Macro Photography ~ Super Macro?!?!

April 20, 2016  •  Leave a Comment


This tiny flower is about the size of a large pencil eraser, smaller than a dime, in reality.


However, it filled my camera's view finder... and would blow up to poster size without any issue or problem. It's not cropped, not digitally enlarged, not created in photoshop. It's an optical magnification... using a regular kit lens, and a special 'toy' (errr, TOOL) that enables some awesome undocumented ability.


I used a REVERSE 18-55mm EF kit lens, not some expensive macro lens. I was about 1 inch away from the tiny little flower as it filled my viewfinder, with the sun light in front of the camera (so I didn't produce any shadows).


You'll need to purchase a mount adapter for REVERSING THE LENS (literally turning it backwards on your camera). It allows you to screw the front of your lens to the the mount - like a filter would, then mounts on your camera body (backwards).


You will need to pay close attention to the filter size of the lens you want to use... but the really cool part is that it turns your lens into an amazing 'magnification' (or macro) lens. I'd suggest getting the biggest one you believe you'll use, and then spending a few dollars on step down rings to allow it to work on different lens. (The problem with step-up rings is vignetting around the edges when you have too small of an adapter on larger lens).


Add a focus rail, I prefer a two axis (back & forth, as well as right or left). So, for about $50 USD, you can turn that little inexpensive kit lens you got into an amazing macro lens... capable of more than you can easily get out of a $400-1000 'real' macro lens, by just turning it around (backwards). Pretty cool, huh?

The 'zoom' works well, and the manual focus will still work (some lens will require you to also switch to manual focus when you change the aperture). In reality you have to move the camera forward or backward to 'get' the really fine focus on the object, which is when macro rails can really help save you a pile of time and headaches.

There are different size reverse adapter rings... though 52, 55, and 62mm are the three most common and least expensive options you can find on eBay. And you'll want METAL, not plastic.


The aperture is set in a bit of a strange way... you first have it on the camera the right way. Set the aperture you'll want, remember the lower the number the shallower the depth of field. The higher the number, the more depth of field there is. Unless there is a specific reason to change, to - for example - blow out a background, I usually try to set the f-stop around f/8 to f/11 for the most 'focal range' without 'stacking' (a photoshop trick, where multiple images with different focus points, are stacked). Once you have the f-stop set, POWER OFF THE CAMERA!

Then remove the lens... the internal leafs controlling the f-stop will remain the same unless they are powered on (by re-attaching the lens correctly).

And viola' you have an amazing piece of glass already in your kit... if you just flip it backwards, and have a little patience.


There are two ways most tripods can be adapted to help with macro photography.

a) MOST tripods with legs that can be moved out to nearly flat, has a piece at the bottom that can be moved in place of that often foot long center post. Or,

b) If the legs don't open out flat (where they are closer to the ground)... then the center post can usually be turned around (upside down), allowing you to mount your camera upside down.

Either option allows you to get closer. Either way, macro rails allows you to move the camera more finely, more quickly, more easily for optimum focus and positioning. Allowing you to get closer to the tiny object, which is particularly important if it moves.


Any questions?



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If you have any questions about photography, please feel free to ask. I might not know the answer off the top of my head, but odds are I can either help you find the answer or know someone that knows the answer. After nearly 45 years of playing with hundreds of different cameras, both film and digital, I probably don't know specific 'make and model' info... but I UNDERSTAND PHOTOGRAPHY, and the PRINCIPLES & CONCEPTS of capturing and creating good to great images.
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