If you need to get some extreme close ups, don't buy an expensive macro lens until you try this little trick.
Getting close, and I mean really close, to a subject requires a macro lens. The problem with that is these kinds of lenses tend to cost a pretty penny if they're high-end, which may not seem like a reasonable investment if you only need to get a few extreme close ups for your film. But, you may not have to; you might be able to shoot some macro shots for free without having to buy a new lens. In this episode of Indy Mogul's series Saturday Morning Special, cinematographer JP Caldeano, also known as Cinematic J on YouTube, shows you how to turn any lens into a macro lens using this super simple trick.
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=S63M6NAIrrg
Let's end the suspense. The trick is to turn your damn lens around! If you've been in the film/photography business for some time, you're probably familiar with this technique, but for those of you who are just starting out, this might be the revelation that changes your cinematographic approach from here on out. (Maybe I'm overselling it a little...)
This trick works best if you've got a reverse ring (or reverse adapter/mount/converter), because you won't have to hold your lens in place. However, it works just fine without one. So why do people even buy macro lenses if you can just flip your lens around? Well, like all good things, this little trick has a catch. You won't be able to focus with your focus ring—like—at all. You'll have to move the camera closer to or further away from your subject until it's in focus, which can be a huge pain in the ass if they're moving. To make matters more complicated, these kinds of shots often have a very shallow depth of field, which only adds to the challenge of maintaining focus.
But you can't go wrong with free. (You can, but let's just have a good day today.) If you don't have a macro lens lying around, this is a totally acceptable way to get close ups when you need them. Caldeano suggests using a 50mm lens that you can control manually, as well as a tripod when you can to keep your shots still and in focus.