Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cheap macro with a 35-80mm lens

In this post, you will see how you can turn either a 35-80mm, or a 28-80mm into a macro lens with absolutely minimal effort. All you need to do is to remove the front element and you will be rewarded with a macro lens capable of going from around 0.7X to 1.8X (1:1.35 to 1.85:1).

For more "cheap macro" ideas, check this out.

This is not my idea. I stumbled across a thread on hacking a 35-80mm in the FredMiranda forum a few days ago. The original idea was with a 35-80. I told CheeWai about this and coincidentally, a friend of his has the 28-80mm so he loaned it for a little experiment. You can see how it went below.

All images and text below are by CheeWai.

Here is how it's done:

DIY Macro 1
10 year old EF 28-80mm kit lens. An old 35-80mm lens will work too. For now, I will use 28-80 as this is what I can find. Lens is courtesy of Tan Bing Liang.

cheap macro 2
For 35-80mm lens, pry open the front sticker to reveal 3 tiny screws

DIY Macro 35-80mm 3
But lucky me, the screws for the 28-80 is located at the side of the focusing ring. Front sticker saved.

35-80mm 4
Simply pop open the front element, be extra careful not to scratch the glass element. This entire process is non destructive and is completely reversible.

28-80mm 5
This is what it looks like with the front element removed. Incidently, the element removed is the focusing element. Therefore, AF and MF will no longer work. Not an issue to me since I slide my camera back and forth when focusing in macro.

Basically, it's done. I now have a zoomable macro lens with a magnification range of 0.7x to 1.8x !!

35-80mm 6
Around 0.74X magnification @ 28mm. Working distance at 1.5 inch

28-80mm 7
Around 1.85x magnification @ 80mm. Working Distance at 1.0 inch

Pros and Cons


- Cheap (or free) if you can get hold of the lens.
- Extremely light weight compared to current macro lens
- can still ETTL and control the aperture!
- 0.7x - 1.8x gives flexibility
- super light, weighs almost next to nothing!


- Working distance too close.
- optics quality is average.

Notes: with the Canon 35-80mm, you get from around 0.82X magnification to 1.71X life size magnification according to this site.

For more cheap macro ideas, check this out.

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  1. Bro, this one is quite challenging but risky:-

  2. Yes, seen that one before. You think your BIL can do this for us? LOL.

  3. Great tutorial Kurt....but I don't have the nerve to take my lenses apart!!!

  4. Thanks, Steven. It was an old lens, and very easy to take apart :)

  5. Guessing the price of old Canon wide-angle zoom lenses on Ebay just shot up! :)



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