I recently started playing with reverse macro with my canon 50mm f1.8. A couple things I noticed immediately is:

  • Shallow depth of field
  • No control over aperture
  • difficult to shoot handheld

I believe these are the common problems with this type of shooting

Are there any techniques that I can use to improve/help with Reverse Macro shooting besides buying a Macro lens as they are kind of expensive.

Here is what I've tried so far


ps. I have read Are there macro focusing techniques for handheld shots? but focusing isn't really a problem.

  • \$\begingroup\$ There is a macro FAQ here, which has alternatives: photo.stackexchange.com/tags/macro/info \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeW
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 17:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ When you say 'handheld' - are you using a reversing ring or just freelensing reversed? \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 17:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @rfusca at the moment free lensing reversed but I had more camera shake than lens shake, the lens fit snugly into the camera-lens adapter \$\endgroup\$
    – fluf
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, well try a reverser adapter - big help regardless. \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @rfusca trying to source one :) closest new one is 1400km away \$\endgroup\$
    – fluf
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 19:07

3 Answers 3


I've faced similar problems and also was able to overcome a few of them. A few techniques that has proved to be efficient for me are:

  • Focus changes even if you move a millimeter. I tried so hard to keep my body as stiff as possible but that did NOT work. So, I just let it go. I start by looking at the blur image through the viewfinder, slowly move forward and start shooting as soon as the image looks clearer, keep shooting and moving all the way upto the point the image becomes blurry again. Do NOT move using your whole body/waist, instead try inhaling and exhaling slowly.
  • I always shoot in continuous mode which enables me to increase the chance of getting a better focused shot.
  • IS wont work, nor will aperture control. So, you'll need to set the aperture before detaching the lens. I usually use higher than normal ISO to be able to use a higher shutter speed, thus remove any chance of shake blur.
  • Not sure if you're using a reverse mount ring, if not, get one asap. It helps a lot and you can concentrate on things other than keeping your lens safe from falling.
  • DOF stacking is another technique you can apply. Its true I wasn't able to plan and execute DOF stacking yet, but if you take a lot of pictures of the same subject, chances are you'll find a couple or two which you can use to stack and gain greater DOF.
  • Use of external flash is also very helpful and let you use smaller aperture as well as higher shutter speed while keeping the ISO low. Generally you'd like to use a diffuser along with it. Use this link to get an idea about how to make your own DIY lighting setup for better macro shooting.

I'd consider looking for a lens that has an aperture ring so you can (manually) control the aperture. Since you're mounting it reversed, it doesn't really matter what mount it uses -- just for example, an old manual-focus lens will be fine. At least in the US these are often available quite inexpensively ($10-15 is quite common, but probably half that with some looking).

If you can't afford a tripod, for some macro work a bean bag (or sand bag) can work quite nicely. This trades off some versatility in favor of being small and inexpensive.


A tripod can be useful. Beside normal way you can focus moving your subject then :)

I guess DOF can't be increased since you have no way of changing the aperture

In my experience a dedicated macro lens gives better images (obvious), not much easier to focus without a tripod. Has an aperture that increases DOF.

You can also try stacked lens, which result in rather small aperture and greater DOF. You need a long lens mounted on your camera and a short lens reverse mounted (or just placed) on the first one.


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