Freelensing for On-the-Go Macro Shots

Here’s another quick tutorial by Destin, the guy who helped popularize using chickens as a cheap Steadicam alternative. It was made on an airplane flight when he wanted to shoot some photographs of the ice forming outside his window. If you’re ever in a situation where you want to shoot a macro photo but don’t have a macro lens, try flipping your lens around for a cheap and easy macro photography solution.

Here are a few sample photos shown in the video using this freelensing technique:

You can find high-res versions of these images in this Flickr set. Be careful when playing around with freelensing — do your best to keep dust from getting into your camera.


Image credit: Photographs by destinws2

  • WendyMayo

     Must be a Canon thing.  If I take the lens off my Nikon D90, it won’t take a photo.

  • Steve F

     If you need to set the aperture before doing this, you can often set the Av you want, then hold the DoP button while taking the lens off.  That way the Av won’t close down when you remove the lens and it’ll keep your setting while off the camera.

  • ingrid

    that’s what I was going to say! Nikon D90 does not work without the lens 

  • Anonymous

    Great tip Steve, I’ll try that. I was wondering how to do that since whenever I tried it defaulted the aperture to wide open. – f1.4 at macro distances becomes very hard to work with.

  • Matthew Choi

    it does. just set the camera to allow it to release the shutter despite not having a lens attached, and you have to manually “flick” the aperture-adjustment-tab (for a G lens) or simply adjust the aperture manually on a D lens like the olden days

    and if i’m not wrong, longer focal lengths give less macro-ability. i might be wrong though. it’s been a few years since i’ve done it

  • Daniel Lowe

    Or you could try a lens reversing ring or extension tubes, like those made by Opteka.  Sample photos with macro/reversed 50mm –

  • Sebastián Soto

    I’ve tried this on my Sony A290 and it works, but I need a lot of light, even outside, on a sunny day, with ISO 3200, it turns hard to take a good picture.

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