need a macro lens? just flip it. (originally posted 2007-02-12)

if you're ever in quick need of a macro lens, here's a cheap easy way to get one.

first, know that this is not a proper way to use your camera/lens. doing this could result in a damaged camera/lens if you're not careful!

it's simple, just remove your lens, flip it around, and hold the wrong end of your lens against your camera's lens mount. there is obviously risk in scratching/damaging your lens, mirror, and/or shutter, so be careful. if you like this idea and would like something more stable, there are conversion kits made for just this technique.

here's some of my results using my Canon 350D (Rebel XT) and Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens:
(click to enlarge)

original lens at max zoom:

reversed lens at max zoom:

original lens at max zoom:

reversed lens at max zoom:

other tips:
-with most of the weight on the opposite end, holding the reversed lens can be cumbersome. be especially careful while focusing.
-it's a good idea to keep a UV/haze filter on your lens at all times, but especially while trying this. better to scratch a $20-$40 filter than a several hundred dollar lens.
-when you remove a Canon lens it'll return to its max aperture. if you want to stop down, set your aperture like normal, then hold the depth of field preview button while removing the lens. the lens will stay at that f-stop until you reattach the lens. (i don't know what negative consequences might come from this, so be careful. and it's probably not a good idea to leave/store your lens at an altered f-stop for long)
-make sure your lens is parallel to your shutter. if it sits at an angle your image will be partially blurred (similar to a tilt lens).

i discovered this idea here, there's also a lot more information about the technique and equipment.


while doing this there is a large risk of scratching your mirror, sensor, lens, and all sorts of other delicate internal parts of both camera body and lens.

ALSO, the photo sensor inside a DSLR should never be exposed to the open air while the camera is on. And one should avoid leaving any camera DSLR camera body without a lens or body cap for any longer than necessary. a turned-on camera = an electromagnetically charged photo sensor = a dust magnet.


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