How to shoot macros with film cameras?


TPF Noob!
Mar 19, 2009
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Hello friends,
I own a Canon PowerShot S5IS and a Nikon 2002 film camera with a 28-200 lens. With the digital camera of course I can take macro shots. But can I also take macro shots with my film camera? If yes, then please tell me how.
Of course! The only thing is you cannot see your work right after you take the exposure. People took macro shots long before digital cameras were around. Not sure if your lense has a macro feature but i know that i sometimes throw my 55-200mm on my nikon n80 and play around with psuedo macro. Sometimes not knowing what you are going to get can be fun.
I would recomend getting a copy of this book:
[ame=]Close-ups in Nature (Practical Photography Books): John Shaw: Books[/ame]

its a well written guide for macro photography and (like many of his writings) was written during his film days, though he does make mention of digital cameras as well (And many film methods still valid for digial shots). This would give you a lot of advice for film shooting macro.

Also you might need to look for a macro lens for your film camera - check out ebay and do some research as a lot of film gear is being sold very cheaply these days since digital stole the market.
Also you might need to look for a macro lens for your film camera - check out ebay and do some research as a lot of film gear is being sold very cheaply these days since digital stole the market.

Lenses aren't as many lenses ( especially true of Nikon and Pentax ) work fine on digital bodies.

That said it's well worth looking for older lenses but don't expect total bargains EXCEPT if you look for complete kits.

50mm f1.7 Pentax lenses can touch £40-50 on ebay.. but it's often possible to get the same lens on a body for less ( I paid £50 for two bodies, two 50mm lenses, 70-200 zoom, flash and tripod once )
Macro for 35mm film cameras is perhaps cheapest and simplest with a standard 50mm lens and a set of extension tubes, including a lens-reversing ring for really close work.
Macro for 35mm film cameras is perhaps cheapest and simplest with a standard 50mm lens and a set of extension tubes, including a lens-reversing ring for really close work.

Not sure about simplest due to the fact the linkage between the lens and the body is lost. Forces full manual and a lot of understanding of exposures and possibly how to meter for flashes etc.

Simplest is a 100 or 135mm lens with Macro which can be had probably for about £50-100 off ebay.
I would look into the Nikkor 105mm F2.8 VR. I hear its a great macro lens. However, if a lens thats over $1000 is out of your budget, I would recommend the Sigma 105mm F2.8.
Thanks very much to all of you friends. But I don't think my lens support macros. It's a Sigma 28-200 AF lens. As I am very new to photography and economically weak, I am puzzles about what to do. Do I have to be out for one more lens?!
Someone told me that I can shoot macros with a non-macro lens by using one of the following:-
1. Close-up lens
2. Extension tube
3. Macro lens

I suppose each of these are supplimentary accessory used with a non-macro lens. Can anybody show a light on it, please?
You could get a reversing ring (probably less than $10), or a macro coupler (also <$10) if you have another lens in addition to that 28-200.

Those would be the least expensive options. Extension tubes would be next ($80-100), followed by a macro lens ($400-600).

Not really familiar with the 'close-up lenses' (I think it's basically a magnifying filter), but as far as cost goes - they would probably be between the rings and extension tubes ($50ish?).
There are tons of ways to do macro with Film, I've toyed with just about all of them from bellows and extention tubes to reverse lens and macro filters, I've used dedicated macro lenses and macro enabled zooms, I've even combined several methoeds at a time to get some really close stuff.

Question is, how close do you want to get to what?
Battou, please share with us some of your best macro shots.
Mainly I want to shoot water drops, dragon flies, eyes of flies, polens of flowers etc.
If you want to shoot water drops, you would want to do that with digital, unless you have the money to spend on film. With water drops you miss A LOT. It gets really annoying.
If you still want to do water drops with film, Your 70-200 will work for this, just get a little further and zoom in.

For everything else on your list, I would recomend a 100 or 200mm macro lens, The brightest you can afford, and some extension tubes/bellows and a reverse adaptor. (the thing that lets you mount your lens backwards, so the rear element is facing the subect)
Well, my interests don't align with yours but I can still be helpful.

Your best bet is a Macro Filters and/or dedicated Macro lens wile a Macroenabled zoom lens will work. Bellows units and extention tubes tend to require longer exposures that are not ideal for moving subjects or outdoors use. DOF with Macro is razor thin so you want to stop down a bit if you want good sharp macros reguardless of the equipment used.

Macro filters are a good start, they can be used on any lens that has that particular filter diameter for any camera, These are not going to slow down the lens enabling you to use faster shutter speeds needed for handholding provided the lens is fast enough it self. The numbers indicate the filters magnification power and can be stacked or used individually for different levels of magnification. I own two sets, A set of Tiffen 1,2 and 4 at 52mm and a set of Vivitar 1,2,and 3 at 58mm.

Dedicated Prime Macro lenses are not only the pinicle of macro lenses they are also one of the best starting tools. They are commonly slower than regular prime lenses both in max aperture and AF speed, But they are extreamly sharp. I own four manual focus dedicated macrolenses Canon FD Macro 50mm 3.4, Canon FD Macro 100mm 4.0, CPC Macro 28mm 2.8 (M/MD), and Super Macro takumar 50mm 4.0 (P/M42). Yeah you have to buy a lens, but contrary to it's name it is not really dedicated to macro, you can use it for other things as well. If you look around you will read amout Macro lens owners using these for protraites and whatnot due to their superior quality. One draw back is that many of these lenses stop at 1:1 some fall short of it requiring a little more to push beyond 1:1.

Macro Enabled Zooms are by far the most versital in the field, but that versitility comes with the sacrifice of macro ability and image quality, I have not yet seen a macro enabled zoom lens capable of 1:1. Unlike Macro filters they can go from macro focusing to normal use without having to add or remove anything from the lens. I own three macro enabled zooms Sears 60-300mm (C/FD), Gemini 80-200mm (C/FD), Vivitar 70-150mm 3.8 (M/MD)

Taken with stacked Tiffen Macro Filters on Canon FD 50mm 1.4 on Canon EF

Taken Handheld with stacked Tiffen macro filters on Hoya 81A on Nikkor 50mm on Nikon FM (uncropped full frame)

Taken with Kodak C-743 (yeah, that is a point and shoot) through stacked Tiffen Macro Filters

Taken handheld with Canon FD macro 50mm 3.5 on Canon EF

Taken handheld with Gamini 80-200 on Canon EF

My favorite Macro
Taken with Stacked Tiffen Macro filters on Canon 50mm 1.4 on Canon Bellows FL on Canon EF

See the thread here
Thank you very much for your valueable suggestions, Battou. And thanks for your macro shots. A big WOW to them!
What is the 3rd photo of? And what the last one?

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