I have been trying to use my 18-55 kit lens as a macro but have no idea how to go about it. Do I need an adapter to mount the lens reversed on the camera?

Also, is it possible to use canon 50mm f/1.8 as macro by reversibly mounting it?

Is it possible to reverse any lens to function as a macro lens?


5 Answers 5


If you own both of the two lenses you mentioned, just keep one on the camera, then hold the other (reversed) in front of it (you can tape the two lenses together if you want).
Doing this you'll get extreme magnification; on the other hand, depth of field will be close to none. You'll probably want to avoid getting most of the image black so

  • keep the aperture of the reversed lens wide open blocking the small lever in the mount with a piece of paper or something similar
  • if the on-camera lens is the zoom (which seems to be better, at least in my experience), zoom it to the longest focal.

Switch autofocus off and don't bother with manual focus, you won't need it as moving a millimeter will change what's in focus. As this technique reflects some problems of a huge focal length, it's better to have enough light to use the camera in shutter priority with a short time (e.g. 1/300 s).

You could just reverse ONE lens, buying a reverse ring or making one but not all cameras allow you to shoot w/o a lens on, and/or the meter wouldn't work.

  • there is a lens coupling filter ring that lets you mount a reversed lens on top of a normally mounted lens. It is cheap an better than taping (alignment, etc.).
    – ysap
    Mar 31, 2011 at 16:51

To firmly assemble the two lenses, i used two P series Cokin adaptor rings, so i can put a rubber band around those two rings, and the lenses are assembled temporarly and without a reversing ring :)

  • 1
    The link is no longer valid. Jul 18, 2011 at 16:25
  • @Seth, it works for me but I'm pretty sure linking directly to Flickr images is against the ToS. It's definitely not practical in the long term. Jul 20, 2011 at 13:25
  • @Chris: the OP has fixed the link since I posted my comment. Jul 20, 2011 at 13:47
  • I removed the link. Google is our friend. Jul 21, 2011 at 9:50

@ElendilTheTall has written an excellent article which describes all-you-need-to-know about reverse macro, you should read through his article: http://photo.blogoverflow.com/2011/07/take-macro-shots-like-this-for-less-than-the-cost-of-a-pizza/


Yes, you need a reversing ring to mount any lens backwards. Theoretically any lens can be reversed.

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    But it is only useful if the lens aperture can be set manually, i.e. has an aperture ring. As far as I can see, the 18-55 has no aperture ring (I don't own a Canon) and this may also be true for Canon 50mm f1.8.
    – labnut
    Mar 31, 2011 at 10:16
  • Hey, i didn't say if it was useful or not: he asked if he needed an adaptor to reverse mount his lens, I said yes. In any case, you still have some control over aperture as reversing the lens allows access to the lens' aperture lever. It's not perfect, but you're reversing a lens - it's a jury-rigged macro solution at best. Mar 31, 2011 at 11:45
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    @labnut - saying "it is only useful" is a too strong statement. I had some nice shots with a wide open reversed kit lens. It really depends on your subject.
    – ysap
    Mar 31, 2011 at 16:49
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    18-55 doesnt have aperture ring but you can set an aperture, keep the dof preview button pressed while taking off your lens. this will keep the aperture fixed. normally reverse lens techniques require smaller apertures and wide opens are too shallow and often become almost unusable and very troublesome focusing properly. Apr 17, 2011 at 4:13
  • @Shutterbug, that is a useful tip.
    – labnut
    Apr 17, 2011 at 8:29

If you don't want to reverse the lens, there is something called a macro extension tube. It fits between your camera and the lens and lets you use a non-macro lens for macro photography. Very useful for photographers on a budget. More expensive ones have electronics built in that let you change the aperture size.

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