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How to Make Your Own Macro Lens - For DSLR Cameras

written by: Balachandar Radhakrishnan•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/20/2011

Making life size pictures of hardly noticeable objects and subjects is known as macro photography. It's widely employed in wildlife photography and in product photography. Oftentimes, macro photography requires the use of costly lenses. Read on to learn how to easily make your own macro lens.

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    Welcome to the World of Macro photography

    So, you want to try out macro photography but you've noticed that the cheapest macro lens available would cost at least 300 bucks! Yes, macro photography involves photographing subjects that are really small, so a camera lens that is capable of doing such a feat doesn't come cheap. But then, macro photography is one of those things that every photography enthusiast has to try at some point in their life. In fact, several photographers who do try it become completely addicted to it! There is just something about making a huge print out of something that your eye can barely notice.

    lily macro I hope I got your attention now! So let's see how to get your first taste of macro photography using equipment that you already have or can easily find and, most importantly, is cheap! Before we start, there are few points that your need to remember in macro photography.

    1. You need to get close to your object of interest, and I mean really close!

    2. Plenty of light is always good.

    3. Steady hands or a tripod is a must (I would highly recommend a tripod).

    Image : Tanakawho

    Of course there are some additional points that you need to remember to really make your macro photographs stand out. Let's consider this a primer to get you started on that path.

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    What You Need to Make a Macro Lens

    The following DIY photography project is for already own a DSLR camera, who have more than one lens and one that is capable of at least 50mm focal length.

    What You Need to Make Your Own Macro Lens:

    1. Any Digital SLR camera

    2. Two lenses ( ideally an 18-55 mm & a 50mm would suffice - or at least one of the lenses should be capable of a focal length above 50mm for a good macro)

    3. Good lighting

    4. Remote shutter release - preferred but not necessary!

    5. Tripod - ideally a small table top version.

    6. Tape - to put the lenses together

    Remove any filters or polarisers you might have on the lenses.

    macro setup 

    Image : Distillate

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    Simple Steps to Make Your Macro Lens

    1. Fix the lens that is capable of a focal length of 50mm (or higher) on your DSLR body.

    2. The second lens has to be inverted. In other words, the front of the second lens needs to face the front of the first attached lens.

    3. Now using tape, affix the lenses together. A standard cellophane tape would do, but you can use any tape that can be easily removed and still doesn't leave any marks on the lenses.

    4. Switch the camera to manual focus and try to focus on an object by getting in real close. Once you have a clear focus, click and you have your macro shot.

    5. If you prefer to shoot on auto mode, then see to it that the first lens has a lens hood, which can be used to fix the second lens onto. This is done to avoid damage to the first lens when used in autofocus mode, since auto focussing usually involves movement of the front lens element (which, in our case, would be fixed with the second).Yet another way is handheld shooting

    dslrm1  Yes! The second lens can be held in your hand and you can still come away with a very decent macro photo. Although this needs practice as slight movement or low light situations might cause the picture to be out of focus. Now this might not be a permanent solution to your macro needs, but it can give a taste of macro photography on the cheap and help you see if it's worth investing in a dedicated macro lens.

    Image: maldiviandude

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    Taking It To The Next Level

    So you think you would love to try some more? Sure! The above mentioned DIY project involves equipment that you might already have - cost involved: NONE! However, if you are willing to spend a little bit more then I would recommend buying a reverse ring, which should only cost no more than $15.

    reverse ring  A reverse ring will let you fix the second lens on the first one by serving as an adapter. There is also no fear that your lens might fall off like when you use tape. But it doesn't end there, using a reverse ring you can also rig up some heavy zoom lenses that might be lying around (from your film days) to get some really fantastic macro shots. As they say, "seeing is believing"!D3 macro 

    Image: Gcardinal