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Red Admiral on Aster, originally uploaded by Skink74.

One of my fascinations has always been macro photography, but exploring that field has been troublesome. For a long time I had nothing but a +3 dioptre close-up filter, which wasn’t of great quailty and so didn’t give great results either.

When I got my 20D and had more opportunity to experiment (digital’s big win) but not the cash to get a proper macro lens, I got some reversing rings. These are great fun especially with the kit lens, which allows you to get really close when set to 18mm. I also tried them with some of my FD lenses, which gave me a bit of control over the aperture which a reversed EF lens doesn’t. The problem with reversed lenses is the working distance – it’s very small, a few cm – so it’s tricky to get photos of living creatures due to the tendency they have to run away.

My current set up is still a financial compromise – I still can’t justify buying a proper AF macro lens for the amount I would actually use it. So some time ago I bought an FD mount 50mm macro lens with an extension tube for about £20. It was in very good condition – it still has the QA stickers and is perfect for macro with my A-1 film body when the need arises.
However I’ve also had an FD-EF adapter for a while and, although I gave up on the idea of using it for everyday photography due to the appalling optics it uses to achieve infinity focus, with the optics removed it makes for a pretty good combination adapter/extension tube for mounting the FD macro on the 20D. With the lens set to infinity it focuses out to about 30cm, and focuses down to about 10cm. Obviously this still isn’t ideal for the more nervous critters, but it’s good for most small things.
The challenge is obviously the manual focus. Any slight movement by me and the focus is off – depth of field is minimal even stopped down a fair way. The attractions of AF Servo become more apparent every time I use this lens. However, optically it’s a superb lens, and when I don’t scare the target off it doesn’t disappoint.