How to convert a 50mm standard lens into a high quality 100mm macro lens for just £5!
To convert a 50mm standard lens into a 100mm macro lens, all you need to do is turn it around. The lens is kept in place using an adapter ring that has the same size filter thread of the lens and the same lens mount as the camera. Once locked into place, the lens is macro but you only have manual focus.
Video instructions on making a cheap macro lens for Canon cameras
Comparing a Standard Lens with Macro Conversion
Check out the two images below. The first was taken with the Canon EF50mm 1.4 at its closest shooting distance. The second was shot using the converter ring making this into a 100mm macro lens.
Process for converting a standard lens for macro lens photography
Below is a simple breakdown of the steps needed to turn your 50mm lens into a superb 100mm macro lens. This generally works best with fixed focal length lenses of 50mm. I have tried converting my 105mm macro lens this way and it does not work.
- 1Check your lens and make a note of both the filter thread size (i.e. 48mm, 58mm, 72mm, 82mm) and the lens mount (i.e. Canon EF/EFs, Sony A/E mount, Nikon F mount, Olympus OM mount etc.
- 2Buy the appropriate lens macro reverse ring from Amazon. Double check before buying. Filter thread size and lens mount.
- 3With your current 50mm lens still on the camera, set the exposure dial to aperture priority and lock in f8 (for example).
- 4Find the depth of field preview button on your camera and press it. You should notice the aperture close on your lens. Whilst pushing the button down, release the lens at the same time. The aperture should remain closed at f8.
- 5Now take the lens off your camera and attach the adapter to the front filter thread.
- 6Turn the lens around and now re-attach it to your camera using the mount on your new adapter.
How to use a macro lens with manual focus
As discussed in the video, unless you convert a manual lens, most modern autofocus lenses will become manual focus only using this method.
Therefore, it is best to use a tripod for macro photography. You can then either move the camera closer to your subject or bring the subject nearer to the camera. For some of my images I even hand held with good results.
I.e., the cropped image below was held held as I focused on the Philips screw by moving slowly in and out until I hit focus on the part I wanted. I had my elbows on the desk to steady myself and squeezed the shutter slowly once locked. Alternatively, use a tripod. Click for a larger copy.
Macro lens vs telephoto
My Sigma 105mm macro lens is also a short range telephoto lens. With its f2.8 aperture, it is superb for shooting portraits as well as macro photography. When you convert your 50mm lens into a macro lens, it always remains a 50mm standard lens. Even when reversed.
However, when you do convert your Canon EF50mm lens into a macro lens, the field of view magically becomes the same as a 100/105mm macro lens.
Check out the two sample images below for example. The image on the left (or first image when viewing on a mobile) was taken with the Canon EF50mm 1.4 lens. The image on the right (or second image on a mobile) was taken with the Sigma 105mm macro lens for Canon.
Uses for a macro lens
So when and why would you use a macro lens? The obvious answer is to get super close-up photos of any object such as insects. As I said before, the Sigma 105mm lens is also good for short telephoto photography such as portraits. The Canon 50mm "converted" macro lens however, is only good for macro.
I love shooting anything at a macro level whether that is photography or video. I also plan to upload a lot more as stock photo and video to sell.
You can incorporate macro photography and video into commercial work to add a different perspective to whatever you are shooting. For example, product photography of an expensive watch would be enhanced with some superb macro images of the internal workings. Again, either photography or video.
Start practising and start playing.
Lighting for macro photography
Natural light is always best for any photography or video projects in my opinion. But, because you are closing the aperture down semi-permanently, you won't always get a bright image from which to focus correctly.
For the images seen in the video above, I used either my Aputure 120d studio light or my smaller, bright, hand-held Liber Pocket Light. I also found that using a speedlight (Canon 580 EXII) worked really well. With the flash, I tried both manual (direct and bounced) flash when I needed more power and bounced flash set to E-TTL at other times.
It's all about experimenting and testing different ways to light macro images.
I hope you found this page and video useful, and even exciting. I think this opens up a new style of photography for those that don't yet have the budget for additional lenses. After all, £5-10 for this conversion is a steal!
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