I need your opinions on stacked lenses setup for extreme macro photography.

I own a Nikon D5600. I bought a Nikon AF-S 40mm f1.8G Micro lens together with the body. Then, Nikon, as a part promotion for purchasing a new body, sent me a brand new 70-300mm DX VR zoom lens. It's this lens here.

I've seen some people doing extreme macro using stacked lenses, usually a lens with long focal length as the primary lens (attached to the body) and a reversed lens mounted to the primary lens using a coupler ring. They are able to go beyond 1:1.

I would like to do that too, since I have a very long zoom lens. My setup would be the 70-300 as the primary lens, and a Nikon 50mm f1.8D as the reversed lens.

However, I have a quite a few questions that I would like some answers or opinions before I purchase the 50mm.

  1. What will be the minimum working distance ? I would like to shoot insects too (My 40mm macro lens is too short for shooting insects.).

  2. What to expect from the image quality in terms of sharpness, chromatic aberration, distortion etc ? Will the resulting image quality be on par with my 40mm macro lens ? I've read reviews online for both the 70-300mm and the 50mm. The 50mm is tack sharp and the 70-300mm is quite good.

  3. The 50mm will be mounted to the 70-300mm using a 58mm to 52mm coupler ring (The 70-300mm has a 58mm filter size while the 50mm has a filter size of 52mm). Will there be vignetting due to the smaller filter size of the 50mm ?

  4. The math behind the magnification is the focal length of the primary lens divided by the focal length of the reversed lens. In my case, the maximum magnification would be 6x (300/50). However, the 50mm is a full frame lens. Normally, it would be a 75mm (1.5x crop factor) when mounted directly to the body. However, in this situation, it will be mounted in reverse, far far away from the sensor. So, will it act as a 50mm or a 75mm ?

  5. I read somewhere that infinity focus out of the question with stacked lenses. Is it true ?

If there's anything that I'm not aware of, please let me know. Phew...that's a very long one. I hope that you guys will help me with those questions.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ This site really works best with individual questions as individual questions. You'll get better, faster results, and other site members will be able to upvote and downvote answers based on their total information. For example, I can answer #4 off the top of my head without knowing anything about stacked lenses, but most of the rest is outside of my experience. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Sep 16, 2018 at 15:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I highly encourage you edit this down to just your primary question, and ask the others separately. As this is a Q&A site and not a forum, there are no rules against having a bunch of open questions all at the same time. Feel free to link between the questions if that makes them make more sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Sep 16, 2018 at 15:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I upvoted because of the effort you put into making the question and I think this has a ton of value to future shooters. That being said, I agree with mattdm - it would be more valuable and in line with this site if you split the questions and link to them from one another. This auto pops the "related questions" column to the right and helps future answer seekers find relevant info. \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Sep 16, 2018 at 17:15
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Too many questions here. What have you tried so far? \$\endgroup\$
    – roetnig
    Sep 16, 2018 at 19:06
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ See also: shutterstoppers.com/secrets-macro-photography-reverse-lens (On SE we tend to assume/hope you've done basic/google research before asking). \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Sep 16, 2018 at 19:15

1 Answer 1


Take a look at this:

What kind of lens to photograph a 1 mm object?

In terms of the ratio you will get, I am posting @scottbb comment:

A reversed 20mm mounted on a 200mm telephoto mounted on the camera will yield 10:1

So with a 300mm lens and a 50mm one you get:

300/50 = 6:1 magnification.

In terms of sharpness, light, and DOF take a look at my post.

Please be careful so you do not bend your telephoto. Only use it a vertical position.

So, will it act as a 50mm or a 75mm

A 50 lens is a 50 mm lens. It does not matter if you have a camera at all.

What will be the minimum working distance?

It is veeeeeery narrow. It is really hard to focus, and you need plenty of light Take a look at my other post for practical issues.

infinity focus out of the question with stacked lenses

You can not change the focus distance... It is "fixed" (you can play a bit). But you need to understand the logic of a reverse lens.

A lens is made to focus on the camera sensor's plane. That is the focus distance behind the lens.

When you reverse it... guess what is the focus distance from the object? A similar one to the focus plane.

enter image description here

  • \$\begingroup\$ Crazy idea.... could one light the object THROUGH the lens, if one was willing to tinker directed lights into adapters and live with some flares? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2020 at 19:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.