Odd ways of macro photography


Nikon D200, Micro AF Nikkor 60mm/2.8D, extension tube, 1/15, f/10, ISO 800

The last guest article for the weekend "Odd ways of macro photography" is written by Junaed Rahman (websiteflickr):

The standard tool of macro photography is a Macro lens. That what the book says. But I learned to achieve high magnification when i didn't had any standard tool. However they are unlikely to generate good result but its always fun to do something new.

Transform a 18-55 or 35-80 mm wide zoom lens into a macro lens

While trying various methods to achieve magnification once I suddenly discovered that if I remove the front element of zoom lens like 35-80 mm, it turns into a macro zoom lens. The magnification is higher just like a reversed lens but I have total electronic control on exposure. A great blessing. Caution - do it at your own risk.



Convert an old teleconverter into an extension tube

I had an old Vivitar autofocus 2X teleconverter. As the digital era started it turned out that these converters can generate worst kind of image, so it became out of service. But why not through out the inner glass element of this converter and turn it into an extension tube. So i removed all the glass component and covered the shiny aspects with black felt found in the opening of good old film canister. Voila now I have a fully functional AF Vivitar extension tube. Which works perfectly with my Nikon D200 body. And it is solid too.


Reversing a wide angle lens

It is a known technique that if you attach your wide angle lens (e.g. 35 mm lens) in a reverse position with your camera you can achieve very high magnification.

 Your 24mm or 35 mm lens can suddenly take macro photo. 
There is no loss of light like bellows or extension tube.

If you use nikon SLR camera you can procure reverse ring BR-2A to mount the lens with the camera body and BR-6 auto diaphragm ring on the other side of the lens to regain control on aperture.


Dew Drops, Nikon FM2, AF Nikkor 35-80mm/4-5.6D, reverse mount, handheld


Nikon D200, AF Nikkor 70-210/4-5.6D @ 210mm, extension tube, tripod, 1/30, f/11, ISO 400


Nikon D200, Micro AF Nikkor 60mm/2.8D, tripod, 8sec, f/14, ISO 100


Nikon FM2, AF Nikkor 35-80mm/4-5.6D reverse mount, tripod, Provia 100F film

If you have an interesting idea for a guest postyou can contact me here.

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  • Colin Stuart

    Odd but easy on the wallet! I enjoy clever solutions like these, especially when they can lead to nice looking results!

  • Jan

    Amazing. Love it.

  • banzaii

    Innovative, creative–cheap! I celebrate with you on the results!

  • Jon Ingram

    Fantastic! Great guest post. Thanks for sharing

  • Kim A.

    One thing’s for sure: I will never buy a normal macro again! Why pay a thousand bucks to get to 1:1 when you can convert cheap obsolete lenses like you show here, and get more magnification and BETTER results!

    • Henri De Vreese

      Because a Macrolens is optimized for macro work. It’s much sharper, has no distortion or other lens problems. This might be a very good idea for an enthusiast that wants to try macro and see if he likes it, but once you start doing it more and more, the hunger for a real macrolens will start teasing you…

    • patto01

      Having used both, I can assure you the only benefit is cost. Obtaining greater than 1:1 magnification is the same whether you have a macro lens or some other device. And the results are almost entirely dependent on the photographer, with a true macro lens giving you an edge due to the increased shooting distance with longer focal lengths (I wouldn’t try photographing insects with a 60mm macro lens). That’s not to say you can’t get phenomenal results with the cheaper solutions but everything becomes more challenging.

      • Henri De Vreese

        I use 3 different macro lenses, 1 I use on a nearly daily basis and the others are used at least once a week. I also made a macrolens for a friend from an old lens (70-210 which is very good btw), he returned it to me after buying a simple 60mm f/2.8. I compared it to the 105 2.8G and they are not even close, colours are different because it lost some elements, distiortion is big and it got lots of CA. He was very happy with my lens, but he did give it back when he got the real thing…
        Yes, it’s about the photographers vision, but sometimes you need the right tools to translate that vision into images. Some shots I take with my 55mm cannot be taken with the 105/150mm and vice versa.

        • Patrick O’Connor

          I agree entirely. It’s all about using the right tool for the job. My reply to Kim was basically stating there’s no obvious benefit to a rigged macro system in terms of magnification or results (IQ, composition, etc.).
          Lately I’ve been looking at ways to improve my lighting for nature subjects. Since you appear to have a lot of experience; assuming you photograph insects, flowers, etc., what are you using?

          • Henri De Vreese

            I have very little experience with insects (I am a semi-pro fashion photographer and it’s mainly accesories and shoes on the macro side).
            I did do some flowers last year and mainly used an sb-900 with Rayflash flashring, just used in manual or ttl mode depending on the look I wanted.
            If insects and flowers are really your thing, you should look at the special macroflash kit from Nikon, it’s really the best you can get for macrowork (I rented it back in 2011 for an assignment).

    • Mansgame

      Try it! You will wish you had a macro lens.

  • Dover

    Realize that you are looking at these results on a screen that is between 72 and 92 dpi probably. Maybe a hair over 100dpi if you spent a lot of money on your monitor. Depending on the quality you demand, these solutions may not render high quality images.

  • Being on budget the #1 solution for macro photography is to reverse an old 50mm or 35mm lens and start with that… image quality is superb, and the price tag is very cheap… add some extension tubes from kenko and you get more then 1:1 but you will loose the light so focusing gets more difficult … still worth to try 🙂 nice shots btw…

  • samul

    Exactly the information I was looking for during this weekend. Thanks!

  • Michal Zdunek

    another great article ! thank you !

  • Jesse Cablek

    A number of years ago I used Vivitar extension tubes on a 70-300mm Nikon lens (have a set of 3 different size extensions). Worked out better than macro lens at the time only because I was shooting butterflies and couldn’t get too close. I was able to stand a number of metres away and still produce macro results this way. Obviously metering and focus was all manual, but I made do. Lighting was fairly consistent so I really only needed to dial in once

    • patto01

      It’s odd that you mention needing space to shoot butterflies and then, eventually bought a 60mm macro lens. How are you getting the required distance?

      • Jesse Cablek

        Point taken, I wasn’t clear enough. The trip was one time to a butterfly conservatory and not a regular thing for me. For most macro stuff I’m interested in the 60mm is great, though I’d love the 105mm too

  • Pat Mann

    Nice work and ingenious methods. Thanks for sharing, and thanks Admin for keeping these guest posts coming. If we can’t have a rumor on the D400 to get 3,000 comments, at least we have something interesing to do in the meantime!

  • stormwatch

    Now that is the Pure Photography!

  • _sem_

    Do you have any samples with the dismantled 18-55?
    The dew-drops sample is useful because it shows the bokeh (not smooth here).
    Reversed kit lenses may improve optically with an extension tube between the camera and the reversed lens (the magnification increases).
    Another possible mod is the kit lens set to wide angle (or better a wide prime like the AI-s 20/3.5) on a short extension tube (the thinnest pre-AI K1 is about 6mm – but careful with the lens electric contacts). Allows wide-angle closeups with low relative background blur, similar to P&S macro modes.

  • Kynikos

    Clever, creative stuff. Well done.

  • stesk

    You can also paint a house with a toothbrush.

    • Patrick O’Connor

      Now THAT is funny. Having done both (shooting macro with a dedicated lens vs. lens reversal…NOT painting a house with a toothbrush), I’d use the macro lens (sometimes adding a teleconverter/extension tubes/diopter lens) over lens reversal every time. It ain’t cheap, though!

      • Can’t Believe It

        But that’s the point. If you aren’t a big macro person but one day you get a special request from someone—your spouse wants a picture of her grandmother’s wedding ring—now you can make a completely decent shot without renting or buying a macro lens. Wife happy+bank account happy=you happy.

        • Patrick O’Connor

          Perhaps people should identify themselves, in topics like this, as being casual users vs aficionados. If I only shot macro infrequently, there’s no way I would spend that much money for a lens. The other thing people are forgetting is that macro lenses are excellent for portraits.

          • Can’t Believe It

            Maybe you can help me with a decision that’s been plaguing me for at least the last 18 months. I have rented and really love the look of the 105 f/2 DC for portraits but I keep hearing how great the 105 MicroNikkor is for portraits. They’re around the same price but I haven’t heard anyone really have strong opinions about one versus the other. Do you use your a macro lens for portraits? Do you like the way it renders the human face? Do you get nice even transitions from the shadow to the highlight side?

            • Patrick O’Connor

              I’m not sure how much help I’ll be. First, I have the Sigma 105 macro, not the Nikon. Second, while it’s a lot better than most non-portrait-specific lenses, it can’t compete with an 85mm f/1.4 or f/1.8. As for your specific questions, I shoot RAW so I don’t worry too much about the initial rendering of skin and I think the quality of your lighting has more effect on the quality of your transitions. But then, I’m primarily a nature photographer and only do portraiture when I have to. And lastly, I have no experience with either DC. From what I hear, they’re great once you learn how to use them but you’re not going to mount it the first time and take great photos.
              Just out of curiosity, why are you discounting the 85s?

            • Can’t Believe It

              Thanks. The 85s are cool but Francesco Scavullo used a 105 on his Nikon (with Tri-X) and I really like the way his faces look.

            • patto01

              I am absolutely NOT an expert but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that has almost nothing to do with how his portraits look. However, given the depth of field, I’d say you’ll be fine with the DC or a macro.

  • Maji

    Very creative and great images. Thank you for sharing.

  • Mansgame

    extension tubes are a pain in the butt but if you manage to get a picture in focus with it, you don’t lose much in quality. Nothing beats a real macro lens that can shoot at f/35 and focus to infinity however.

  • Can’t Believe It

    Wow. Another awesome post from a guest. Thanks! The best part, he uses a D200, the King of all Nikons!

  • albin

    Great post! Taking apart an old zoom is a briljant addition to the macro repertoire – worth a try!

  • Guy With-camera

    Great! but…Would this void my WARRANTY?

  • Justin

    took out all the screws on the 18-55 but cant separate the ring to get off the top element (basically all the pieces are just connected still a video or a real guide beyond pictures would be helpful)

    • Justin

      actually its the 18-55 GII ED not the regular first G i tried taking off the sticker and no screws either

  • G0nzo

    +1, very odd but very nice pics, better than the way to turn just the lens upside.

  • Website junaed.com are “Bandwidth Limit Exceeded” 🙂

    • sanzeed


  • bywhacky

    good idea for an unused http://ketteringsnappers.freeforums.net/thread/52/macrolens – lots more ways to diy macro here

  • Zen Hunter

    great stuff, i love to play with lenses of all types, Projector lenses are also a great cheap extension lens for good quality macro at a cheap price!! 😉

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