Can you tell a noob what a "reversed nifty fifty" is??
It's when you mount a lens, usually a normal prime, 'backwards' (front element towards camera) using a reversing adapter ring. It cam be mounted directly to the body, or to the front filter threads of another lens, depending on the adapter type. A reversed lens is one of the many ways of shooting macro without a true macro lens.
OH wow.....that's incredibly interesting!!!
Thank you.....I'll have to look into this. Can this be done with most any lens? What lenses are your best candidates for this....?
As Neuro said, it is mounting the lens "fron element towards camera". For this you will need a "##mm reverse mounting ring" (do an amazon search to see what those look like). The ## stands for the front filter thread size of your lens. So for example the nifty fifty you will need "52mm reverse mounting ring for canon/EOS/EF". These are just black anodized metal rings - one side of which looks like the rear side mount of the lens and this mounts on the camera, the other side has the 52mm (or 55mm or 58mm or whatever mm) thread where you screw the lens. So first you screw on the ring on the lens as if it was a filter and then mount this "filter" on the camera using the mounting side of the ring. This is just one way for doing Macro photography with what you have without spending too much on a true macro lens. But this technique makes the use of a tripod almost mandatory. On top of that since you loose all AF capability (unless you chip the reverse mounting ring with third party AF confirmation chip, has anyone tried this?) you will probably need something like a "macro focusing rail" (again do a google or amazon search) for achieving good focus.
The other way of doing macro (without macro lens) is using extension tubes. These are just metal/plastic tubes that mount the lens away from the image plane and achieve macro images. I prefer metal tubes. No plastic tubes. Again as Neuro said (here and in some other posts) "kenko air" is as valuable as "canon air". So any extension tube (for me as long as they are metal) works. These tubes generally come in a set of three pieces of different lengths, by using different combinations of these you can achieve different tube length and so different magnifications. You mount the tube on the camera and then mount the lens at the end of the tube. Here you can either mount the lens in the normal way or reversed as described above. For the second method you will need the reverse ring of the above paragraph. The use of tripod and macro focusing rail becomes essential again. Kenko and some other companies make tubes which give focus confirmation (and may be AF, aperture control). But there are other much cheaper alternatives (just metal or plastic tubes, no connectivity) which do not provide such connection between lens and camera. If you mount the lens reversed on tubes, then you loose AF etc anyway.
Most of the lenses starting with 50mm to wider focal lengths work perfectly when reversed. I have not been able to achieve good results with 85mm or longer.
Canon EF lenses do not have aperture control on the lens body (you control it directly from camera). Thus I find it a bit awkard to use either nifty fifty or any other EF lens for this reverse or tube method. I need to first stop down lens while normally mounted on the camera body. Then I have to unmount the lens while keeping the Depth of Field Preview button pressed so that the lens remain stopped down even when unmounted. Then I can use the lens on tube or reversed. The stopping down of the lens is to achieve a little bit more depth of field, as the above methods (reverse or tube or reverse on tube) make the DOF of the order of 1 to 2 MILLIMETERS. For this, lenses which offer aperture control (example older pentax, or non-G nikon, probably FD) are better suited.
Finally to repeat myself, I have found that any extension tube works as long as it is made of metal (assuming you are not looking for AF or aperture control). The lenses that you are going to mount (50mm or below, the lighter versions) are not so heavy that they will create problem. of course 35mm L or 24mm L may create problems. So avoid heavy lenses.