In through the Out Door

By , February 25, 2014 10:32 am
The super-macro shot looks like the edge of a quarter, but it is actually the edge of a dime.

The super-macro shot looks like the edge of a quarter, but it is actually the edge of a dime.

There’s a fun accessory in the photographic world that has gone out of favor due to the prevalence of zoom lenses that claim to also be macro lenses. I say “claim” because a lens that tries to be a jack of all trades tends to be master of none.

I bought this little accessory for three reasons:

  • I never owned one before
  • It was only $10
  • I have a lens, an AF Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 that I don’t really like or use, that will go with it perfectly.

The accessory is called a reversing ring, and it’s a very simple device. It allows you to put a lens on the camera backwards. The result is super-macro images. It represents one way to get into super-macro photography for very little investment.

On the left is an image made with my AF-Nikkor 60mm macro lens at its closest focus setting; on the right is the same subject shot with the AF Nikkor 28mm on a reversing ring.

On the left is an image made with my AF-Nikkor 60mm macro lens at its closest focus setting; on the right is the same subject shot with the AF Nikkor 28mm on a reversing ring.

While the results can be pretty amazing, this arrangement does have disadvantages…

  • You can’t adjust focus, meaning you are stuck with one magnification, and you focus the image by moving forward and back in very small increments.
  • If you have an older Nikkor lens like my AF 28mm, you can open the aperture for a brighter image to focus, then stop down to shoot, but if you have a new AF-S Nikkor with a “G” in its name, there is no aperture ring, so you are stuck trying to compose and focus at the smallest aperture.
  • The t-number, which combines with f stop to indicate actual light reaching the sensor, is quite low at these high magnifications, which will thus require more light.

Despite the difficulties, the reversing ring is a fun little accessory to have in you bag.

This is the 28mm as it appears mounted on a camera using a reversing ring.

This is the 28mm as it appears mounted on a camera using a reversing ring.

One Response to “In through the Out Door”

  1. Wil C. Fry says:

    I bought a similar device in 2008, called a “macro coupler”, which fit the filter threads of two lenses, to attach them face-to-face — one lens mounted normally, the other one reversed out front.

    Much like your device, it meant no focusing was available, but I did have aperture control over the first lens.

    “…the prevalence of zoom lenses that claim to also be macro lenses…”

    I’ve had a couple of these. Sigma and Tamron are pretty bad about adding the word “macro” to every lens they make that has a short minimum focus distance. Among my friends who shoot macro, 1:1 reproduction ratio is generally considered the threshold for “real macro”; I’ve only ever had one lens that could do that by itself.

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