Video: DIY macro photography with a $20 microscope lens and 3D printed adapter: Digital Photography Review

Image credit: Micael Widell

One of macro photographer Micael Widell’s subscribers, Nicholas Sherlock, sent Widell an awesome microscope lens and 3D-printed adapter. Sherlock, a macro photography enthusiast, created a microscope adapter for up to 4x macro photography on Sony E / FE, Canon EF / EF-S, Nikon F and M42 cameras.

With the adapter, you can attach an AmScope 4x Plan Achromatic Objective Lens with Knurled Ring, which costs just over $ 20, to your camera. Widell also used one of his go-to Meike flashes and headed out in the field to test the roughly $ 20 DIY macro lens.

The microscope element delivers an extremely shallow depth of field, so Widell tried out some focus stacks as well, which helped bring a bit more depth and detail to the macro images. Based on Widell’s sample images, there’s no doubt that the microscope lens is sharp. It also has tight framing due to the 4x macro capabilities, so when you shoot a handheld as Widell often does, it’s tricky to keep the lens steady and capture your entire subject. The DIY macro lens could be better suited to studio work, but Widell isn’t one to back down from a challenge.

Doing macro focus stacking while handheld is especially tricky, but doable. To learn about Widell’s effective technique, check out his video tutorial below.

The microscope lens is an F4 optic. However, since it’s a 4x magnification lens, Widell says that it gathers light more like an F20 lens, so you’ll want to use a flash. Widell was impressed by the DIY lens’ sharpness. Plus, because the lens and adapter are so narrow, you can easily get close to insects without bumping into many leaves and flowers. Some macro lenses are quick thick, so they’re difficult to get near a subject.

Overall, Widell’s experience was mixed. The sharpness and overall size and weight of the DIY lens and adapter is good. However, the extremely shallow depth of field is difficult to work with, so Widell likely won’t use the lens for more handheld macro photography. However, it’s an affordable way to give macro photography a try, and you can achieve impressive results.

To see more from Micael Widell, visit his YouTube channel and follow him on Instagram. To download the necessary files for the 3D-printed adapter, visit Thingiverse.

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