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3 Ways for Macro photography without a macro lens

Let’s admit it, of the initial things that fascinate most of us after getting a DSLR is that pretty background blur. A lot of photography enthusiasts start off with macro shots of the items around them. If you own a camera that came with the standard kit lens and are struggling to make beautiful macro photographs, I’ve got a few tricks that are guaranteed to help you up your macro game!

Personally, I use multiple ways to achieve macro results using a kit lens. To begin with, the most basic trick is to use the lens at its maximum focal length; generally 55mm if you’re using an APS-C crop sensor camera.

Using these simple, inexpensive methods, you can create beautiful macro shots without spending on a dedicated macro lens.

Ways to click macro photographs using a kit lens

1. Freelensing:

This is one of my favourite ways to get real close to the object, specifically because of the pretty light leaks creating a dreamy effect within the camera itself!

Instead of attaching your lens to your camera body, you go handheld! Use one hand to hold and operate the camera and the other to hold and adjust the lens. Experiment with the position of the lens and you’ll notice that the more the distance between your lens and the camera, the more exposed your image will be. Experiment by holding the lens at a slight angle [open up one edge of the lens towards the light source] and adjust the position until your subject is in focus. This also creates the pretty light leaks. Although this method works well with macro photography, it is not limited to it.

Tip: Do not use this method under unfavourable weather conditions, as your camera sensor and mirror box are exposed to dust and moisture. Remount your lens or install the body cap as soon as you are done shooting.

2. Reverse lens macro:

Sounds a bit odd? Maybe. But it is what it says, you need to reverse your lens for this one to be able to get up close to an object with your kit lens. There are a few things to consider here:

Consider getting a reversing ring, these are inexpensive rings that attach from one side to the camera’s lens mount and the other end fits on your lens like a filter. Or you could even reverse-freelens!

Close-up of a bee clicked using the reverse lens macro method – Canon 600D with the 18-55mm kit lens - Shutter Speed: 1/8 | ISO: 800

Tips: in the freelensing and reverse lens macro methods, you have no control over the aperture settings of the camera and the depth of field is too narrow to get too much into focus. Move the camera or the subject back and forth to adjust the focus. Consider using a tripod for sharp results.

The rear part of your lens is left exposed in this case, so take good care while handling your lens when using this method for macro photography.

3. Macro filters:

This is one of the safest ways to get good macro shots with your kit lens as you won’t be risking your camera’s sensor or your lens by leaving it exposed to dust as in the previous cases.

Macro filters are inexpensive and are easily available on Amazon or the likes of it. They come in different magnification values that allow you to get as close as you like. Just screw the filters on your glass like any other filter and get experimenting. Personally, I use this method the most as it yields decent macro results and is perfectly safe for the camera. Additionally, this method also gives you the complete control over the AF and the camera’s exposure system.

Tip: While using a macro filter, the Depth of Field will be too shallow if you use a wide aperture, Consider stopping down [increasing your f-stop number] to get more of the subject into focus.

> Using the kit lens at its maximum focal length will help you get that background blur that you’re looking for.

So you see, there are several ways to achieve good looking macro photographs without spending on a new glass. It may not be the same as clicking with a dedicated macro lens, but these methods are efficient and definitely worth trying! Most importantly, don’t be afraid of experimenting!

Got questions? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back. If you've found these tricks useful and use them in any of your work, I'd love to see it!

Keep clicking! x


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