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Lens-Reversal Macro Photography

Using extension tubes with reversed lenses


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Lens-Reversal Macro Photography

with Ben Long

Video: Using extension tubes with reversed lenses

I've got my lens reversed, I have set the aperture on in to 5.6 using the Depth of Field Preview button trick that I showed you earlier. Got a new flower here. I'm going to take a picture of it here. I'm at ISO 1600 and this flower is much brighter than the last one I was shooting with. At 1600 and 56, I've got a shutter speed of a 1/60 of a second. And here's what I get. The white of the flower is actually biasing the meter a little bit. I think I can under-expose and actually do a little bit better.

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Lens-Reversal Macro Photography
32m 36s Intermediate Apr 12, 2013

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You don't necessarily need a macro lens to do macro photography. By mounting a prime lens "backward"—with the front elements closest to the imaging sensor—you can turn it into a low-cost macro lens. All you need is an inexpensive adapter called a reversal ring. A sense of adventure helps, too, because your camera's normal metering and focusing features don't work when the lens is attached backward.

In this course, photographer Ben Long details the tools and techniques of lens-reversal macro photography. After investigating reversal ring options, the course explores the focusing and exposure techniques involved when shooting with a reversed lens.

Subjects:
Photography Cameras + Gear
Author:
Ben Long

Using extension tubes with reversed lenses

I've got my lens reversed, I have set the aperture on in to 5.6 using the Depth of Field Preview button trick that I showed you earlier. Got a new flower here. I'm going to take a picture of it here. I'm at ISO 1600 and this flower is much brighter than the last one I was shooting with. At 1600 and 56, I've got a shutter speed of a 1/60 of a second. And here's what I get. The white of the flower is actually biasing the meter a little bit. I think I can under-expose and actually do a little bit better.

So I'm going to dial down to a 1/100 of a second and I get this. That's a nice exposure. This is working very well as a macro lens. What do you do if you want to get closer? If you've watched my macro course, then you heard of something called Extension Tubes. These are not optical elements. There's nothing in here, they are just hollow tubes. This is actually three different tubes that can be broken apart and attached in different combinations, so I don't have to go for full extension here. What these do is decrease the minimum focusing distance of my lens so that I can get the lens closer and still be in focus.

You normally use these with a lens that's attached properly to your camera. There's no reason that you can't use it with your lens reversed, because it's just a normal camera mount, assuming you bought the right the ones, which I have not always necessarily done. So, I'm going to take my reversed lens off. I'm going to put on the extension tubes. They don't go on backwards, they go on normal. And then, the lens attaches to the tubes and I've now got this strange agglomeration of things on the end of my camera. One of the things about extension tube is they cut a lot of light going through the lens and into the camera, so may be that my exposure is going to be pretty different here. Wow! I also let you get much closer.

So what I'm going to do -- right now, the camera is saying proper metering at F5.6 and my aperture has stayed close to F5.6 because I have not at any time in this process re-established that electrical connection that would cause the aperture to open back up. It's saying that my current aperture at ISO 1600 good shutter speed is a 1/15 of a second. I don't trust myself to be able to hold still that long on an unstabilized lens that close. And also, I've been bumping the table, things are moving around.

So the first thing I'm going to do is bump my ISO up to 3200. That will get me from a 1/15 to a 1/30 of a second. But also remember that I don't need to follow proper exposure because that was a little bright. I can actually under-expose by about a stop. So I'm going to follow my meter down to one stop under and it shows me a 1/100 of a second. Let me hold still. This is what I get. So look at the difference here. Here's without the extension tubes and this is with the extension tubes.

These things are -- they vary in price if you buy the third-party ones like these one, these are Kenko extension tubes. I think they're between a $100 and $150 and they bought me a good amount of extra magnification power. If it's too much, I can just take some of the tubes out. So this is a really nice way of getting some extra power on your macro shots when you're working with a reversed lens. They don't take up a lot of space. They are very light and they really don't cost that much money.

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