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I have a Nikon d3300 camera, but the only two lenses I have for it are a 18-52mm and a 70-300mm. I would like to take macro pictures, but can't really afford a specialized lens yet.

When I try to take a picture close up, the lenses I have can't focus close enough to anything for it to work properly. There's only so far I can crop and zoom before the picture quality gets so bad.

Is there a way I can take a macro picture without actually having a macro lens?

  • Did you try using the most narrow aperture? It would require long exposure, but you can get sharper picture even when not ideally focused. – Display Name Jan 4 '15 at 15:00
  • Did you also try photography.stackexchange.com for photography questions? – Stan Aug 2 '16 at 13:37
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You can actually flip the lens around and use it as a macro lens that way.

Since it's not going to be connected to the camera body, you're obviously going to lose the ability to zoom, and you'll have to focus by moving the camera to and from the object, but it actually works quite well once you get the hang of it.

The only thing I've found that's a pain is keeping the aperture open.

lenssource

The aperture is closed by default, and opened using a little switch in the part of the lens that connect to the camera body. You can kind of see it in the picture above, it's on the right next to the screw. You'll have to hold that switch open in order to let enough light in through the lense to take any pictures.

Just be warned, there's a big downside to using this method, because you're holding the lense out in the open like that you're allowing dust and dirt to get into it.

You can get lens reversal kits, which are cheaper than getting an actual macro lens. All they'll do is allow you to connect the lens on backwards, and protect the backside of your lense from dust.

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  • Another answer given here from Louis-Rafael has a great link to inexpensive adapters for doing this with your lens. – Stan Aug 3 '16 at 15:05
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Another option would be to use a lens turned around - with the lens mount in front and holding the camera body to the front of the lens. It's more finicky, but there are also adapters for that, which are very inexpensive: http://tinyurl.com/j2jxgyq.

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You can buy "inexpensive" extension tubes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extension_tube) (for the price, ymmv... the ones corresponding to your camera's make will be more expensive than generic ones, but will also allow the electronics to pass through, which is actually not that useful as the focusing will likely be impossible using auto-focus, and you'll most likely have to resort to manual focusing anyway):

  • they can fit whatever lens(es) you have, as they simply "extend" your camera's attachment (of course, you need to buy ones that fit on your camera!)
  • they can stack on top of each other, allowing for several changes in the focusing distance and the depth of field. I recommend trying at first with the smaller one, usually more than enough to get the result you want.
  • They change a lot the way the lens(es) focus, usually making wonders by allowing you to be 1cm close to your fingertip and have it fill a big part of the picture, and have the fingerprints clearly visible.

They are tricky to use at first, but you'll get the hang of it after a while (and having a set of 3 different stackable extension tubes allow several variations of focusing distance and depth of field)

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  • Extension tubes were "the" way to do macro-photography before manufacturers came up with designs to do this as part of a built-in lens focus capability. – Stan Aug 3 '16 at 15:12

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