DIY Photography: Lens Attachments, Filters & Creative Effects

Lesson 13/23 - Build & Shoot: Reversible 50mm Lens Mount


DIY Photography: Lens Attachments, Filters & Creative Effects


Lesson Info

Build & Shoot: Reversible 50mm Lens Mount

- [Mike] Here on the screen, this is a photograph of a bee and I photographed this at my house using the equipment that I'm going to be showing you today. So this bee is on a yellow flower. To get this shot, I actually don't remember if this was my toilet paper extension tube or if this was my PVC pipe extension tube. It doesn't matter. Both of them will work well. Look at the light on the eye of that bee. The light is fantastic. Look at the detail and the clarity in the eyeball. You can see each of the individual lenses in the eye. The antenna is clear and it's amaz... I got to be honest with you. You know, I'm putting this stuff together, I'm the instructor and I should expect great results, right? Well, I was just astounded. I got that photograph and I went to my son and my daughter and my wife and I'm like, "Oh, look at this, look at this." And they're like, "Yeah, that's nice, dad." And I'm like, "No, I took it. Look what I did. I did that, you know." And that's really the fun par...

t of this, is what still gets me excited, you know. I created this little inexpensive product to use with my lenses and my cameras and I'm able to produce a photo that looks like that. So throughout this afternoon, I'm going to show you a lot of the same exact tools. Let's go to the next one. This one here is a macro photograph of an iris. Nice...not an iris. Is that...? No that's a, what did you say? - [Woman 1] Orchid? - Yeah, an orchid. That's the right term, an orchid. Literally took this on my kitchen table and just using the lighting equipment that I'm going to show you later today, got a whole field macro lighting kit using, like, plastic turkey lunch meat boxes and paper and tissue papers and tape as well as some stuff I bought at my local hardware store. So you'll be able to produce nice looking field macro photography stuff just like that. The last one here that I have is a fisheye lens photograph using literally a $7 peephole and a pinhole, a lens cup like I showed you before. I took that in Gig Harbor on a nice sunny day about, I don't know, I'm guessing it was a week and a half ago, maybe two weeks ago using the equipment that I have right here on the table. It's not the sharpest photo but again, that's not the intent. My intent wasn't to necessarily go out and buy a $1,200 fisheye lens, my intent was to see what can I do for an inexpensive amount of money, a low amount of money and still come up with something very creative. So this is actually a panorama of fisheye photos. And so using Lightroom to merge that together, I was able to kind of create this neat effect all for the low low price of about $7-10. So, that's where we're headed, that's what you can expect to do on your own out in the field. Here in the studio, you can create some other cool shots today. The first thing I want to show you for this segment is how to use a 50-millimeter lens as a macro lens. So, most folks know that you can go out and you can buy a macro lens. You can buy them from your camera store and you're going to spend anywhere from, let's just say, $300 up to a couple thousand dollars for a high-end macro lens. The advantages of buying a dedicated macro lens is you're able to focus close and you're also able to focus far away. So can work like whatever called a normal lens. You know, you can photograph, I don't know, your daughter outside, you can photograph your dog, but macro lenses also allows you to get really close to the subject. There are a lot of ways to hack a macro lens. In other words, hack your existing lens and turn them into macro lenses. And that's really what these next few things are to show you. So, I'm going to walk over this way and just show you what I've done. I went to the local second-hand store and I bought this camera, okay? So this camera, I literally bought for 10 bucks. Actually, it was $9.99. I love shopping at the local second-hand store. I'm like, "Wow, there's an old Pentax film camera. In fact, it even works." All right. So this old film camera, right? So I'm like, "This is pretty cool. What can I do with it?" Well, it came with a lens. This lens is a 50-millimeter prime lens and it's actually almost identical to the other 50-millimeter lens I've been using all day in the class. You could use this lens to do that bokeh shapes that we did earlier on, you can use it for just a nice little portrait lens, whatever. Well, one of the easiest ways to get a macro lens is to take that lens and not shoot the normal way through it but to reverse it and shoot through the back side of the lens. This is cool. And you can use any lens for this. It doesn't have to be a Nikon lens for a Nikon camera. In this case, it's just a Pentax lens. I literally bought for $9.99 and now I need to mount that to my camera body. So how do you mount it? Well, the solution is this right here. I'm going to set it here on the table so the video camera can see it. This is what's called the reversing mount. It's a lens reversing mount. And so this side, screws on to the lens and it'll screw on just like that and then the other side mounts to the camera. So that's pretty cool. So let me show you how that fits. Now, this reversing lens is actually a 52-millimeter diameter and that would fit for my other 50-millimeter lens. It actually fits for that. This little Pentax lens is a different diameter, so it doesn't screw on there, right? It doesn't screw on. So what I have to do is find another way to mount it. Well, this is a good tip for you all. These are step-up rings and step-down rings and you can find these on eBay and Amazon. They are very inexpensive. This company that I got them from is called Fotodiox or Fotodiox, something along those lines. This set of, I'm going to say, what is that, seven or eight rings, they're each different diameters and they're designed to basically go from one diameter to the next diameter. So you could use this, like, you could buy one set of big filters, right, and then you could use those big filters on any of your smaller lenses by use of these reversing rings. Very inexpensive. I'm going to say 15 bucks, something like that, 15, 20 bucks. All right. So I've got a reversing ring here. I'm going to screw that... I'm sorry, a step up ring here. I'm going to screw it on to my reverse mount like that. Cool. Now, I screw that onto my lens. Are my angles okay you all? Hopefully, you can see that. Get my threads correct. Little bit fiddly here, sorry. The filter threads on this old lens I think might be munged up a bit. Okay, there we go. I got it. Got it. Okay, cool. Now, I'll bring this over to my camera and the way this is going to work, it's going to mount on the camera backwards and now I'll be able to shoot some macro work. And to do that, I'm going to bring the system over to some flowers that I have over here on this white backdrop. And I think what I'll do for this is I'll actually do live view so you guys can see in real time what this looks like. We repaired the cables that break so they'll no longer fall off on us which is good. Okay, pull this over here. And before I start taking pictures, let me just show you how this mounts. So I just look for the little red dot here and I align that to the dot on the camera and mount it backwards. Isn't that cool? So it's a lens that's mounted backwards. Now, the downside of this is the range, your working distance range is very limited. This will no longer focus any more than a few inches in front of the camera. You're just kind of limited to this range right here. So you can't use this for any other purpose when it's mounted in reverse. I'll throw this rose vase right here in. I'm going to turn on live view now. There we go, live view. Okay, cool. Is that coming through? Yeah, it is. Right on. So some things to think about. First thing is I have to set the aperture manually. So let's see. I think this camera can probably get it. I have to actually physically set the aperture on the lens because the camera no longer has like the auto aperture control, right? So you can't shoot aperture priority or program mode or any of those things anymore. You just have to really be in full on manual exposure mode. All right, so let's do that. So this a little bit dicey here. You're setting your aperture, you're setting your shutter speed and you're just kind of getting everything to blend together to get about the right exposure. Let me get this in here closer so that it's not blurry, so everyone can see what we're doing and we have these peonies. Is that the right term? It's important that my naming conventions are correct. All right, so how close do I have to be? I might even have to be a little bit closer. You see I'm having to move things forward and back until it's just right. And that's one of the down sides of doing it this way is you're really limited in working distance. Your working distance kind of has to be fixed. I'm going to move that. Okay, there we go. Tilt it forward. I need another hand. Anyone have a third hand. All right, good. Okay, cool. So now you can see I'm doing macro work and I'll take some photos here in just a second with my other camera. So and I'll just basically handhold. So you can see that this is a rose. The rose is about one inch across or so and you can see that that one-inch rose fills about, I don't know, a little more than half of the sensor. So right now, this is about a 1:2 magnification and that's pretty good for a $10 lens. Focus though, the focus range, as I change the focus ring, that's what I'm doing right now. I'm focusing the focus ring. Do you notice, it's not really changing anything in the final image? You're just basically limited to a certain distance. I'm at f/8-ish. It looks like I'm about f/8. Yeah, there's f/8. And then my shutter speed, you can see at the bottom of the live view, my shutter speed is at 640th of a second. My ISO is cranked way up just so we can get a live view shot. Normally, my ISO would be down much lower, maybe like 400 or 200, something like that. Okay, well let's actually take some photos with this setup. So I'll switch cameras and I'll go back to this other one which is connected to Lightroom and we'll snap some imagery. It's pretty cool, 10 bucks, really inexpensive way to snap or to get your shots. Okay. And again, just want to point this out, that if you buy a lens, let's say you have an old lens from an old camera setup, it has to have... oops, wrong way, it has to have the manual aperture control, right? Because if it doesn't, like, if you have, let's say, like, a newer lens that don't have the aperture control rings on them, you can't control the aperture. In other words, it'll always be stopped down to f/22. And so make sure the lens you buy is like an old timey manual adjustment for the aperture. I don't know if the camera can see it but I'm changing the aperture there. All right, come in and grab some shots. I need another six inches. Okay, I'm going to take a test shot and make sure that all comes in. And now, I can just do everything right from here. So I'm currently at ISO 800 and I'm at an eighth of a second which is a little bit long, so I'm going to increase my ISO. If I was on a tripod, I wouldn't have any issue with that. There we go. Oh yeah, more better. Okay, I think those are coming through. They are. Let me go full screen on them. That's like, that's all, you'd do with that all day. That is just gorgeous. Gorgeous. Really fantastic. $10 macro plus a little ring and all that. So I say all in cost is like close to 20 bucks and I know all of you, everyone has an uncle who has an old film camera and if you're the photographer, I get calls like this literally every week. "Hey Mike, I have an old XYZ film camera from 1975. Is it worth anything? I'd like to sell it." Well, they're typically worth 10 bucks, 20 bucks, 30 bucks and so I say, "No, just find some way to repurpose those lenses or give the lenses to me and I'll play with them and do some macro work." So that's pretty cool. Very inexpensive, reversing ring macro photography and you can use any of your old lenses to do that. Cool. So that's our first deal for the day. Any questions? Or questions coming in regarding this? - [Woman 2] We have one over here. - [Woman 3] How do you adjust the aperture on those lenses manually? - All right, great question. Let me... I'll come into another camera. I'll just get in close here so we can see this. I'll show it like this. So, you can see here on the screen, this old lens has an old aperture control this way and so there's a f/22 and there is a f/28 and then if I turn this around, I'll show into the camera. We can see into the aperture. We can see the aperture stopping down and opening up. If you don't have a lens like this, in fact, let me grab another one of my lenses and show you one that doesn't have the aperture control. I'll grab this lens which is a, this one is a kit lens. So this is like a newer Nikon kit lens and you'll see down here on the back there's no way to control the aperture. And the way that the aperture is controlled with the camera is through this little tab. So I suppose if you're good you could actually move that tab, and I'll turn it like that. There we go. We can kind of see it. You could move that tab up and down to do it. So it is possible but it's spring loaded and as soon as you let go, it goes back. And it's not always fixed in the same aperture. Like, if you go halfway, that's about f/8 but, you know, what's half-ish? So, does that make sense? Did I answer your question? All right, cool. Yeah, and you can... What I just did there with that reversing ring, that will literally work with just about any lens that you have. But my experience is that it works better with the old style manual aperture control. Yeah, Kenna. - [Kenna] Great. We did have a couple of questions. First of all, Tesus, shout out too says, "This is the coolest thing that I have learned all week." The lens reversing mount topic. So, awesome. good job. The other question from E. Alexander Gastor is, "Will the reversing macro work on zoom lenses?" - Yes, it will. In fact, I've tried it out on zoom lenses. I have an old manual zoom lens over there. It's an old Nikon. I bought it with my FM10 old film camera. It's a 35-70 zoom lens and I was working with it and it just, it gets more difficult because you're like, you started at 70, you did the reversing lens thing, then you change your aperture and it goes out of focus so then you zoom back to... It's just a little more clunky, I guess, is what I'm trying to say but it will work just fine. You just have to get the right combination of zoom or focal length and focusing and then distance from the camera but the answer is yeah.

Class Description

You don’t need to buy every lens or filter for your camera in order to create impactful images. Mike Hagen is back with his DIY series to explore the hacks you can take to play with different looks when shooting. He’ll explore ways to create tilt shifts, bokeh backgrounds, lightboxes for macro field work, and star filters. 

  • You’ll learn how to make: 
  • Soft filters for photographing portraits or flowers 
  • Neutral density filters for long exposures 
  • Different fine art backgrounds like bokeh, haze and tilt-shift 
  • An inexpensive macro lens and macro diffuser 
Capture different looks by using items you can find around your house or at the local hardware store. Mike Hagen will have you expanding your camera bag and your portfolio so you can spend more time being creative and less time spending money. 



Love it!! Very creative and full of inspiration. Mike Hagen explains the different effects in a great way, he is precise yet easy-going so he makes learning fun. I recommend this class to all who wants to take their creative photography to the next level without spending money on expensive accessories.


Mike has an easy-going, pleasant & fun personality. He explains things clearly. Rolls with whatever happens. And, he's very good about answering audience questions in an understandable, positively reinforcing and non-judgemental way (which can be rare for some established pro photographers...).

Kelly Youngblood

I am so glad that I stumbled upon this website. It has me excited to keep going further in my photography abilities. I can't wait to be able to watch more classes. Thank you so much for this, I am going to stay up all night checking out how to do this way of shooting different ways. DYI I love this lesson.