Reverse Macro Photography

Macro Test - Normal
Picture 1 – as close as we can get with the bundled NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens without cropping

Reverse Macro Photography is a technique I remember reading about months ago but didn’t get around to trying until today.  Most people I know who recently bought a DSLR camera also bought a prime lens to compliment their kit lens.  Like most Nikon users on a budget, I bought the inexpensive NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D.

Macro lenses are expensive, so here’s a way we can experiment with macro photography without killing our wallets.

The first step is to stack your two lenses together.  With my 18-55 lens mounted on my camera and zoomed to 55mm, I opened the aperture on my 50mm lens all the way to f/1.8 and focused to infinity.

Next you need to hold the two lenses together so they are touching front to front.  I kept my UV protection filters on each lens so that if anything got scratched, it would be a cheap filter instead of a lens.

Turn your mounted lens on manual focus and zoom in by moving closer and further away from the object until it comes into focus.  I used aperture-priority mode for the shot below with no problems, but if your camera is having trouble metering then switch to manual mode.

Reverse Macro Test - Normal
Picture 2 – taken with the 18-55mm lens and the 50mm lens stacked together, no crop

Vignetting occurred but it’s nothing we can’t crop out:

Reverse Macro Test - Cropped
Picture 3 – after cropping

If you get really into reverse macro photography, it might be a good idea to buy a macro reversing ring which screws onto the front of each lens and holds them together.  I’ll be showing examples of shots taken with this technique throughout the week.

12 thoughts on “Reverse Macro Photography

  1. Jonasacorda – Have fun!

    Craig – Thanks, just trying to tide myself over until I finally fork over the cash for a Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor.

    Arex – Cool stuff. I think a tripod would really hinder your ability to move closer and away from the object.

  2. Unless you plan to shoot macro professionally, you might be better off with a Tokina, Tamron or Sigma macro lens – they are all about NT$10K. I have a Tokina 100mm f2.8 that’s great for the little bit of macro that I do.

  3. Sounds great Craig! I’ll keep my eye-out for a secondhand one next time I’m in Taipei or Taichung. Now I just need to decide what I want more this time around:

    a) macro lens b) 35mm f/1.8 c) extra speedlight d) D90 [better get my wife’s approval first on the last one]

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