I want to take macro shots, but can’t afford a macro lens!

So you want to take macro shots? Like those you see in the magazines? With the eyes of a spider staring at you, or the quiet, fairy-like world inside a flower from your garden?

Macro shot with reversing ring

You want to do all tis, for which you need a macro lens costing $$$, which you haven’t got? Never fear.

You can do all of the above!

This is another of those questions I get asked zillions of times. Yes, taking shots like those mentioned does need you to invest in a macro lens, but as we all know, those lenses can cost almost as much as the camera itself.

Normal lenses supplied with the camera are usually able to give you a magnification ratio of 1:10, but for decent macro shots, you need a ratio of 1:1 ideally.

Cash in these cash-strapped days is in short supply, so I am going to tell you about several ways in which you can shoot your macro shots with your standard lens.

The first method is to use Close up lenses. These things attach to the front of your normal lens in place of the filter, or slide into an attachment that you screw into that same filter thread on your lens. You can use just one or a combination of them to give you the desired magnification.Close up lenses work best with standard long lens (ie one with a focal length around 100mm or more). Cost is around $20 to over $250 depending upon the size, type of filter thread and obviously make. The most common maker of these lenses is Kood.

Camera with close up lens attached to standard lens

The second method is to use Extension tubes. These are tubes which fit between your standard lens and camera body, and serve to move your existing focal length away from infinity…that gives you much closer focussing ability. Bear in mind that because these fit between your existing lens and body, whatever electronic system there was between your camera and lens to allow for auto-focus, auto-metering etc will not work, as the tubes effectively break up the connection between your lens and camera, so you have to focus and set your camera manually…no big deal. However, you can buy some extension tubs that allow camera-lens communication, but they will set you back a lot of money, around $180 or more.

Camera with 3 extension tubes between lens

Another third method is to use Reversing rings. As the name suggests, these allow you to again use your existing lens, but in a reversed position. These again fit between your lens and camera body. You remove the lens from the camera body, fit the reversing ring to the body and then refit the lens facing backwards, onto the reversing ring. It will make your camera look rather odd, with the electrical contacts and locking pins showing up at the front, but it will let you shoot macros to your heart’s content. It’s worth pointing out that with reversing rings in place, and because the lens is now reversed, focussing may not be possible, so the only option you have left is to move the camera itself closer or farther from your subject to get it in focus.

Camera with reversing ring in place, lens mounted reversed


Also worth noting is that even with reversing rings in place, you can increase magnification even further by adding extension tubes between the reversing ring and reversed lens……hope you got that! Cost of reversing rings is the cheapest option…look at spending around $15 for a single ring.

See? You CAN take macro shots without spending $$$!





About filmcamera999

ME & MY PASSION! ok, you probably looked at the length of this "about me" page and thought, god, what's wrong with this guy!....does he have to start telling us his life story or something!!? well, youve come here now anyways, so why not hear what im like as a person, eh? ive been using film cameras for well over 30 years...my first one being the family yashicamat twin lens! over the years, ive both bought sold and collected film cameras...too many to tell the truth! in fact, ive been buying and selling cameras well before the internet came on the scene, so anything you purchase from me is backed by my self-styled moneyback promise.....if you dont like what youve bought, send it back within 14 days and you get all your money back...no arguments!! WHERE I STAND ON THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION! yes, i do use digital as well, but only as a ready-reckoner...i try and take most shots with my simple 2megapixel digicam....if the shot looks good, i pull out my film camera and shoot! i most defintely do not believe in digital manipulation of photographs....that in my eyes is not photography...its cheating! WHERE I USED TO LIVE, WHERE I AM NOW & WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO DO! i used to live in Ontario, Canada, but moved back to the UK a little while ago (its a long story..!)...but now i'm living in the one place i always wanted to be...Vancouver, BC..the next best thing to paradise on earth! as i work as a freelance writer as well as other things, i often find hat my work takes me to europe for short spells, so i get to travel a lot...not a blessing, as i just hate long flights! im a qualified Quality Assurance guy (you know...ISO 9000, auditing, documentation etc) ....99% of my skill-set is transferable so i can handle any admin or documentation-related roles....see you in BC! otherwise, i specialise in ISO 9000 auditing and documentation. my dream? to have my own thriving camera shop in Vancouver BC, whilst living in the mountains somewhere.....the best of both worlds!
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2 Responses to I want to take macro shots, but can’t afford a macro lens!

  1. artsifrtsy says:

    You can buy an older legacy macro lens – and use an adapter to focus manually too! I picked up an OM macro lens a while back and even found a bellows – macro heaven πŸ™‚ Nice post. I think most people have no idea how versatile their DSLR is!

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