Macro Photography Without the Macro Lens

October 6, 2010 · 36 comments

in Tips & Tricks

You don’t need a special macro lens to do macro photography with your SLR. Yes, you’ve read that right. You can actually shoot some pretty interesting close-up photos with the lens you have. When I first saw this trick via Photojojo, I was skeptical as it was so easy and simple. But after giving it a go myself, I was hooked! It involves no additional equipment or money and results will leave you grinning.

1.) Pick a lens, any lens

Ok, maybe not any lens, but have a look through the lenses you have and choose the one with the widest angle. Don’t go for super zoom lenses, it’s not going to work as well. If you can, pick a prime lens. A 50mm will work just fine.

2.) Unmount your lens

Now, before you do this, it’s preferable that you do this at home in a dust-free environment. As this trick involves you to unmount your lens for a long period of time, dust can easily get into your sensor. You might like to a blower on hand too, just in case!

3.) Flip the lens

Yup, that’s right. Simply flip the lens the other way. Because you can’t mount a reversed lens, you’d simply have to hold it tightly but gently against the camera with one hand. You should have a lens filter on already. If not, this is the time to put it on as you don’t want to scratch the front of your lens.

4.) Manual focus

Because you can’t auto-focus with the camera, you’d have to manually do it. Simply edge closer or move slowly away from the object with your camera.

A tripod helps to ease the blur, but a steady hand and fast shutter speed are equally as good. Make sure there’s plenty of lighting and have your camera mode set to shutter speed priority or automatic. I find a shutter speed faster than 1/200 of a second works well. If your photos are still coming out too dark, you might need to increase the ISO.

5.) Shoot!

Once you like what you see, shoot it! You’d be quite surprised at how close you can get! Here’s a normal shot I took with a 50mm lens:

And here’s what I came up with when I flipped the same lens around:

If you wanted to get even closer to the object, choose a wider lens. Here’s what I achieved with a 28mm:

And check out what a 20mm can produce:

Try it and I hope you’d be surprised by this simple trick as I was. I’m keen to see how this worked out for you!

Article by

1 part ad agency. 2 parts freelancer. An avid urban photographer, traveler, and streetwear lover. Geeky curator of all things awesome. Sustains on Vegemite, meat pies and lamingtons. Follow me on Twitter or Flickr.

Yi has written 69 awesome articles for us at Photoble

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