Mag­nify with­out a macro lens

Don’t want to fork out for a macro lens? Try one of th­ese af­ford­able al­ter­na­tives

NPhoto - - News -

If you’ve ever longed to take macro pho­tos but can’t jus­tify buy­ing more kit, we’re go­ing to tell you how to do it on the cheap. Get­ting a close-up of a flower or in­sect is achiev­able to some de­gree with a stan­dard lens, but the most straight­for­ward method of get­ting a 1:1 (life-size) re­pro­duc­tion is to use a macro lens. Th­ese lenses are fairly ex­pen­sive, though, and if you’re only dab­bling in macro photography, buy­ing one may be hard to jus­tify.

There are sev­eral op­tions which achieve a sim­i­lar end re­sult to a macro

There are sev­eral op­tions which achieve a sim­i­lar end re­sult to a macro lens

lens, only by al­low­ing you to use ex­ist­ing lenses and so for far less cost. Both meth­ods re­quire a lens with a de­gree of man­ual con­trol, so a Nikon D-type lens is prefer­able as it will have a man­ual aper­ture ring. Oth­er­wise you can use a G-type lens, but you’ll need to se­cure the spring-loaded lens aper­ture arm (which you’ll find at the base of the lens) in place us­ing tape.

The first method is to use a lens re­ver­sal ring, which will set you back around £15/$20. This at­taches to the D-SLR mount, then you screw the front of the lens on to it. This re­verses the usual be­hav­iour of the lens: nor­mally it mag­ni­fies ob­jects that are far away and makes them ap­pear smaller on the sen­sor than they are in real life, whereas reversed it makes small sub­jects ap­pear larger and re­duces the fo­cus dis­tance ac­cord­ingly. The down side to us­ing a re­vers­ing ring is that the lens con­tacts are no longer ac­ces­si­ble, so there’s no elec­tronic con­trol over fo­cus or aper­ture.

The other op­tion worth ex­plor­ing is ex­ten­sion tubes (£55/$75 for a set with con­tacts). Th­ese sit be­tween the cam­era and lens. This re­duces fo­cal dis­tance, so you can get closer to the sub­ject, achiev­ing a sim­i­lar re­sult to a macro lens. If the tube has con­tacts be­tween the mount and lens then both aper­ture and fo­cus can be con­trolled. If not, both will need to be set man­u­ally. Many thanks to SRB Pho­to­graphic for sup­ply­ing the re­ver­sal rings, ex­ten­sion tubes and close-up fil­ter.

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