Once I got hooked up on macro photography and bought a 105mm 1:1 macro lens. I really like the lens and it also gives me a decent working distance. However, I started being obsessed with getting closer and closer so I bought extension tubes. They did the job of getting closer but also extended the length of my setup a lot. One day, I learned about reversed lenses mounted on a macro lens and decided to try it out. I mounted my 50mm reversed and it got really close but almost entirely killed the working distance. In order to get a sharp image I need to get so close that it is very difficult to lit the subject properly.

My question is:

What is the best focal length of the reversed lens that will keep a decent working distance?

I already did some experiments and noticed that if I mount 50mm lens on a 105mm macro lens the working distance is very short. However, if I mount a 35mm on the 105mm the distance is longer. Does shorter focal length of the reversed lens mean longer working distance? Finally, all the lenses are mounted on a DX body.


1 Answer 1


I think, whenever you reverse a lens by itself, your working distance becomes tiny - of the order of the flange to film distance, since that is how the optics work out.

Your best bet for getting good magnification AND good working distance is simply to go for longer and longer focal lengths with short extension tubes.

Here are some things you could try re: lighting

  1. If your subject is stationary: Put the camera on a tripod and increase the exposure
  2. Use a ring flash/light
  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess it is the case with reversed lenses after all. The only problem I have with the Flash ring is that I cannot mount it on the reverses lens since the front filter thread is already attached to my macro lens. Any ideas how to mount the ring in the reversed lens. By the way, I'm using the Nikon R-1 macro set. \$\endgroup\$
    – Greg
    Nov 10, 2013 at 1:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, no experience with ring flashes. However, if you have extension tubes, I would suggest 50mm + extension tubes + ring flash \$\endgroup\$ Nov 10, 2013 at 4:52

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