So you want to get close-up and personal with your subject. However you haven’t the funds to purchase that macro lens. Well there is hope, and a much cheaper solution to get you closer. I’m talking about the humble reversing ring. Cheap and cheerful and it does a good job if used correctly. What is a reversing ring? Well as the name implies it enables you to mount a lens reversed onto your camera housing. You screw the ring onto the filter thread of your lens and there is a bayonet mount to attach the lens to the camera. You have to order the one that
1. Is the same size thread as your lens, and
2. Is the right type for your make of camera.
While on the subject of lenses. I use an old manual focus lens or an old autofocus lens that has an aperture ring If you haven’t got one all is not lost you can use a G type lens you just haven’t got an idea of what aperture you are using. I have found that a 28mm lens is a good place to start. Although I have used a 50mm without problems. It’s all to do with ratios and the like. Anyway as it’s the picture that is important I won’t go into that side of things so just trust me. The choice of lens will however affect your working distance to your chosen subject.
So how do you work the aperture of your lens? The aperture on your lens is spring loaded so that your aperture will in effect be f22 when mounted and when you look through your viewfinder or at your live view screen you will see a darker image than what you are used to. However by locating the aperture control lever on the lens you can open the aperture manually for composing and focusing your shot. This can be tricky to do, you can tape the lever open or Blu-Tac it. I prefer to hold it open and move the camera into focus. I then close the aperture to the desired value and adjust the manual settings on my camera to match the measured light and bracket my exposures. It’s a bit of a fiddle but you are rewarded for your efforts.
So to sum up the humble reversing ring is a cheap and cheerful introduction to the word of close up photography. You can get good results. The title shot and the orchid below are a couple taken with an old manual focus Sigma 28mm lens from the 80’s.