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DIY: Free or Cheap Macro Lens
What is macro photography?
As macro photography we are talking about reproduction ratio 1:1 (life size) or bigger (2:1 and more). Some cheaper lenses marked as macro have reproduction smaller than lifesize but still good enough for casual photographer. In this article we will show how on budget dive into real macro photography on digital camera world.
As example we will take Nikon D40 which is in our class most common. It have APS-C sensor (23,6x15,7mm) what means that to reach lifesize we must be able to focus to fill 23,6mm long object to width of our view.

We mentioned earlier that you can get decent macro shots (about 1:2,7) with your kit lens Nikon AF-S 18-55/3.5-5.6 G ED II. This we will take as starting point together with Nikon's cheapest high quality prime 50mm 1.8D.

Here is sumary of our test lenses:

Nikon AF-S 18-55 -- 1:2,75
Nikon AF D 50mm -- 1:6,14

Closeup Lens 4 diopter
Simplest option to focus closer is purchase of Close-up lens. They are inexpensive and simple lenses which can be screwed into filter thread of your objective. The test closeup lens 4 diopter we obtained for about 20Eur.

By screwing the lens you instantly can focus closer than before. Mentioned lens gives us following results:

Nikon AF-S 18-55 -- 1:2
Nikon AF D 50mm -- 1:2,71

Reversing of objective
This method is a little weird, but gives outstanding results for almost no price. It is perfect if you want to experiment with macro photography without spending any moneys. With this method you simply mount (through purchased or self made adapter) objective in oposite way than normal (front lens is now closest to sensor). How does it work? By reversing the objective you make magnifying objective out of normal reduction objective.

Here are results of reversed objectives:

Nikon AF-S 18-55 at 18mm -- 1:4,75
Nikon AF-S 18-55 at 55mm -- 1:1,25
Nikon AF D 50mm -- 1:1,27

Nikon D40 with reversed kit 18-55 lens gives over 4 times life size:

What means as close as 5mm to fill width of picture (here school ruller):

and true macro capability (ivy leaf):

Cheapest way to get reverse mount for 52mm objectives is to superglue 52mm/62mm stepup converter (this is sold to allow 62mm filters on 52mm objectives for about 5Eur) on camera cap (this you get with your camera to protect internals when no lens is attached) with removed center.

Photos done by our kids:
Spider which is smaller than 1mm (cropped):

Ant :

Flower with AF 50mm and closeup lens:
Posted on 01 May 2008 by fkh
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• Reviews: Review Nikon Nikkor AI-S 20mm f3.5 Wide angle lens
• Article: DIY: Free or Cheap Macro Lens
• Reviews: Nikon AF-S 18-55/3.5-5.6 G ED II (VR) kit as decent macro lens
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