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Monday, June 15, 2009

Reversed 50mm Macro

50mm reverse macro
© 2009 Simon Hucko

Want to shoot macro but don't want to drop the $$ on a dedicated macro lens? Try reversing your lens. I took the above shot using my 50mm f1.8 prime. Turn the camera off, remove the lens, flip it around, open the aperture all the way, and start shooting in manual. Most cameras won't meter in this configuration, but it's not too hard to dial in exposure using the histogram (more on that some other time). The result is an incredibly shallow depth of field and a close focusing distance, simulating the look of a macro lens.

A few caveats:
  • As I already mentioned, your camera will not meter this way. Time to practice your manual exposure skills
  • The back of your lens will be exposed. Scratching this can have more of a detrimental effect than scratching the front element, so be careful
  • Your camera body will be open, and every mirror flip will suck any particulates (dust, pollen, etc) into the camera and onto your sensor. Do this in a relatively dust free area (your kitchen for example), or be prepared to clean your sensor

You can buy an adapter (called a reversing ring) that will screw into the filter thread on your lens and then mount to the camera. This keeps the camera a little cleaner and eliminates the possibility of dropping the lens, if you're squeamish about those sort of things.

Oh, and you all shot 100 frames over the weekend, right? Just checking ;)



  1. Cool, I'll have to try it, although I think I will get some sub-par results with 18-55mm.

  2. I read somewhere that you can do this with two lenses, too (one on camera, the other reversed), and they were talking about using a zoom. My advice would be to put the 55-200 on camera and use the 18-55 at the widest setting. Don't forget to hold open the aperture lever.

    Let me know how that works