Skip to main content

How to do macro photography using reverse lens technique?

If pictures of extremely small objects sometimes draw your attention, then this post is for you. Taking pictures of small insects, objects, etc comes under the branch of macro photography. There are multiple techniques in order to do close up or macro photography as mentioned in the list below. In the next section, we will get started with the third technique i.e. reverse lens macro photography. 

1) Extension tubes: Electric and Non electric. 
2) Macro lenses
3) Reverse lens technique.

Close up or a macro shot can be achieved using a cheap kit lens with little bit of work. The quality of pics produce by using the reverse lens macro technique is simply astonishing. All you need is a reversing ring matching your lens filter size. The filter size of my canon 18-55 kit lens is 58 mm, the reversing ring is shown in the image below.

ring for macro reverse photography
                                                  Reverse macro ring for canon 58mm 

Once you have the ring, following are the steps:
1) The ring comes with threads. Screw the ring to the front element of your kit lens. Set the lens focal length to 55 mm. Lower the focal length, the closer you have to be the subject and thus greater magnification.

reverse macro ring attached to kit lens
                                            Canon kit lens with reverse macro ring attached 

2) Disconnect the lens from your DSLR body and attach it backwards. The ring has threads which help in the attaching the lens in reverse direction.

reverse macro using kit lens
                                                  Kit lens in reverse macro style on 40D 

3) Turn on the DSLR camera. F-stop value would be 00 as there is no electrical connection between the lens and the DSLR body. Don't worry about controlling the depth of field as of now. Manual focus lenses (ring to adjust f-stop value) really help to achieve a superior depth of field, will make a separate post explaining this. 

4) Look through the viewfinder and go close to a really small object such as a coin, almond, pen cap, etc. Everything would look blurry and out of focus. For accurate focus, concentrate on one object and move back n forth. You will see a particular distance at which the object would get in focus. This is your optimal distance, stick to it.

5) Take a few shots and adjust shutter speed accordingly for exposure. As there is a lot of vibrations, I would definitely recommend either a higher shutter speed or using a tripod. To compensate for a proper exposure, inbuilt or hot-shoe mounted flash can also help. This topic would be covered in detail in the next post.

Here are some sample shots that were taken by me using this technique.

macro reverse lens photo
                                                                     Reverse lens macro 

macro reverse lens photograph
                                                                  Reverse lens macro 

macro reverse lens photo
                                                                   Reverse lens macro 

macro reverse lens photo
                                                          Reverse lens macro 

Reverse lens macro photography is not an easy technique, it needs a lot of patience and practice. I would definitely add that the pain is totally worth it, as you can see in the example images. A 5 dollar reverse macro lens ring from eBay is all you need, so why not give it a try? Share your results in comments.
Pro Tip:
18 mm -> Example photography subjects: Cumin Seed, Fruit fly, Ant, etc. 
55 mm -> Example photography subjects: Currency coins, cashews, keyboard alphabet, etc. 

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, share the photography love by sharing this post:)


  1. And that is the first time that an explanation of reverse lens has come to my attention . Now I know . Thanks for that .

  2. There are also some adapters that fit onto the reversed lens and connect to your camera. These are nice because they give you access to your camera controls (as if it was a regular lens on the camera)
    Of course, the macro rings also work well


Post a comment

Popular posts from this blog

Canon CR3 raw format guide

A raw image file is like a digital negative without any lossy compression and minimal processing applied to it. A digital camera shooting images in raw format provides output in the best possible quality, which means files are larger in size and take more space. The benefits offered by shooting raw format overpowers the slight storage hassle though. Few of the well known raw formats include CR2, NEF, RW2, RAF, PEF, ARW, etc.  In this post, we will talk about the new compressed raw format introduced by Canon starting with its mirrorless series of cameras.

History of Canon raw formats
Back in the early 2000s, Canon cameras produced raw photos in CRW format. Cameras shooting in CRW include Canon D60, Canon D30, Canon 10D, and Canon EOS 300D. Most of the cameras released after the year 2004 shoot raw photos in CR2 format. Examples of CR2 format Canon cameras include 350D, 6D, 7D, 5D, 5D Mark II and many more.
In 2018, Canon introduced its new mirrorless camera known as the EOS M50.  This …

Relation between ISO, shutter speed, aperture and light in photography

Photography is a word having Greek roots, which basically means "drawing with light". When I started doing digital photography a few years ago, this did not make sense to me at all. How can you make a picture just using light? Only light matters? My pictures were either black or completely washed out all the time, but I didn't feel like giving up. It took me a fair amount of time to understand controls such as shutter speed, aperture and ISO which was the outcome of non-stop reading and a lot of mistakes. Coming back to the concept of light, it started to make sense after attending a film photography workshop. The dark room with very dim or near to zero red lights was a whole new point of interest. My partner and I made a pinhole camera out of a pumpkin. 
The workshop made me understand how important light is when taking pictures, and the rules apply to both film and digital photography. Basically, the value of shutter speed and aperture directly affect the amount of li…

F2.8 vs F3.5 vs F4 lens aperture comparison with examples

I started the exciting journey of digital photography with 18-55 mm kit lens as my first glass. Being a variable aperture lens, it has a minimum aperture of F3.5 at 18 mm. The lens saw its fair share of adventures and ultimately was replaced with a fixed aperture lens.   Value of aperture is a part of the exposure triangle, which means it affects the amount of light hitting DSLR camera sensor. In addition to light, it also affects the amount of area in focus which is often referred to as Depth of Field. An image taken at F8 will have almost everything in focus when compared to an image taken at F2.8. Before someone jumps on me with their DOF vocabulary, this post is not about depth of field (DOF) in detail discussion. It is a simple comparison post for beginners to understand how lens aperture impacts background blur and low light performance. 
DSLR used: Canon 6D Lens used: Tamron 24-70 mm F2.8 DI VC USD
Bokeh (background blur) comparison:

Comparison animation in the above photo show…