For those of you that don’t know, a Nifty Fifty lens is a 50mm lens (in either a 1.8 f/stop or 1.4 f/stop) that is a MUST have for those of you with DSLR’s. They are very affordable and deliver sharp images with a shallow depth of field. They take a little getting used to, because it is not a zoom lens, but it is by far my absolute favorite!
Awhile back, my blog friend Meredith wrote an awesome post on how to use the 50mm lens as a macro lens! Awesome, right? More bang for your buck! SO, she is generously sharing that post with us today!
Hi, I’m Meredith from La Buena Vida! I’m a wife to Justin, new mom to Lizzy, Lutheran, native Oregonian, aspiring cook, lover of
books, and a HUGE photography nerd. I fell in love with photography in high school, back when “photography” went hand in hand with being elbow-deep in a sink full of chemicals. Even though photography has changed a lot since then, I still love it, and love continuing to learn and grow 🙂
So today, I want to let you in on a couple of tricks that will CHANGE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY WORLD without breaking the bank in the process! A few months ago, I happened onto an interview that MCP Actions posted on Facebook. In it, one of the photogs being interviewed mentioned that you can take a 50mm lens, turn it around backwards, and use it as a macro lens.
My little fingers flew to Google as fast as possible, and lo and behold, it’s true. There are several different methods/techniques to this madness, and while on the phone with Sprint tech support for several HOURS during Lizzy’s nap, I tried a few.
1- Take your 50mm lens, and switch the side of the lens itself to manual focus.
2- Also set the dial on your camera to M.
3- Now, you know how you’d normally attach the 50mm lens to your camera? Yeah, flip it around so that the portion of the lens that’s normally facing in to your camera is facing out. I know, it’s weird. You’ll have to hold the lens in place as you shoot.
4- Turn on the camera, and adjust your settings. You’ll probably want to adjust your shutter speed to 1/125 or such depending on the light.
5- Now you’ll move your entire body backwards and/or forwards as needed (all while still holding the lens backwards up to your camera body) to make the object that you’re trying to capture come into focus.
6- Take a photo, and adjust settings as necessary.
Note: In my experience, this method tended to produce slightly more blurry/ethereal photos and also tended to produce photos that were much lighter, probably due to the ambient light coming in around the sensor. For example:
The other method that I tried seemed easier to produce sharper images with, but had a few pitfalls of it’s own, which I’ll discuss in a bit.
1- Take a lens other than your 50mm lens (i.e. your kit lens) and attach it to your camera as normal (but do switch over to manual focus if you’re not already there).
2- Take your 50mm lens, turn it backwards as in the first method, but this time hold that backwards lens up to your kit lens rather than to the camera body itself.
3- Proceed as above.
Note: This method resulted in sharper images, but usually a vignette as well. Play around with the focal length of your kit lens and the focus ring of your 50mm lens to discover how to minimize the vignette.
Personally, I think I preferred the second method for the sharper image and also because I feel like it might protect my camera’s sensor a bit more. Plus, if the vignette really bothers you, it’s pretty easy to crop to reduce the effect:
If methods one and two were a little too out there for your comfort level, never fear! Another great option for shooting macro without investing in a macro lens is to purchase some Fotodiox Extension Tubes–last I checked, the version for most Canon dslrs was $11.95 on Amazon. And for less that $15, these babies pack a mean punch in allowing you to shoot macro!
Thank you SO much Meredith! I can’t WAIT to try this!
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