, or are you looking for an adapter to attach to the now-exposed "bottom end" of the lens to which you can attach a filter for protection (as mentioned in the article)?

    Chris

  • Cenoura

    July 8, 2009 10:24 am

    Ok, after search more and more I've found this:
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/47mm-Lens-Reversal-Filter-Ring-Adapter-for-Canon-EOS_W0QQitemZ310150916963QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_Photography_CameraLenses_Lens_caps_hoods_adaptors_ET?hash=item48366f6b63&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=65%3A12|66%3A2|39%3A1|72%3A1690|240%3A1318|301%3A1|293%3A1|294%3A50

    But I didn't get the description very well... do you think it does the trick?

  • Chris

    July 8, 2009 09:47 am

    @cenoura: oops, my bad. I just re-read that section of the article and see what you're referring to.

    Chris

  • Chris

    July 8, 2009 09:41 am

    That's exactly what I found for you: a bayonet-to-standard filter thread adapter, just like the article specified (although it's not usually referred to as such). The standard filter thread screws on to the end of the lens just like a regular filter would; the bayonet part attaches to the camera the way you would attach a lens.

    Chris

  • Cenoura

    July 8, 2009 08:32 am

    @Chris: erm... I think thats not what I'm looking for... As the article states "If you plan on using the lens in reverse often, you can buy a bayonet-to-standard filter thread adapter". I was referring to an adapter to the back of the lens to screw a UV filter.
    Thanks for the reply

  • Chris

    July 8, 2009 08:00 am

    @cenoura: here are four rings on eBay: http://photography.shop.ebay.com/items/?_nkw=reverse+canon+50mm&_sacat=625&_trksid=m270&_odkw=reversing+canon+50mm&_osacat=625

    Chris

  • Cenoura

    July 7, 2009 11:40 pm

    Hy,
    I can't find any "bayonet-to-standard filter thread adapter" on ebay or amazon... any hint to find one that fits on Canon EF 50mm?

    Thanks

  • Chris

    July 7, 2009 05:09 am

    Have you tried setting your camera to Manual Mode?

  • Katie

    July 7, 2009 02:25 am

    Help! I ordered the adapter recommended on Amazon, for use with my Nikon D80 and 50mm f/1.8 lens, but when I try to use it, I'm not able to release the shutter. I think that I must not be doing something very basic -- just don't know what that is! Thanks for any help offered.

  • Sugata Banerji

    June 19, 2009 02:25 am

    Great article! I have a Pentax MX 35mm SLR and I use its Pentax 50mm f/1.4 prime lens and sometimes my Pentax 40-80mm f/2.8 zoom lens to shoot macros by this technique. However, I don't have a reverse ring, and experimenting on film is too costly anyway, so I hold the reversed lens in front of my Sony CyberShot DSC W5 in macro mode with a little zoom and shoot. Both the lenses are fully manual and they have aperture rings. The results are really good... except for a little vignetting at the corners. Here are a few results:
    My Dandelion shot. Actually there are more shots in this series but I am linking to only this one.
    Maple leaf. I placed this on a window pane with sunlight streaming through.
    Icicle. Shooting this was an added challenge due to the cold outsite!
    Damselfly. I shot this using the 40-80mm zoom lens. The creature was very patient with me.

  • Franzi

    June 14, 2009 03:11 am

    forgot the links ;)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kill-for-creativity/2451246269/in/set-72157604427326692/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kill-for-creativity/2420486893/in/set-72157604427326692/

  • Franzi

    June 14, 2009 03:09 am

    I love this method...I can't afford buying a macro lens and this is also a good way to take nice pictures.

    Two examples for the reverse mounted 18-55mm kit lens

  • Pancho

    June 12, 2009 06:03 am

    Chris: The Fotodiox 52mm Reverse Mount Adapter has shipping restrictions. In Amazon, at least. In other sites the cost is near $40.
    Never mind.

  • Ariston Collander Photography

    June 11, 2009 06:05 am

    Mine just arrived today from Amazon and I must say this freakin rocks. Here is the first result. Nikon D300 with reverse mounted 50mm f/1.8 lens. I am definitely looking forward to using this a lot more.

    Photo Informatica - Reverse Macro

  • Chris

    June 6, 2009 04:49 pm

    If you feel comfortable ordering from eBay, you can find one for even less than $9 -- I bought mine for less than $5!

  • Chas

    June 6, 2009 10:18 am

    Here it is on Amazon for $12: http://www.amazon.com/Fotodiox-Reverse-Mount-Adapter-Nikon/dp/B001G4NBSC/ref=pd_cp_p_1

  • Maria

    June 6, 2009 05:59 am

    So everywhere I've looked the Reverse Ring seems to be about $40. Am I searching incorrectly? I have a D80 and I do have the 50mm 1.4 lens. So I'd like to know what I need to search for to get it for about $9.00.

    Thanks!

  • HB

    June 6, 2009 12:26 am

    Nice article! There's actually a name for this - Reverse Lens Macro. I've made an adapter one for my Canon DSLR; used a body cap with a hole drilled into it (as in the DIY link in this article), glued a UV filter to it (no extension tubes) and....voila! I use it with both my kit lens and a zoom.

    You're spot on about that depth of field....shows you how unsteady your hands really are!! :-)

  • Walther

    June 5, 2009 08:42 am

    Great post! And great pictures too!
    I've been using this for years and it's great! I love macros. But this can also work with point-and-shoot cameras. One of my 50mm lenses doesn't work anymore and I just put it in front of my small digital camera, set the zoom to maximum and that's it. In my case the lens got stuck on f/1.4 so plenty of light comes through, but I still have to use the flash. To direct the flash light to the right point I use a transparent plastic that was inside a broken printer and was used to guide the light of a LED to the panel. It even have a small mirror that reflects the light exactly where I need.
    I have taken tons of pictures with this "frankenstein optics" and it is a real pleasure to go in the backyard and discover a new universum to capture. It takes a while to get used with the assembly, but it works great.
    If I reverse the lens, it will double the magnification, but that's already too much.
    If I need a little more distance to the subject, like insects or so, I use a tele-converter and can take great macros from about 30cm.
    Also using a binocular works when you use it the same way, this is my "frankenstein tele". ;)

  • Chris

    June 5, 2009 06:48 am

    It's a pity only who makes shipments of what within the USA? What country would you like whatever shipped to?

  • Pancho

    June 5, 2009 06:04 am

    Nice post! Beautiful pictures! And a great toy :) It's a pity they only make shipments within the U.S.A. :(

  • Mary Ann Mattox

    June 5, 2009 03:06 am

    Tom Gill, I ALSO have a 50mm prime, and the 18-55 kit lens. Which of these options makes for the best macro? Reverse-mounted 18-55mm, reverse mounted 50mm, OR 18-55mm mounted on camera normally and then the 50mm mounted in reverse onto the 18-55mm [I've found adaptors to do ALL of these 3 options on the net, fyi - Ebay has best selection].

    I've read on the net about all 3 of these options, but have yet to find an article showing the differences between them [and then pics of same object using each method].

  • Tom Gill

    June 5, 2009 02:25 am

    I've used a reverse ring on my 50mm prime lens, but have also used it on my 18 to 55 kit lens. Add a couple of close up filters to the lens before mounting it to the camera and you can get some great close ups!

    dandelion
    dandelion seeds

    Great tips and side notes!

  • Walt H

    June 4, 2009 02:30 pm

    @Chris, cool article. It's common knowledge in some circles, but since there is generally a finite amount of current knowledge regarding photography people are bound to bring up the same stuff across the net.

    @Pappy, I disagree with your statement as well. Improvisation is the mother of invention and the father of ingenuity. If one of your foci is Macro photography then by all means buy the equipment to get it done with the utmost speed and quality. Otherwise, this article's details work in a pinch and should not be dismissed simply because they do not explain the inordinately difficult skill of using your charge card to achieve a shot.

    @Aaron, I'm a stickler for grammar and spelling as well. I do make mistakes, hell, there is probably one in this post. But, for future reference, the correct statement is "For F**k's Sake" not "For f**k sakes." I'm not entirely sure how a f**k could have more than one sake, as you stated. However, I am quite sure that a f**k can possess a single sake. Secondly, while the term "write English" is grammatically correct, it is horrible sentence structure because it breaks up the "flow" when reading it. The more appropriate alternative would be the all encompassing "use English," This alternative allows the sentence to flow better, as well as removes the connotation that speaking English poorly isn't as bad as writing it poorly. Trust me on this one! Being from the South I am consistently inundated with people who have no issues correctly spelling "wash," yet somehow always seems to pronounce it "warsh" when speaking.

  • Becky

    June 4, 2009 04:23 am

    Thank you, Chas, for the great article. I think it's fantastic that this article presents a range of options, for a range of budgets. I like that the article presents the pros and cons of reverse mounting the 500mm lens- letting the reader decide what option they'd like to pursue. It seems to me that part of the beauty of this forum is that is has info for individuals with a range of experience and budgets. No one is forced to click on any given link, hence I object to vash's comment that it's "a bit common knowledge...for thos in the dps forums"-it's there for those who need the information.
    Cheers to DPS for all the great work!

  • Valerie

    June 4, 2009 04:11 am

    Thanks Chris!

  • Chris

    June 4, 2009 01:53 am

    @valerie: yes, there are. Do a Google search; you're bound to find quite a few. Also, check eBay.

  • Vash

    June 4, 2009 12:23 am

    @pappy
    so according to you, if I ever want to experiment with macro photography I have to buy a at least ~500 euro lens (plus the proper 400-500 euro ring flash, since if you are going to do it at least do it right). And what happens if I decide I don't like macro photography all that much?

    Nice article albeit a bit common knowledge, at least for those in the dps forums.

  • Valerie

    June 4, 2009 12:08 am

    Hi, this sounds like a good idea, but are there any adapter rings available for a canon dslr?

  • A.M. Wahl

    June 3, 2009 12:15 pm

    Thank you Mr Elliot for your article. Very informative and your pictures were great. Nice examples of the quality of work produced using this techniques. I've attempted hand-held shots a few times but have not invested in a reverse mount. Can't wait to see what images I can produce using this technique.

    @Aaron - "Oh, and by the way…interesting article! ;-)" The point others are trying to make is that you took the time to comment on spelling but not the content of the article itself. Your nod to the article itself was half-hearted at best. You must not visit this sight often or read all the articles or you'd know that a majority of things posted here have spelling and grammar errors. It's the content people are interested in. However, you are right. It is an interesting article.

  • Aaron Hokanson

    June 3, 2009 09:02 am

    FFS = "For F_ck Sakes"

    @thank you: It doesn't matter if I have posted anything. It's a serious issue when someone doesn't know how to spell. They look uneducated to other readers (and have less credibility). If we, as a society, lose (there it is again) our ability to properly write English we will have become illiterate. The author has corrected his article. I did him a favour.

    Do you want to be illiterate? I see you don't want anyone to know who you are. I have no problem going down in history as a spelling Nazi.

    I make mistakes, too, and take my lumps when I am scolded as a result!

    So instead of complaining, learn.

    Oh, and by the way...interesting article! ;-)

  • Ryan

    June 3, 2009 08:47 am

    Pappy's right. We shouldn't try new things. Please throw away your D300 and start making Deguerrotypes.

  • Pappy

    June 3, 2009 05:15 am

    Sorry to be the wet blanket in the string of congratulations, but the article elicits two criticisms in my mind:

    1) The number of grammar mistakes damages the writer's credibility.
    2) I don't mind saving a few bucks, which is why I built my own light box based on a DPS article, but this reverse-lens gimmick sounds desperate. Sure, photography is an expensive hobby, and saving money is always nice, but what's next? "How Fireworks Can Save You From Buying a Flash Unit." According to author Howdy Doody, "The timing is tough, and I've lost a couple of fingers, but you get a nice warm light!"

    Pappy

  • Thank You

    June 3, 2009 02:17 am

    Thanks for writing this article. It was well written. As for Aaron Hokanson comments, I hope you continue to share your knowledge in spite of people like Aaron.

    Aaron, where are your articles on the web? Have you bothered to share any knowledge with anyone except for your grammar lessons?

    I would love to critique them. ?

  • Jessica Robinson

    June 3, 2009 12:26 am

    Hi! Fantastic post :) I have been doing this for a while and I think it's a great inexpensive way to get a different perspective. Here are some of my shots: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jessicarobinson/sets/72157605244557459/

    Looking forward to seeing more of this great stuff!

  • jouni helminen

    June 2, 2009 07:34 pm

    the added benefit of using extension tubes/bellows instead of reverse mount is that you can adjust the magnification level instead of it being fixed

  • Lachlan

    June 2, 2009 05:05 pm

    @chris: FFS is short for 'For F..k's Sake'!

    this was a great article, great tips and great photos... well done DPS

  • ravi

    June 2, 2009 04:33 pm

    great article for getting into macro on a budget, personally i bought a couple of extension tubes from ebay for a similar price as i didnt want the rear of my lens poking around so close to things.

    I use the canon EF f1.8 50mm and hence no aperture ring, at 1.8 the DoF is razor thin, so a trick i found is by normally attaching the 50mm lens, stopping down to a more usuable aperture (f8+) and then WHILE pressing the DOF preview button (which closes the lens down to the right f#) i press the lens release button and unscrew the lens, that leaves the aperture set at what you want!

    a nice way to get around a aperture ring-less lens imo

  • moe

    June 2, 2009 02:45 pm

    Well even though Canon does not have a aperture ring, you can unmount the lens while holding the DOF preview button. This way you can still set your Aperture. Remember, use your own brain!

  • Chris

    June 2, 2009 01:38 pm

    LOLing @ Aaron! Sorry, Aaron, but you just gave me an ASNaR (Acute Spontaneous Nasal Reflux) i.e. you made me shoot Pepsi out of my nose! Your post cracked me up! What's "FFS"?

    Chris

  • Aaron Hokanson

    June 2, 2009 12:47 pm

    "You Loose the Camera’s Brain so Use Your Own"

    FFS!!!! It's "lose" not "loose."

    "Loose" is an antonym of tight.

    "Lose" means to no longer be in possession of.

    Agh!

  • Chas

    June 2, 2009 12:23 pm

    @Chris: Great picture of the bee. Love it.
    @Niels: Nice article! I forgot to mention using the timer.

    Chas

  • Sleestak

    June 2, 2009 11:03 am

    Loose the camera's brain?

  • My Camera World

    June 2, 2009 09:41 am

    Using a reverse 50mm lens is a very affordable solution to some great macro shots.

    Because of the tight DOF having precession movement is almost critical. Don't forget you can also move the object if this gives you easer adjustments as getting in close with a tripod is a bit trickly.

    See ‘Reversing a 50mm lens for Macro work' article for some sample images.

    http://niels-henriksen.blogspot.com/2007/09/reversing-50mm-lens-for-macro-work.html

    Niels

  • Chris

    June 2, 2009 09:39 am

    Excellent piece, Chas! And beautiful pictures as well! I've been implementing this technique for quite some time now but usually just hand-hold the lens up to the camera. Sure, I've got a reversing ring that I bought a while back, but I personally find it too cumbersome and time-consuming to remove the lens, screw on the ring, and reattach the lens. I know, I'm lazy. Here is one of my first pictures that I ever took with a flipped 60 -- it's also on of my favorites: http://www.runfola-photography.com/gallery/5901652_JnLDD#384917940_LTEDE-L-LB. The picture that the link points to is soft as well, and I actually prefer it over the sharp one.

    Chris

  • Hans

    June 2, 2009 07:47 am

    Too bad my canon 50mm doesn't come with an aperture ring, otherwise it would've been a fun gadget.
    I've been thinking of reverse stacking for some time now, but never got around to doing it.

  • Shayne

    June 2, 2009 07:38 am

    Simply...Awesome. I've wanted to get more use of out my 50mm for some time and this seems like a good (and cheap) way to have a little fun. Thanks for the tip *bookmarked for reference* =

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
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