Shoot Macro Photos Without Macro Lens

Wouldn´t it be amazing to shoot macro photos without expensive macro lens? You say it sounds like a dream?
Read this article and you´ll see that it´s reality!

Hard Life of Economy Student

Last three months it was exam period in my university. It always has bad impact on my life. During that time my social life was very near to death. When friends come to visit us the only social interaction I was "allowed" to do was to say quick "Hello" and then had to go back to learning statistics, management and other quite boring stuff.

My "photo life" was quite similar. I had last proper photoshoot at the beggining of December and since then I have been publishing only photos from this and older photoshoots.

Because of lack of the time I shot some macro photos and have found real interest in it. And you know what is the best? I can use my normal lens to shoot it without spending any extra money on it.

Reverse lens may be solution

If you don´t want to have macro photography as your main photo subject (like me) or don´t have enough money to buy macro lens (like me:) ), shooting with reverse lens is great alternative for you.

The technique works on similar principle as the real macro lenses but it´s harder to work with reverse lens because it doesn´t allow you to work with auto focus and you always have to be very careful about not to scratching your lens and to avoid light leaks.

Great but how to do it?

To change your normal lens on reverse lens is very easy. To do it you´ll need:
  • DSLR camera,
  • lens.
The technique can´t be used on point and shoot cameras because they don´t have changable lenses.

As the name of the technique says - you reverse the lens the opposite way it´s suppose to go. You´ll do following:
  1. Remove the lens from your camera.
  2. Turn the lens the opposite way to the camera.
  3. Hold the lens with your hand the whole time while shooting.
  4. Shoot some amazing macro.

    Cons of the technique

    As you can see it´s very easy to do it. Basically the only thing you need to do it to turn your lens the opposite way. Since it´s not the primar use of the lens there are also some cons of this techniques and things you should be very careful about if you don´t want to scratch your lens. Let me name them.
    1. You won´t be able to use auto focus and it would be better to work with manual exposure settings to have maximum control over the shot.
    2. Be very careful to not to scratch your lens. I recommend to use UV filter to protect it.
    3. Try to use natural light and avoid using internal flash - it would create ugly shadows and overexposed areas.
    4. Lens has to be pressed on the body. There has to be no space between them because otherwise you get overexposed shots.
    If you realize that you want to use reverse lens technique more often you can buy reverse lens adapter to make shooting easier because you won´t have to hold the lens all the time. I´ve found this one on Amazon and it costs only USD 8.
    Adapter helps you to avoid most of the scretch. If you want to have it on your camera permanently don´t forget to protect the opposite side from dust and scratches too!

    Examples of photos taken with macro lens

    On the following pictures you can see the maximum distance I can shoot with normal lens and with reverse lens.

    Post Processing

    Once you have your macros shot shot you may want to edit them in some graphic program. You may want to read following two articles to see some ways how to do it - "Enhance Colors in Your Macro Photos II" and "Enhance Colors in Your Macro Photo" .

    Useful resources on internet

    If you want to know more about reverse lens technique (e.g. how to use two lenses instead of one) you can read following additional articles on other photo related sites.


    The thing about photography equipment I really like is that even if it´s quite pricey with little wit you can get very cheap alternatives. Reverse lens technique may be example of it. Another one can be home made reflector. You can read more about it here - "DIY: Silver Photo Reflector For Only $6".

    As always I really hope that the article help you in some way and would love to see your opinion on both article and described technique in comments below. And it would be even better if you send me photos shoot with this technique.

    Have an amazing Monday!
    - Jarka