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Thread: reversed lens macro

  1. #1

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    reversed lens macro

    I guess out of this or people, this probably belongs here but doesnt quite fit either.

    A while ago i saw a thing about the reversed lens technique for macro photography, but didnt have a dslr at the time. During the week while away on a course, i remembered it, and on a quiet evening decided to give it a go.

    Bloody hell does it work, its a phenomenal difference:

    reversed lens macro

    This image is done with a reveresed kit canon 18-55 lens just held in place by hand. The lens normally has a max magnification of approx 1:3. By reversing it, and pointing the camera at a ruler, i measure the view to be about 5mm across, or approximately a 4:1 magnification since its an aps-c sensor.

    Field of view becomes extreemely limited as the aperture on the lens is stuck wide open. Similarly IS doesnt work without the contacts in contact, but a different kind of IS is needed for macro work anyway, so im not sure how effective it would be if it could be active.

    With the my second lens, i could try double lens reveresed technique, which in theory could give a magnification of 14:1 (250/18). I did try this and it was like looking down a microscope when peeking through the viewfinder, but shake was an even greater issue, so with poor light i didnt even bother trying a capture.

    Has anyone else had much experiance with reveresed lens macro? any tales to share if so?

    Bonus points to anyone who can figure out/guess what's in the picture.

  2. #2

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    Re: reversed lens macro

    Are you talking about holding a second lens up to the lens attached to the camera? If so I'd like to hear more from other people about this... I recent got my dad's old Canon SLR cameras with his lenses from my sister. They're all FD lenses, so unfortunatly I can't mount them - but had thought about doing what I think your describing. Amoung the FD lens collection there is a 50mm prime, which I thought would work well with my EF 50mm prime -- the FD lenses seem to be a heck of a lot smaller. I can't really figure out why though - arn't they both designed for a 35mm recording surface?

  3. #3

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    Re: reversed lens macro

    there are two slightly different techniques. The one i used for this image is a single lens reversed, i.e detatched from the body and held against it backwards (http://www.flickr.com/photos/larajade/353212395/) if you dont want to have to hold it, you could create a cheap reverse mount by glueing an old UV (or similar) filter to a body cap with the center cut out. Im not sure exactly how this one works in terms of figureing out what magnification you will get etc. Since the lens is dettatched, you dont get control of the aperture so it will be stuck wide open, or closed down depending on what your lens defaults to, you can force it eslewhere by setting aparture, turning on DOF preview and then removing the lens while its all still on, not sure if this is healthy though. Im not sure what the magnification would be on just a reversed 50mm, but if you set its focus to infinity with the lens removed, and look down the front you can get a good idea of what the camera will see.

    The second technique is the one you speak of, with one lens attatched to the body, hold another lens backwards on the end of it (http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/DigiCam.../Reversal.html) which gives you a magnification of focallengthofattatchedlens/focallengthofreversedlns, i.e if i put my 55-250 lens on the body at 250mm, then held the kit 18-55 at 18mm on the end, the magnificatino would be about 14x. I tried holding it in place like that, and it indeed was insanely close to the object, but camera-shake is a big issue that close, so since light was poor i didnt get any capture. Again rather than holding in place, you could use a male-male filter ring to attach one to the other which would make things a bit more comfortable. So reversing your 50mm onto your 50mm you would get 1:1 macro.

  4. #4

    Re: reversed lens macro

    Nice post wjh. Rainy afternoon here so I had a play with a old Zuiko 50mm f1.4. I reversed the lens and and hand held the lens in place using the other hand to hold the camera. Flash is bounced off the ceiling with constant side light from a LED torch. The first thing you notice is the wafer thin DoF. Just a few mm. the first image illustrates the DoF. I really like the effect this gives and the Bokeh is excellent.

    1. Depth of field illustrated on this watch serial No

    reversed lens macro

    2. Predictable image but not bad for a 35 year old lens

    reversed lens macro

    3. an even older Zeiss Ikon lens from 1956

    reversed lens macro

    4. Gaining confidence with DoF. The hand wind of an OM2N

    reversed lens macro

    5. Yashica

    reversed lens macro

    6. I suspect I am giving my age away with these images

    reversed lens macro

    7. Unpredictable results of that shallow DoF

    reversed lens macro

  5. #5

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    Re: reversed lens macro

    well youve taken to that like a duck to water, some impressive images there. though 50mm wont have presented quite as many camera shake issues as 18mm, since i gather with a reversed lens, a smaller focal length coresponds to a greater magnification. I imagine an old lens also gives you manual control of aperture for DOF?

    img_1568.jpg

    Above is another attempt i did with the double reversed lens. 55-250IS on the body with kit 18-55IS hand-held reversed. long lens at 250, wide at 18 which in theory gives a mangnification of ~14x, so a field of view of 1.6mm on the aps-c sensor. The image is done at 1/500s at ISO12800, hense some quite harsh noise. Camera shake accounts for some of the poor image quality as trying to keep the camera still to within tenths of a mm is bloody hard hand held. DOF keeps on shrinking too, both lenses were wide open. The image itself is the end of a pen not disimilar to that in wirefox's #2 picture. Pretty unusable, but an interesting exercise. Having a look at google images (http://www.caltexsci.com/LX100/media/pen%202.5x%201.jpg described as 60x), i believe a similar level of magnification would be achieved from a microscope of approximately 150x magnification, which is just insane. With a coupleing ring to join the two lenses properly, a macro rail and a remote, this set-up could be very interesting.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6

    Re: reversed lens macro

    Quote Originally Posted by wjh31 View Post

    Bonus points to anyone who can figure out/guess what's in the picture.
    Bit of a watch strap?

    Was it a Canon EF lens? If so you should be able to stop the lens down by setting the body to the aperture you want with the lens on. Press the DoF preview button and then remove the lens while holding the DoF preview button down - the lens should stay stopped down.

    Put it back on a camera without the button pressed and the aperture will open up again.

    The viewfinder will be dark but if you can get enough light on the subject you'll hopefully still be able to see enough to focus.

    There's actually a special gadget to make this technique much easier: Clicky. It's not exactly cheap though

  7. #7
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    Re: reversed lens macro

    This looks very interesting ... anyone know how I can do this macro stuff using a Nikon DSLR D3000 with the 18-105 lens?
    Ron

    ps As a new member how can I 'suscribe' to threads that I want to watch?
    Ron
    Last edited by RonH; 23rd November 2009 at 11:51 AM.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: reversed lens macro

    Hi Ron,

    This is hopefully the same on your D3000 ...

    On my D5000, if I have the mode dial set to Aperture/Shutter Priority or Program/Scene modes, it will just say something like "No lens fitted" and shut down
    I must have the mode dial set to "Manual" then I can play around (in my case with manual extension tubes)

    Enjoy yourself,

  9. #9
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: reversed lens macro

    Ron,

    Further thoughts;

    1) Be careful not to get dust and crud in the camera body, so don't do it outside on a windy day, do it with body pointing downwards so foriegn objects cannot fall into the lens hole
    2) With that lens, you'll be stuck with using the 'wide open' aperture I suspect, meaning DoF will be very limited - the methods suggested for aperture preselection aren't available on the D3000/5000
    3) Exposure will be easiest judged by trial and error (more of the latter to start with ), histogram on review will help
    4) Live View may help further, but increases the risks of crud getting on sensor and will get through battery quicker
    5) Be careful not to scratch the back element, they probably don't make filters for them and you will be necessarily having objects very close to it

    This explains my preference for extension tubes, where I use an old 50/1.8 lens (the right way round) and it has an aperture ring (thank heavens) - however, with tubes alone, you won't get these levels of magnification

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 23rd November 2009 at 12:05 PM. Reason: add more thoughts

  10. #10
    RonH's Avatar
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    Re: reversed lens macro

    Thanks for these tips Dave.
    I must give it a go when I am brave enough and my hands are not shaking!
    I have also read that you can get 'magnifying filters' at low cost (compared to proper lenses!) that screw onto the end of the lens for macro work. Will have a search on this also.
    Ron

    PS I think I have sorted out how one gets email notice of post replies ... will find out next time!

  11. #11

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    Re: reversed lens macro

    Magnifying filters will give you some extra magnification, but reversing the lens will make a much bigger different. The key thing to remember is that with a reversed lens, you'll need to set the focal length as small as possible to get the maximum magnification, 18mm in your case. Once youve done that, just hold it backwards against the body and get close to your subject, working distance will be a few inches tops, move back and forth till your subject falls into (shallow) focus.

    @Andy: yes its a watch strap. Its an EF-S lens, and the process you described does indeed work, but ive not tried it properly yet as the room im in is dim enough as it is!

  12. #12

    Re: reversed lens macro

    Quote Originally Posted by wjh31 View Post
    @Andy: yes its a watch strap.
    Sweet....although I am used to seeing the world in macro (I've normally got a Canon MP-E 65mm stuck to my camera....it's awesome for this kind of stuff and makes it as easy as it can be)

    In the right hands it's amazing what a reversed 50mm can do though - check these out

  13. #13
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    Re: reversed lens macro

    This reversed macro technique makes it possible for me to do macro shots since I don't have a real macro lens due to a small budget.
    I tried some rlm's since a read this topic and to me the results are reasonable. The only thing that bothers me is the lack of sharpness in the entire picture. The very shallow dept of field makes this a common problem but even after setting up a shoot very carefully on a shot that looks nicely sharp through the viewfinder, I still don't get a stunning sharp shot.

    Here is my latest attempt: (for earlier attemps see my flickr photostream)

    reversed lens macro

    I don't know for sure but it seems to me that the plane of focus had to be just a little bit further away. The right side of the first finger seems to be the sharpest thing.

    But even with this information it's really difficult to fix this. The turning of the focus ring has to be just a tiny tiny bit. And if you move the lens a tiny little bit everything has to be done over again.
    Do you have tips about how to imporve sharpness and control of the position of the plane of focus?

  14. #14
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    Re: reversed lens macro

    Quote Originally Posted by JK6065 View Post
    Do you have tips about how to imporve sharpness and control of the position of the plane of focus?
    JK6065,

    I have four suggestions:

    First, find the optimum, defraction-free f/stop for your lens, which is usually about f/8 to f/11. This should be the same for standard mount or reverse mount. Minimal defraction = maximum sharpness.

    Second, purchase an inexpensive body-to-reverse lens mount, and an inexpensive lens-to-lens reverse mounting ring. Reverse-mounting a 28-mm lens onto a 135-mm lens = 135/28 = 4.8-magnification.

    Third, consider investing in an inexpensive, flash-mount ringlight, which will allow repeatable exposures, such as 1/200 at f/11. (My trial set-up: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?...&id=1219022889)

    Fourth, consider investing in an inexpensive wrack-focusing platform to support your camera & lens on a tripod. This will allow you to micro-advance between photographs, which will slightly focus-bracket your DoF. Using PhotoShop, you can "stack focus" multiple images, rendering inclusive focus front-to-back. I have NOT tried this.

    I am new to DSLR macro-photography, learning reverse lens mounting, lens-to-lens mounting, extension tube macros, and primary lens macros (Nikkor 55-mm & Nikkor 105-mm). I would like to communicate with others of like mind. Please e-mail to Nikonian72@aol.com

    Douglass Moody
    Long Beach CA

  15. #15

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    Re: reversed lens macro

    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    This looks very interesting ... anyone know how I can do this macro stuff using a Nikon DSLR D3000 with the 18-105 lens?
    Ron

    ps As a new member how can I 'suscribe' to threads that I want to watch?
    Ron
    Hi,
    There are some rings to invert the lens for Nikon mount BL 2A 52mm(for prime lens 55 or 50mm or zoom 18-55) For 18-105 zoom which has filter diameter 67mm you could use two step down rings 67/62 and 62/52mm.Generaly speaking You could have to have a lens with aperture ring(Nikon D lens).Much easier is a macro(close-up) filters Cokin or other brand.
    Success
    Radu Dinu

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