Before the rush

Before the rush
by evan-pak

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So, this blog (credit to mattdm for pointing it out) says:

Firstly, when you turn the lens around you obviously lose the CPU connection between the lens and the camera, so say goodbye to autofocus, metering (in most cases) and aperture control (though I’ll come back to that)


The advantage of this old lens is that it has a manual aperture ring, which neatly neutralises the loss of automatic control mentioned above.

So, since G lenses don't have an aperture ring, aperture can't be controlled anyhow if we reverse the lens?

Secondly, is it practical that we set the metering and the aperture (manually) before taking the lens out and reversing it?

Is there any other way to get around this problem in G lenses (assuming that the camera bodies have the manual focus, aperture, metering controls)?

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If you read further through the blog, you will see a tip: simply actuate the aperture lever on your lens and hold it in place with a piece of poster tack. Generally this is easiest when you are holding the aperture wide open, but you can theoretically set it anywhere (though you won't know exactly what aperture you're using). It does work - I wrote the blog! :) – ElendilTheTall Feb 18 '12 at 15:39
@ElendilTheTall Wow, so you wrote that blog?? Great! Anyway, I saw some statement like that there but I couldn't understand exactly what it meant or is t even "practical"! – TheIndependentAquarius Feb 18 '12 at 15:50
It's very possible and gives good results. The wasp photo at the top of the blog post was taken with a Nikon kit 18-55mm lens with a blob of tack on the aperture lever, just as the blog describes. – ElendilTheTall Feb 18 '12 at 15:53
up vote 2 down vote accepted

With some non-G lenses, there is a switch on the lens that will release the aperture ring so that you can manually control it, even off camera or reversed, to set the aperture to whatever value you want (but as you close down the aperture, the viewfinder will get dimmer).

With G lenses, there is no aperture ring. There is a mechanical lever though, which closes down the aperture. You can slide that lever and the aperture will close. As the blog points out, you can fix that lever in place with tape or poster tack.

When you reverse the lens, the aperture will close to its smallest opening (f/22 or whatever). Moving that lever can open it back up to the widest aperture, or somewhere inbetween (although very hard to control exactly)

The camera body will not know what aperture is set since it will not have any electrical contact (and will wonder where that lever went!). So best to set exposure to manual and set an appropriate shutter speed. You won't need to set an aperture since the camera can't control it anyway.

There isn't really any point in setting the metering before reversing for a number of reasons:

  • metering will assume an aperture, but once reversed you will be setting (potentially) a different aperture using that lever

  • you are unlikely to get the same amount of light through the lens when reversed, depending on the size of the two ends of the lens - most surely there will be less light transmitted when reversed.

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It's not just best to set the camera to Manual, it's usually essential - most cameras refuse to take a photo without a lens attached in any other mode than manual. – ElendilTheTall Feb 18 '12 at 15:40

Get a set of cheap screw Nikon G extension tubes from eBay. The part with the lens mount can be unscrewed from the rest of the tubes and mounted to the lens. This allows you to easily control the aperture, plus should provide a male filter thread that you can screw filters onto. (The set I purchased has a rather unusual 57 mm thread, and while it looks like the standard filter pitch I haven't got any 57 mm filters to test with).

Another alternative would be a Canon EF - Nikon G mount adapter (meant for mounting Nikon G lenses on Canon EF mount cameras).

Both solutions allow you to set the aperture using the adapter. Note that no f-stops are marked on the adapters, and it will vary between lenses. If you only plan to use the adapter with a single lens you could run some tests and mark the f-stops on the adapter yourself.

Also note that with a weather sealed lens you may need to remove the rubber ring from the rear of the lens to mount an adapter.

Image of Nikon G extension tube and Nikon G to Canon EF adapters to allow controlling the aperture on a reversed Nikon G lens

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