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Ghetto Gear

From OCAU Wiki

Back to Photography


Lets ghetto!

Being a photographer is a wonderful thing, but like a large number of good hobbies/professions, equipment can be quite expensive, often leading people to extreme measures (such as personal/business loans, or even 'bank robbing' [which is illegal!]).
Thankfully there are alternatives to high interest rates, or someone named 'Bubba' and a communal shower experience. It's ghetto gear.
So, this part of the OCAU wiki has been compiled by various forum members to share on our experiments (preferably the successes) and tips/tricks that are learned or discovered in making photography both cheaper and tons more fun!

External resources

Forum posts:
Cheap lenshoods as shown by Gatecrasher
DIY ND filter shared by wisie
Build your own lightbox posted by Âstroboy
Gatecrasher's very own studio setup (plus results)
Xanex came across this ghetto macro lighting rig
3Toed's Ghetto Macro Focussing Rail made from Lego

In house rigs

A cheap diffuser can be made using a couple of plastic shopping bags cut down to fit over your flash head. Alternatively you could make a box out of thin GSM paper, and sticky tape it on your flash.

Ghetto Macro Photography

Most macro photography is achieved with expensive lenses and sometimes macro flash rings (essentially, a flash that sits on the end of your lens)

Such photography is wonderful to attempt, but out of many people's reach simply because it is so expensive, however if you are determined there are a few ways to achieve the coveted 1:1 ratio, but none better than lens reversal (in my opinion):

Lens reversal:

In a nutshell, lens reversal is turning the lens you currently use on your SLR camera around, so the front element is now pointed at the sensor/film. This technique works best if you can find a screw adaptor for your lens mount, Nikon and Canon mount adaptors are fairly common and can be bought from ebay quite cheaply (around $15-20 AU).

Lens reversal works best with a standard wide/short tele zoom lens, like an 18-70 or 18-55, as the wider the lens, the closer you can get. 1:1 results are best achieved using a fixed 35mm lens with an aperture ring, like a film lens, but a zoom lens will do as well if you have a steady hand, and there is a marking for 35mm on the lens.

Many lenses on the market have a problem that prevents many people from trying lens reversal, and that is that the aperture tends to be fully camera controlled. If you have an aperture ring that mechanically sets the aperture, go ahead, have fun, but otherwise, read on: The simplest solution to the problem of an aperture that automatically sets itself to F22 when you take the lens off the camera is to take a rear lens cap (most people would have one spare) and cut a hole in the middle, about 5mm larger than the rear element of the lens. Lens caps tend to have an aperture lever on them, and this will force the lens to its maximum opening.

NB: If your rear cap doesn't have an aperture lever on it, a paperclip superglued onto the cap in the right place will do, but you are probably better off going down to your local camera store and buying an old film lens with an aperture ring on it.

Using lens reversal:

Generally, at 35mm, the distance from the end of your lens to the object should be about 6cm or so. to increase this distance, simply zoom (when the lens is reversed, the ring will rotate the other way for zooming) and you will need to move further back.

To increase DoF, reduce your aperture, same as if you were using your lens normally. (this will require substantially more light to get a useable picture however.)

So, I thought I'd do a quick demo of how I lens reverse, since it seems that people may be slightly confused.

Firstly: I use an 18-70, but I very rarely go below 35mm as it's just too difficult to control the DOF at that length.

Here's a test shot of a 10c piece at 50mm using my new setup:

As you can see, the DOF covers almost the entire image, which is useful.

Quick tips: Focusing using rings is out with this setup - to focus, you have to practice rocking your body back and forth slightly, and you have to be pretty close to the subject (within about 10cm at 50mm)

My setup:

I use the sony body and flash for shooting obviously, but this shows that I have used a rear lens cap to hold the aperture lever open by cutting a big hole in the back of the cap.

The mount to the body involves a reversing ring (purchasable from ebay) and a hollowed out body cap, mounted together with (in this case) medical tape, but I'd prefer to use electrical tape as it looks much better. a black lens cap would be good as well.

Anyway, now that you can see how I do it, go out and have fun!

Gotta love ghetto ;)

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