Simplest macro hack ever


This quick little hack is beautiful in its simplicity. Need a macro lens to play with? Simply rip the lens out of a pair of binoculars and tape it to the end of your slr lens. The result is pretty good. If you need something a little higher quality, you could always hack an extra AF lens.


  1. Ken says:

    wow, if you can get the lens placed right, that could make some decent pictures

  2. sunjester says:

    hmmmm ziplock bag and tape? same effect?

  3. Dennis says:

    yeah placing two lenses behind each other is exactly high-tech rocketscience hacking. Never saw anything like this before! (?? bit disappointing !!)

  4. Dennis says:

    ^^ especially considering you need to rip apart a fully functional optical device to do this “hack” this is just nonsense.

  5. strider_mt2k says:

    -enter the “bitch and moaners”
    (feel free to exit just as fast)

    if there’s a broken set of binocs around then you aren’t destroying anything

    hacks are hacks, go build a rocket and post it here, but don’t go getting all weepy mcgee on us because someone else didn’t.

  6. Alchemyguy says:

    No doubt; assuming you’re going to go out and buy a nice set of optics to do this up is a bit dense. But if one has access to something with a scratched lens or where the seal has cracked, this might be a fun jumping off point for *experimenting for yourself*!

    What? The properties of optical lenses have already been worked out and I could just go buy a macro lens instead of making one myself and learning something about how the world works? I dunno, that sounds like work…

    I like bitching and moaning about the bitches and moaners. :D

  7. Whatever says:

    This hack could cost anywhere from $0.00 to $3.00 to $100s of dollars.

    It scales.

    Stop whining.

  8. photozz says:

    If you have an SLR, set ut to Manual and remove the lens. Turn it around and hold the front of the lens against the body. Move the camera in and out until subject is in focus. Usually about 2-5″ from the camera. I have done this for years. No extra glass, no tape, no degradation of the image. Works better with older lenses where you can manually force the aperture to a certain value.

  9. strider_mt2k says:

    Alchemyguy: it’s kinda fun ;)

  10. Matt says:

    I’ve done something similar with an inexpensive point and shoot for taking close ups for eBay items. I just held a magnifying glass in front of the lens. Hold it straight enough and divergence is minimal. Worked well enough for eBay items. Pictures came out remarkably well.

  11. stunmonkey says:

    Um, you can already buy one of these ready made and mounted in a threaded filter ring for like three bucks.

    You have been able to for 70+ years now.

    I don’t get it, so what’s the hack?

  12. clark says:

    i was in walgreens the other day and noticed a 7x pair of binoculars for $9.99. Might not be the greatest, but you at least get a big piece of glass from it

  13. stunmonkey says:

    @ clark

    For 9.99 you can get a stackable set of three of these lenses designed for seven different adjustable macro ranges, already in threaded mounts, ready to go.
    Hacking is cool when it solves a problem or comes up with something new. why screw around with a more expensive, more problematic, and less functional way to do the same thing?
    That isn’t a hack, that is a (bad) solution looking for a (nonexistent) problem.

  14. Toby says:

    On an SLR (at least the “old” ones), you simply took the 50mm lens, un-mounted it, turned it so that the front of the lens was against the camera body lens-mounting flange, and held it there. This gave you a macro lens… you’d have to be about 1″ away from your subject.

    Did this for years when I couldn’t afford a decent macro lens for my Dad’s old camera.

  15. Alchemyguy says:

    @stunmonkey: One could argue that learning and doing > purchasing.

    We can debate what “hack” means all day, but the nature of the site isn’t that every single post is a transcendental modification of some existing object to create more awesome functionality.

  16. amarygma says:

    I hold my cell phone camera or regular smaller digital camera up to a microscope at work all the time when I don’t feel like going to the fancy mic plus computer just for a quick pic. And the resolution is usually better and in a more friendly format.

    I even made a video of a 48 hr chicken embryo (sorry, cell phone video is horrible)

  17. James P. Wack says:


    nowadays almost any camera has macro, but the cellphones do not.

  18. splame says:

    As one of the other commenters points out – you can get screw in filters in different strengths. The staple of filter makers like Hoya provide these in measurable grades, not something that you get with destroying a pair of binoculars.

    I do like the reversed lens macro though – this image from a 28mm lens flipped over:

  19. Mr Poo says:

    A: Not the simplest macro hack ever, as evidenced by the fact you need to have a pair of buggered binoculars lying about to do it, as opposed to just using a backwards 50mm lens (which you still need to have lying about, but it doesn’t get damaged in the process)
    b: What’s especially telling is that there are no photos supplied to show the quality attained by said optical butchery. Here’s what you get with a crappy point and shoot, an equally crappy 50mm lens, some sunlight, and a 2mm across wild strawberry:

  20. stunmonkey says:

    @alchemyguy “the nature of the site isn’t that every single post is a transcendental modification of some existing object to create more awesome functionality.”

    True, but I see that as a failing. Maybe it should be.
    I can glue popsicle sticks together and call it a pot holder all day long, and you are right, it is learning.
    this site, however, is called hack-a-day, not craft-a-day. I don’t need to see any more grade school experiments. thats what grade schools are for, not a propeller-head hacking site.

  21. lessermilton says:

    I’ve done a similar thing for non-SLR cameras using a jewlers loupe (available at your neighborhood Harbor Freight for a song and dance).

    It allows you to increase the detail tremendously.

    Also, h-a-d should totally repost a hack from 3 years ago and watch all you whiners complain that it’s not a hack.

    “o-m-g, mr. jalopy doesn’t have plans on his site, how is this a hack?”

  22. bob says:

    Guys I need some help here.
    I just bought a new pair of ruggedized & waterproof Zeiss 7×50, and a used sledgehammer. What next?

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