How To: Make an Impromptu Macro Lens

I have a long wish list when it comes to cool photography equipment but at the top of my list is a really good macro lens.  The only problem is I don't have a grand to drop on a lens and, even if I did, I don't use it often enough to justify such a purchase.  I love macro photography, though.  I love seeing the tiniest little details that create the "big picture" object.  So being the resourceful girl that I am (or try to be...) I figured out a way to make an impromptu macro lens.  Basically, you just flip your regular lens backwards.

Sounds weird, right?  It's actually quite simple.  A few tips - this technique tends to work better with prime lenses but you could try it with a zoom if you don't have a prime.  Also, I've found that it's better to try this when shooting a still subject.  I've tried with bugs and flowers outdoors but the camera is just so close to the subject that every little movement is captured.  For the flower examples below, I shot indoors and away from any drafts.

To make an impromptu macro, hold your prime lens backwards against the camera body.  Be gentle so as not to scratch the lens.  Since the lens is not actually attached, you can't focus the way you normally would.  Instead, you have to move either closer to or farther from the subject very slowly until the area you want is in focus.

Here's what I mean by flipping the lens backwards:

The red dot (or white spot for some) is what you would normally line up on the camera body to lock the lens into place.

And here are some examples of shots I've taken using this technique:

Sprinkles on a sugar cookie
  Carnation (edited to add film grain)
 Molly's chew toy

White rose

See?  It's pretty easy, no?  Just handle your lens carefully and you can get some great super-close-up shots!


  1. Wow, I have to try this! Although I am a bit nervous to flip my lense around..


  2. so glad you did this and explained the magic behind that rose shot:) I can't wait to try it out this weekend!! This is the best 'how to' i've seen in blogland for a while:D

  3. I was just thinking today while I was out with my camera that a macro lens would be handy but I'm with you, the price would outweigh the use. This is a great idea! I'm definitely going to try it out. I don't imagine my photos will be as good as yours though - the yellow carnation is gorgeous.

  4. I've always wanted to try this but was too scared, and I also didn't really know how! Thanks for this - I didn't realize you just held the lens agains the camera... definitely going to try it now!

  5. saaaaweeet! I'm gonna have to try this out, great pics & thanks for sharing the tip!

  6. Seriously ?! I love this, thanks for sharing I'm definitely going to have to try it out!

  7. wow! The result is amazing. Lovely pics! Will have to give this a try!

  8. lovely pics !


  9. Great tip, Stephanie! Though I'm scared I'll scratch my lens. I definitely want to try this!!


  10. OH wow! I'm scared to scratch my lens! But..will it work with any sized lens? And your 50 mm lens is that a 1.4 or 1.8?

    Thanks for this tip.. I want to try it now for sure! OH LA LA! CAN'T WAIT!

    Janette, the Jongleur

  11. That is awesome...I'm pretty sure I am a photography DUNCE. I didn't even know what the macro setting on my camera was for! Pathetic. I'm glad you stopped by my blog so I could find yours!

  12. Uh wow! You're talented! Seriously! Plus, you make me wish I had a better camera than the one in my phone!


  13. Oh my goodness, your blog is so gorgeous. You are an amazing photographer lady! To answer your comment on my blog, I start UVA Law this fall. I took a year off after graduating college. I'm happy to see you can go to law school and still keep up with a passion for photography! Your blog is an inspiration~I'm your newest follower :)

  14. tes photos sont magnifiques....

  15. Gorgeous pictures! You are very talented.


  16. Love these awesome macro-shots! I love taking close ups too even with my crappy digital camera. One day, I dream of having an slr.

    p.s. my favourite is molly'w chew toy.

  17. I just came across this blog and I am so glad that I did. Thank you so much for sharing.
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