Using Reverse Rings for Macro Photography

I’ve been playing around with a ProMaster Reverse Ring. Once I got past the apprehension of being hunched over on the side of the road, two inches from a flower, it was a lot of fun!

If you haven’t used them before, a lens reverse ring is a handy, economical accessory that turns your existing lens into a great macro lens for extreme close-up photography. In my case,  I took a Canon T3i DSLR Camera, an old manual Pentax 50mm 1.4 lens and combined them using a PromasterCanon EOS 52mm Reverse Ring:

As the name suggests, these rings allow you to ‘reverse’ the optics of your lens. They have a standard filter thread on one side and a lens mount thread on the other. All you need to do is match the filter thread with the reverse ring size and get a ring that is compatible with your camera. Currently, promaster makes reverse rings for Sony, Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras.

The wider the lens, the more magnification that you will get. A 50mm lens will translate roughly to a 1:1 magnification ratio and a 20mm will offer a 4:1. So, the 18-55 lens that comes standard with many DSLR kits will give you a great introduction to macro!

Here’s a basic diagram of what is happening optically:




The depth of field is razor thin, so I also took along a ProMaster 7000 Compact TableTop Tripod to get up close  and to have a bit more control for some road-side shrubbery photos:



However, it’s possible to just shoot free-hand, which I did for some bee photos and standing almost uncomfrotably close to a friend’s eye:


Some Considerations:

1. Aperture: When using reverse rings you lose aperture control as the lens and camera can not ‘talk’ because it is flipped. If you have a manual lens with an aperture ring, you can control aperture this way and then the shutter speed in-camera. Or, set your camera on aperture priority and the camera will set Shutter Speed and you can control aperture on the lens. If you are using a lens without an aperture ring, you’ll have less control over aperture, but it will still work.

2. Avoid using ‘Macro’ Mode: This would seem like the obvious setting, however, your camera will get confused by the lower level of light coming into the lens and try to compensate by activating the flash.

3. Depth of Field: The usual trade-off between depth of field and metering is still at play: as you stop down, you’ll find that your depth of field is really shallow! For Macro photography, this is not necessarily a draw-back as you often want to highlight your subject on blurry background.

4. Filters: With the back of the lens exposed, you won’t be able to screw on your filter to protect the inner workings of the lens from dust. The absence of a filter also allows for more light to enter the lens, which is helpful given that the ‘front’ of the lens will be smaller.

Happy Shooting!

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