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Experimenting with Macros without a Macro Lens

I came across this article on Photojojo about using your existing lens and turning it around to use it as a macro lens. This wasn’t the first time I’ve encountered this technique, but finally, I decided to put it into action.

In that article, it said to take your existing lens off your camera, turn it around so it’s backwards, then hold it close against your camera body’s lens mount, and take photos. It wasn’t quite that easy for me.

I quickly discovered that it wasn’t going to work. I had no way to change the aperture, which was fully closed when it was off the camera body. Ah well.

Luckily, I had old lenses still kicking around from the days when I still shot using film with my Minolta X7A. I still have the X7A and the lenses & flash, just haven’t used them since I arrived in Sri Lanka, which is when I moved over to a digital compact camera due to the high cost of developing & printing film.

So I pull out my 28mm f2.8, set the aperture to wide open, and start experimenting. Ah, finally, all is not completely black. 🙂

So I take a picture of my lens cap. Because, yes, I’m a geek. Or  a dork. Whichever is most applicable in these circumstances. 🙂 And then I take a photo of a bobbin of thread as my next experiment, cranking the ISO way up because the lighting in my dining room is not conducive to well-lit photography. 🙂

Then I head outside, where all the flowers and pretty things reside. I even spotted what looked similar to a dragon fly but with bright red wings. Alas, the regular lens was inside and there was no way to get close enough before it flew off.

Ah well.

This is where it got fun. 🙂

Turns out, I had to have the front of lens (or the back of the lens, depending on the semantics) within an inch or two of whatever I was photographing if I wanted anything in focus. Add to that that we pretty much always have a slight breeze, and at that close a proximity, whatever I tried focusing on would be in focus out of focus in focus out of focus in focus out of focus in a matter of milliseconds. Because, yes, my depth of field was *that* shallow. And I had to play around with ISO and shutter speed since the camera couldn’t figure this out automatically – it actually refused to take any pictures at all unless I was in manual mode. Guess that’s what happens when you don’t have a lens attached. 🙂

I ended up deleting 48 of the 81 photos I took on general principles.

Fahim: What are those? Clouds?
Me: Uh, no. That’s a jasmine flower.

Yeah. 😉

But some turned out pretty good. 🙂 And a few turned out looking like weird abstracts. 😀

Next time, I play with the aperture a bit closed down to see how much of an increase in depth of field I can get while still being able to take reasonable photos. And playing with my other two manual lenses – a 28-70 and a 70-300 – and see what those will do for me. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Experimenting with Macros without a Macro Lens”

  1. Beautiful closeups! I like the purple flower on top right 🙂

    I tried the same technique last year using my D60 and an 18-55mm kit lens… because I don’t have the money for a macro lens I had to use this technique.

    you can see some of the results of my reverse lens macro here:

    Angry red weaver ant

    Dead fly

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