My Equipment

Super Macro Equipment

Super macro equipment assembled
  1. Canon PowerShot G5.
  2. Home-made lens adapter.
  3. Reversed lens Helios-44-2 58mm f/2.
  4. Ring Light.
  5. Rechargeable batteries.

That's what I use to take extreme macro shots.

I realize that it's just a true macro or close to it. But my camera (like most, if not all, other cameras) have a mode which the manufacturer calls Macro and which, actually, should be called Close-Up. To distinguish the photos taken with this equipment from those taken in my camera's native Macro mode, I call them extreme or super macro.

Just to clarify. After all, it's all about nice and interesting pictures, not terminology, isn't it?

Lens Adapter

Lens adapter

The lens adapter has a male thread on one end (to screw to the reversed lens) and no thread on the other end. I just put it on the camera's lens casing. (Yes, I know it would be better to paint black the inside of the adapter. Maybe some day I'll overcome my laziness and do so.)

Ring Light

Lighting device

The lighting device is made of 24 light emitting diodes (LED) fastened to a plastic ring with insulating tape. I believe, the ring was once a part of a chandelier but I am not sure. Anyhow, it perfectly fits my needs - its inclined side allows to direct the light at one spot and its hole exactly matches the reversed lens' thread so that the ring doesn't require any additional fastening.

The LEDs are fed by 4 rechargeable batteries GP 1300 (1.2V each). Their capacity is enough for one- or two-hour photo session (I, of course, switch off the light when I don't need it).

I don't remember the type of the LEDs I've used and the resistors' value, but here is the circuit:

Lighting device circuit

If you know the working current and voltage of your LEDs, you can easily calculate which resistors you need. If you don't remember Ohm's law, just enter something like 'current limiting resistor calculator for LED' in your favorite search engine.

Camera Settings

The working distance of this construction is about 3.5cm measuring from the top of the LEDs (or about 4cm measuring from the reversed lens). And the DOF (depth of field) is about 1mm.

Samples

The images on this site are cropped and reduced in size and don't reveal the real magnification this equipment allows to achieve. So here are some samples without any retouching.

Click the thumbnails for full-size images (2592x1944 pixels).

Millimeter ruler (153KB):

Ruler

Millimeter ruler at an angle of about 45° (to show the DOF, 110KB):

Ruler at an Angle

Needle's eye (139KB):

Needle's Eye

Conclusion

The advantage of this construction is obvious - it's cheap.

What doesn't satisfy me is low brightness of the lighting device. A shutter speed at 1/30-1/60 sec may be not so bad in regular photography. But in macro mode, a slightest movement that you can't even notice without magnification blurs the image at that shutter speed. So with this lighting device you can't do without a tripod.

However, a tripod is probably a must in macro mode at any shutter speed with any lighting device because of so shallow DOF. It's almost impossible to focus precisely without a firm support.

Update: OK, I can do without a tripod now. See below.

Super Macro v2.0 (Macro Flash)

Being dissatisfied with the low brightness of the LED ring, I decided to try something new. Here is what I got:

Super macro with Flash Light Guide

That thing above the lenses is a light guide - it directs the light from the built-in flash to the subject. I've made it of a piece of cardboard glued over with aluminum foil.

The light guide's head I made removable so that I could test different models.

Flash Light Guide

Warning: if you are going to make something like that, wait until the glue dries before you put the make on your camera for a long time. Otherwise the glue fumes may corrode the camera's plastic surface. I've made such a mistake and my camera's top display panel became a bit dimmed. So take into account my experience and avoid an extra polishing work.

I've also added a cardboard ring inside the LED ring to prevent the LEDs direct light from hitting the lens. And with another, plastic ring I've covered the LEDs. First, to diffuse the light. And second, to make the light more homogeneous. It's difficult to adjust the white balance setting when you have too many different sources of light.

Lastly, I've wound a black insulating tape round the ring light. I've seen some ironical comments on the look of my device on the Net. Hope it looks more smart now :) To paint the lens adapter black is still on my todo list.

With the help of my 'macro flash', I shoot at a speed as fast as 1/250 sec now (that's the G5's fastest shutter speed for flash synchronization) and can do without a tripod - unless I am going to combine several shots in Photoshop.

Of course, the light of the flash alone would be enough but I still use the LED ring because it helps me focus in low light conditions.

And here is a match taken with my new device (click the thumbnail for a full-size image - 2592x1944 pixels, 152KB):

A Match

Credits go to M.Plonsky from whom I've learned about the reversed lens technique.

2007-08-23 13:05:21 UTC
Simply amazing. I heard one leading photographer telling that equipment should liberate the photographer. You have just done that.
2. Me
2007-10-02 13:28:49 UTC
Nice ringlight, but you really dont need 2resistors!!! You can use one resistor instead, just couple it between the battery and the leds (for example cut off one of the battery leads and put the resistor there.
3. Sorry
2007-10-02 13:29:19 UTC
I meant, you dont need 24 resistors, only 1.
2007-10-05 15:52:14 UTC
Thanks for your comments.

As to the circuit, yes, one resistor would be enough. It should be a rather big resistor (at least 3W, I believe) so that it would not get too warm, but it certainly would work.
2007-10-06 13:07:56 UTC
...And also that single resistor would be of a very low resistance and high precision. So, in theory, one resistor would be enough. But in practice, it may be easier to couple each LED with its own small (0.25W), regular tolerance resistor instead of using one big and precise resistor.
6. Marc
2007-10-26 02:12:31 UTC
I have a cheap camera and I did macros of my watch in 5mpx. My focus range in macro is 170 to 220mm (6.7 to 8.6in). The result is pretty good but my camera don't have optical zoom. What difference should it make if I buy a camera with an optical zoom? Nice work you did there.
2007-10-26 17:58:11 UTC
While optical zoom brings the subject closer to you when you are taking, say, a portrait, you will not get bigger details in a close-up photo. This is because the minimum shooting distance increases when you zoom in. For example, the minimum shooting distance of my camera without zoom is 50mm. When I zoom in, it becomes 180mm and the image of the subject remains of the same size.
8. Evert
2007-11-13 14:22:09 UTC
I created a similar construction, with less (only 8
) led's and 12 volt.
Works perfectly. Thanks Evert
9. pp
2007-11-18 22:06:27 UTC
Re the single / multiple resistor aspect of this. Check elsewhere on the net, but you'll find that it's recommended / std practise to have a resistor for each led - in this configuration.
Using a single (even high precision) resistor doesn't get over the fact that there's no guarantee that all the leds will have the same forward voltache when current's passing thro 'em.

In this (proposed single resistor) scenario, the voltage at the resistor / led junction will be 'forced' on all leds - irrespective of what the individual components Vf is - for leds whose Vf is lower than the junction voltage, then there's no current limiting aspect. Draw your own conclusions about what'll eventually happen :)

If you've got high enough voltage available (unlike here, cos Vf is about 3.3v) then you can connect leds in series, then connect a current limiting resistor in series with the led chain.

Again, see elsewhere on the net for circuit diagrams.
10. Nathan
2008-05-31 01:17:45 UTC
I have an evolt 500 and my 35mm zuiko macro. Could something like a homemade ring flash be modified for that? The on-board flash guide is cool. Can one of those be made for a top side pop up flash.
11. Zurab
2008-05-31 09:18:36 UTC
I have never used an evolt 500 but I see no reason why you would not be able to make a LEDs ring for it. It's home-made, after all. Just make it fit your camera. The same goes for a flash light guide.
12. nahir
2008-06-22 13:40:19 UTC
this is photografy¡¡¡¡
unheard¡¡¡
13. david
2008-07-16 21:59:01 UTC
the picture of the match is incredible, my friend uses fibre optics for his macro shots, get right inside, especially for mechanical things so you can light cogs, springs etc. nice one
14. the consumer
2008-08-02 08:43:29 UTC
hello

we should all be consumers here

building home made equipment is all well and good and I do it myself

but you are making this thing to compete with professional merchandise

in any case I am sure you would save yourself a lot of frustration if you just brought a canon Macro lens
15. the consumer
2008-08-02 08:46:44 UTC
actually I have ad a complement

the ring light is pure genius

though they could do with a defuse
16. Jorge Perez
2008-08-22 00:06:25 UTC
I just want to tell you that your photos are stunning. I have seen thousands of macro photos, but yours ... wow !!!!
17. kira
2008-09-17 02:49:26 UTC
Wow! That's impressive! Now heres my question, did you machine the home-made lens adapter? just curious. oh, and that diode thing at the very end of the camera is just cool!
18. Zurab
2008-09-17 05:17:48 UTC
Thanks everybody for sharing your thoughts.
I asked a turner to make the adapter for me. I have no lathe.
19. amateur photographer
2008-10-08 05:23:16 UTC
you
are
crazy
20. amateur photographer
2008-10-08 05:24:13 UTC
I mean that in a good way! I love photography "specially macro" but I don't have such a good camera, I can't afford one =(
awesome work...
21. impressed fellow
2008-10-21 17:17:01 UTC
Hi, your patience is coveted. I must work harder. :). Does the flash work ettl or do you need to sync it??

Regards,
somebody.
22. Emaad
2008-10-25 03:16:53 UTC
hi,

Very very welldone..I mostly add two closeup filters on my 380mm telephoto end of my Olympus C2100 PNS and it acts more like a macro lens. You can even use any normal old 50mm lens attached reverse on your PNS..

your idea is complete with all lighting stuff...i really appreciate..
2008-12-26 21:57:27 UTC
GOSTARIA DE RECEBER MAIS INFORFAÇÕES,SOBRE ESSA MAQUINA!!
OBG..............
2009-03-12 08:21:29 UTC
Dude, you are amasing I love you dude, this is so cool I really love macro, and this just really improves my life, you made my day thank you.
25. CK
2009-03-14 14:36:38 UTC
nice! I love it when people create stuff like this.
26. Mr Bill
2009-07-01 19:54:14 UTC
Wow what a great idea. I am building myself a copy. Not knowing anyone who could machine the lens adapter for me I set out to purchase the parts.
I bought a metal two piece lens attachment adapter for my canon G10(not from Canon their's is plastic)with a 58mm thread ( about $17.00). I found the adapter on Amazon.com. This gave me a female thread to scew into. Camera Filters.com has a male to male 58 mm thread adapter ($5.00). This gives me a setup similar to your lens adapter.
I will be working out the flash next.
Thanks!!
27. Eduardo
2009-08-20 13:41:31 UTC
Gambiarra
2009-10-13 22:46:39 UTC
it is very good and lit let me pass my science project thank you my friend
29. Peter
2009-10-22 13:45:48 UTC
Brilliant.
Inspirational.
Now to build my own variant for my Sony Cybershot and my Sony DSLR!
30. mei
2009-12-05 12:58:00 UTC
Cool! I want to make a copy. May I know how do you attached the metal extension tube to the body of G5? And is there any adapter again between the tube and the Hellios? Thanks, mei_umg@hotmail.com
31. Tom
2009-12-12 08:34:28 UTC
VERY NICE MODIFICATIONS NICE TO SEE SOMEONE OUT THERE WITH LATERAL THOUGHT
2009-12-25 19:04:45 UTC
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
2010-03-02 08:21:01 UTC
very nice goood and best
2010-03-02 08:21:31 UTC
Thank you for ......
35. Isaak
2010-03-16 08:35:55 UTC
shit yeah man, thats fantastic
36. Hans
2010-05-09 18:02:01 UTC
That looks like a lot of fun. Just a thought ... the flash light is very much more powerful than the leds. So, Why not glue a narrow mirror to the tube at 45 Degrees and another at the bottom of the lens so that flash light from the tube partly illuminates the subject directly from the top and partly from light reflected forwards from the lower mirror ... which redirects the flash from the top.
37. greggort
2010-06-04 03:39:30 UTC
very bright idea
38. greggort
2010-06-04 03:40:04 UTC
its very flash... get it??
39. G.Prabahran
2010-12-28 10:11:44 UTC
Hi,
It's very Nice .
i bought New camera. I like macro photography .
Macro Lens is very Expensive for me.
Your Concept is solve my problem.I'll try it.
Thank you very much for sharing.
40. Edmar
2010-12-31 04:47:57 UTC
Muito bom! Gostei muito dessa técnica, faço algumas fotos em macro.

Abraços!
41. Priscilla
2011-02-23 23:22:07 UTC
Can I do this with a canon 50D model I am new to this and this is just what i need but am not mechanically incliend any thoughts on how to start >>>
42. Ghaith
2011-03-28 20:21:42 UTC
really creative...
but how can you prove that those pictures(on the home page)taken by this equipment......
I do not believe [I am serious]
43. Virgil
2011-04-02 05:59:25 UTC
creative.... Thanks i make some macro photos you can have a look in my website ...
44. lol
2011-05-27 02:06:38 UTC
lol
45. shamsul
2011-07-11 13:53:46 UTC
u r so creative....:-)
46. nat
2011-12-13 22:56:55 UTC
How much did you cost???
47. rajab ali mohamadi
2012-07-14 16:59:38 UTC
Hello
You're good
I am Iranian and I can buy a special interest in photography that I can not get another camera I used the camera that you send for me
Thanks

rahab ali mohamadi
48. paco
2012-11-03 20:42:49 UTC
una chapuza
49. king
2012-12-20 17:39:52 UTC
wow.. clever setup. good idea.. Thanks!!
50. Mars
2015-10-01 09:58:37 UTC
very very nice idea! score!

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