How to take macro shots - the cheap way

Hello this is my first post on the blog here, and i decided to explain something about how to take macro shots, without a true macro lens. Because i have a Nikon camera i will exemplify with some accessories for Nikon.

You can take macro photos of insects or any other small object with the help of:

- extension tubes + lens

- extension tubes + reversed lens

- reversed lens

- macro lens (the ideal solution but also the most expensive one)

The extension tubes are very easy to use and the main advantage is that the tubes contain no optical elements. That's why they are tubes and not teleconverters wich are very commonly mistaken with. The disadvange is that you will need even more light (longer exposure time) to take photos with them, than with just the lens directly attached to the camera. There are 2 types of extension tubes: with AF contacts and without AF contacts. The advantage of the ones with AF contacts is that they will keep all the lens functions and you will be able to use the A, P and S modes without problems (with a normal atached lens, NOT a reversed one).

If you want to reverse a lens you will need the BR-2A adapter from Nikon to reverse the lens. You can use either zoom lenses or prime lenses but the primes will get you sharper photos and are easier to use. Lenses with an aperture ring are also easier to use, the ones without it will be a real pain. The wider the lens the wider the magnification, for example a reversed 50mm gives 1:1 magnification, 28mm 2.1:1, 24mm lens gives 2.6:1 magnification, and a 20mm lens gives 3.4:1 magnification. Remember that a reversed lens will be used only in M mode.

For a good depth of field (DOF) you should use an aperture of f/16, f/22, although you can also use f/8. Be very careful that at f/16 the viewfinder will be almost black and if you don't have a very good eyesight you will get yourself an out of focus photo.

Below i will post some photos i took with the above pieces of advice, but unfortunately the sales are low or none.

Hope the info i said here is accurate and useful, also if you have something to ask please be my guest. (Oh and sorry for the english mistakes).

Photo credits: Radub85.

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Great portfolio.

All of my macro images were taken using reverse lens. I can not afford a macro lens so I tried the cheaper alternative and achieved good results. :)

Thanks for sharing.


Great images :)

You could also add diopters to your list, I have had reasonable success with a raynox DCR150 and there are a number of other products on the market.

Another area that can help on occasions is focus stacking, naturally the greater the magnification the shallower the DOF there are a number of software solutions designed to get around this and Photoshop CS5 rejigged in built stacker is a diamond!


Very interesting !!!


Yes you are right, thanks for that info that i missed to write on the blog article, also thanks everybody for the nice words.


I try all the solution propose by you. The conclusion is simple. The best solution is to have a macro dedicated lens (50 mm or 60mm if u don;t have money for special Canon macro lens or 200 mm Nikon or new sigma 150 OS or tamron 180).

For smaller focal lenses is recomended to have tubes because the system anyway will be light and easy for control, in other case lenses are heavy and u need good tripod.

Reverses lens is only recomended for DX camera on FX camera will appear high vignette and u neeed a camera with more mpx to work in crop. It;s very ok for a cheap lens 50 1.8 reverse with tubes 50mm or 100mm, and u will have a nice macro setup, but important in macro is light....the direction of light (left or right) not perpendicular on a subject...and on strobe u must have a diffuser for soft shadow.

Anyway for good macro results u must take several images of the subject with different focus point in different parts and in photoshop or other software combine in one photos and finally u will obtain a single photo with a lot of details and in focus all the subject


Wow!Great images!Beautiful photos macro!Congratulations!


Your images are great, your system works pretty well.


Nice blog, beautiful macrophotos!


Good macros!


Beautiful images!!!


Very interesting shots !


Yes, Paul, I can see they're just leaves and I do pay attention to the background :-) I was just noticing how well this has been done on some of Radu's photos above and complimenting him.


Those were just leaves. You need to pay attention to what is behind when you are composing.


Great shots, my attempts at Macro aren't great, too much of the photo is out of focus usually and the subject moves too fast so I can't focus...
Love your clean green backgrounds that make the subjects stand out.


I did a blog a while back on the same subject. You may find it interesting:
It covers a number of additional techniques (such as combining a reversed lens with tubes) and has some photos with it.

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