- Shorter focal lengths will yield higher magnification ratios.
- You'll need to get very close to your subjects with the front of the lens.
- Focusing is done by physically moving the camera back and forth in very small increments.
- Aperture control will be disconnected, so you won't be able to adjust depth of field.*
Macro lenses for your DSLR or mirrorless camera can be very pricey, especially good ones. That's one of the main reasons that many talented photographers never really delve into looking at the world through the macro perspective and that's a shame. There's a way to nail incredible macro shots without making a huge investment in equipment and it's not only simple, it's fun.
I'm sure most readers have heard of a reversing ring, but for those that haven't, it's a simple device that lets you turn a lens around and mount the front of it to your camera, pointing the inner element at the objects you want to photograph. It's an inexpensive solution and in most cases, will give you much better results than a close-up “filter”. That's because the only thing that's altered in the optical path is the direction the light travels through the lens.
Because the lens is reversed, instead of compressing a big scene into a small circle that fits the camera sensor, it now magnifies a very small area so that it covers the sensor, getting you “up close and personal” with the subject. You'll be amazed at the results, but there are a few things to know before you start:
*There's a way around that last issue that highlights one of the cool things about shooting macro this way. Since you're connecting the lens to the reversing ring via the filter threads, you can use pretty much any lens, even if it's not made for your camera! In fact, one of the best ways is to fit a lens made for a film SLR that has an aperture control ring and “Voila!”, you have depth of field control again.
You can find great quality, used lenses made for older SLRs and often at very low prices. Check out this short list of examples that will work nicely with a reversing ring:
Canon FL 50mm F1.4 BL Lens
GAF/Ansco 55mm f1.4 Auto M42 Lens
Konica 28mm f3.5 Hexar AR AE Lens
Now, remember, these lenses will work reversed on your DSLR regardless of the manufacturer, because you're mounting it by the filter threads. I recommend choosing and buying the lens first, so you'll know what filter size to specify when buying the reversing ring. I also recommend shopping at Used Photo Pro to find the best deals on rated and warrantied lenses like those above. You'll need to match the ring to your camera mount, so be sure to specify the exact type when you shop. Here's a good place to start.
As you can see, great macro photography doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Go get started!