High magnification macro photography on Dreamstime

Macro photography is why I have started my photography seriously two years ago. World of insects, bugs, spiders. To be able to see such a small details of a small jumping spider, or a ladybug, butterfly, dragonfly or just a house fly, was very interresting to me, so I have decided to give myself a try with macro photography.

For a while I was amazed with 1:1 standard macro magnification which you can get with every standard macro lens. But still there are some subjects that are just to small even for 1:1 magnification, or they posses such a details that are not possible to see with just a 1:1 magnification without a significant cropping of image. Which then leads to very small image that can often be refused here. So if you don't want to spend a lot of money buying an expensive macro extension tubes with contacts, and expensive high-quality teleconverters, you can try reverse lens macro.

I have buyed a very cheap 28mm M42 old manual lens, and a reverse ring adapter and very cheap extension tubes without contacts(because you don't need them since you will use your lens in reversed way). For all this I have spend about 70$. You must know one thing. The wider the lens are, more magnification you will get by reversing them. So lens with 24mm, 28mm and 35mm are highly recommended for reverse macro photography. If you combine them with cheap macro tubes, you will achieve even more magnification.

Reverse lens tecnique have some drawbacks, like no focus ability, you will need to focus by moving your camera up forward or backwards to achieve focus. You will need to control your aperture manualy with your finger. Working distance from lens to your subject is pretty small, and depth of field is also very very small. But magnification that you will get is superb.

It will be very hard to achieve sharp image. Sometimes I get 1 or 2 sharp images out of 50-60 shots. So you will need a lot more patience then before, but as I have already said...images that you will get, will be great. So is it worth it? Offcourse. As you can see, all my images in this post are taken with this high magnification setup of 28mm reversed and with extension tubes.

You will also need a good source of light. For now I use my on camera flash with my home made flash diffuser, because I still don't have external flash, which I really recommend, and will buy soon. With external flash you will have even more lightning control then with on camera flash. With well illuminated subjects from your flash, you will be able to use ISO 100 or 200 to achieve best quality of your images, and you will have your shutter speed at 1/200s all the time. This will assure that your images will not be rejected because of high noise by using high ISO settings.

I really wanted to start with high magnification macro photography and try to present some of this remarkable details of insects, bugs, spiders etc. through my images here on Dreamstime. My favorite macro subjects are jumping spiders, so in future I will try to show you how beautiful little creatures they really are.

To get good quality and high magnification image, you DO NOT NEED expensive equpiment. You just need more patience and you will need to shoot more images than usual, just to be shure you will have that at least one sharp image that you need.

Thanks for reading, please feel free to leave some comments, specialy if you also use similiar setup to achieve high magnification.

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June 15, 2012

M4rio1979

Thanks Radub85. I use home made diffuser made of plain cardboard, and as diffusing material I use simple white napkin.

June 15, 2012

Radub85

Congratulations. Beautiful photos. What kind of diffuser are you using, from what material is it made?

June 12, 2012

M4rio1979

Thank you Ewapix :)

June 12, 2012

Ewapix

Thanks, Mario, great blog and amazing images. The spiders give me shivers :-)

June 12, 2012

M4rio1979

Thank you Thevegetable :)

June 12, 2012

Thevegetable

woww.. beautiful photo ..
I like all your photos .. :)
good job

June 12, 2012

M4rio1979

@Davidwatmough - Hi, David, I use Sony a700 and for a reverse lens I use cheap Sigma 28mm M42 old manual lens. It cost me under 40$, so I do not bother to much for exposing rear lens elements to dust or dirt. You cannot risk any dust in your sensor if you will use this lens only for reverse macro. That is why I recommend to buy a cheap manual lens which you will use only for reverse macro photography.

Only thing you need to change is extension tubes. Sometimes you need to add some extension tubes, and sometimes you need to remove certain tubes. And that is only thing you need to worry. I have asking my self same questions as you, until one day I decided to give it a try. So I can say to you all. Don't be afraid of any dust in your sensor if you will use certain lens only for reverse macro.

Even If you are using your 18-55mm lens for reverse macro, every time you are done with macro, just use blower on your rear element to blow off any posibble dust particles and that is all. Lenses...

June 12, 2012

Kikkerdirk

Hi Mario, beautiful images! I added one to one of my collections. Keep up the good work!

June 12, 2012

Davidwatmough

Very well done............ what camera and make of lens........... I cannot imagine risking a Nikon D700 or 800 for fear of getting dirt on the sensor............. have you found it a problem working with tubes and reversed lenses and doing a lot of lens changes ? David.

June 12, 2012

M4rio1979

Thank you all for your kind words.

@Kelpfish - you can find all kind of bugs and spiders everywhere around you. I usually find them near the lake where I go to shoot some dragonflies. And I have a several places where I know that I can find some jumping spiders.

Second question, how do I get them to hold still for me? well you can't get them to hold still. If you get lucky they will be still for a few seconds. Example, this ladybug was completely still for 5 minutes because I that day i was on a lake in a morning hours, and she was on a leaf in a deep shade. I took almost 30-40 images and go, she was still in a same position :).

With jumping spiders is another story...with them you need to have much luck. And shoot a lot of pictures. They can be still for about 3-4 seconds...usually I can get good images of jumpers when they clean themselves. Then they can be still for a longer period of time. Or when they eating.

Problem is that people see this images which are sharp, but If...

June 12, 2012

Jianbinglee

Thank you for your article!
Very inspiring!
Very beautiful images!

June 11, 2012

Ginarothfels

Wonderful photos. I hope one day I'll be able to produce something as good!

June 11, 2012

Kelpfish

Nice work! Where do you find the bugs and how do you get them to hold still for you?

June 11, 2012

M4rio1979

Thanks a lot...I'm glad that you agree with me Lfmpereira.

I hope my images will help someone to decide to give a try with a reversed lens macro photography. I myself did not believe that such high quailty images are possible with very old and cheap lenses, but I hope my images will convice you and anwser your possible question: "Can I really have superb quality images with some old manual lenses?" Yes you can :)

Thanks again for your and everyone else comments, I'm really glad that you like my images. Did I say that I love jumping spiders? :))

June 11, 2012

Lfmpereira

I've been reading a book about doing what you are saying, too. It's pretty amazing what we can do with cheap accessories like extension tubes or even by reversing a lens.

I will try to do that, someday (but not now, i just bought a flash that blew away my budget for the next year) :).

Thanks.

P.S - I've been willing to tell you that you have absolutely amazing photos of spiders. Really great images. Congrats.

June 11, 2012

M4rio1979

Thanks a lot Gianni

June 11, 2012

Giannit

Great macro.... you are a great photographer...

June 10, 2012

Halilin

Thanks... for the information...

June 10, 2012

M4rio1979

Thanks a lot for commenting. I agree with Unteroffizier that adding more tubes means getting even more close to the subject, but that is the price you need to pay for cheap high magnification. My working distance with full set of extension tubes is about 5-6cm from the subject. But I have armed myself with patience :)

June 10, 2012

Unteroffizier

Great shots you have here. Insect macro takes lots of patience and perserverance, and a good eye. Although reversing macro primes and adding extension tubes can increases magnification, we lose on focusing distance, which may spook the subject if we do not keep at a distance away. With the right equipment setup and proper external lighting system, any average shooter should be able to get more keeper images out of 50/60 shots. Cheers!

June 10, 2012

FabioConcetta

Wonderful macro, portraits of the spiders are my favorite!

June 10, 2012

Banol2007

Nice & impressive collection! Now I am learning the macro pictures taking subject & thanks for shearing! Very useful blog!

June 09, 2012

Martingraf

I used this method many years ago on my film camera - but as you say - you need to take up to 50-60 pics to get that one really good on, so it got too expensive and frustrating. Now with digital I might give it another go - I was rather impressed regarding the quality of your images - congratulations!

June 09, 2012

Lostarts

Very useful and practical. Thank you for the information.

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Photo credits: Mario Čehulić.