Howto: Reverse a 50mm lens on a Nikon D90

50mm reversed


In a previous post, I posted some ‘extreme macros’ I took with my d90 and my 50mm f/1.4 lens reversed. I’ve been asked to share the details on how I configured everything to accomplish those photos. This post will show you the items I used and how to assemble them. I will make a post in the future detailing the technique I use to photograph things with this setup.



      Shopping List

Here are all the additional items I used to reverse my lens on my d90. Depending on the lens you use, the step up / step down filters may vary, so please be sure to do a little research to find out precisely what you need.

Items required

All of these can be purchased from Amazon. In order from left to right,

  1. Fotodiox Nikon Macro Extension Tube Set Kit for Extreme Close-up
  2. Nikon BR-2A – Reverse ring Nikon F – 52 mm thread
  3. Fotodiox 7 Metal Step Down Ring Set, Anodized Black Metal. 77-72mm, 72-67mm, 67-62mm, 62-58mm, 58-55mm, 55-52mm, 52-49mm
The total cost of all these items (With free Amazon Prime Shipping) is $68.89. You might be able to save a few dollars shopping other places.


Assembly Instructions

D90 with 50mm lens reversed

Note: Do not to over-tighten anything. The extension tubes and br2a lock in place, but the filters are threaded. If you over tighten, you risk stripping the threads or getting things stuck.

All pieces in this puzzle have two ends, male and female. I will use this nomenclature to describe what end goes in to what.

Attach extension tubes to the D90

I prefer to use all three extension tubes that came with this set. You can use more, or less, as desired. More tubes means more magnification, but also means more difficulty in getting a good photo. Each tube section has both a male and female end. When connected together, one long tube is formed with a male and female end. Take the male end of this tube, and insert it in to the d90 body, just like you would a normal lens. On the tube itself is a small red dot, align this with the white dot on the d90 body (just like a lens.) Rotate it counter-clockwise (if facing the front of the camera) until it locks in to place. This leaves us with a female end to which we attach the br2a.

Attach the br2a to the extension tube

Attaching the br2a to the female end of the tubes works the same way. Note that one side of the br2a has a threaded extension, and the other has the standard ‘back of a lens’ mount. Put this end in to the extension tubes, with the threads facing away from the camera. There is no convenient dot, so I just rotate it around until it fits evenly in, then lock it in to place.

Attach the step rings to the br2a

This part requires a bit of research. You can use exactly what I have used, but there is more than likely a better solution. I had all these pieces lying around, so it works for me. Note the picture above does not match this setup. This way is a bit better. Below is the list of filters I use to attach the front of my 50mm lens (58mm threads) to the br2a (52mm threads.)

  1. The 55mm -> 52mm adapter has 52mm threads all along the inside. Attach the female end to the br2a, with the male end sticking out (away from the camera body)
  2. The 58mm -> 55mm adapter has 55mm threads on the inside too, so attach it the same way (attach the female end, so the male end sticks out.
At this point, you should have your d90 with the extension tubes mounted on it, the br2a attached to that, and two step-up rings attached to that. There should be a 58mm male thread sticking out of the very end, on which we will mount the front of the 50mm lens.


Attach the 50mm lens to the step-up rings

Here you must be VERY careful. These step up rings are plastic and as such seem a bit weak, so be very careful not to mis-thread the lens. That being said, the 50mm f/1.4 lens has a 58mm female filter thread on it for uv filters and the like. We will mount this on to the male 58mmm thread sticking out of our tube. Do so, carefully. Don’t over tighten, don’t force anything. It should screw in easily with no effort.



You should now have all the pieces together. D90 -> extension tubes -> br2a -> step up rings -> lens. Shooting like this will definitely take some getting used to, and you’ll need to be very careful not to bump the end of your lens in to things. Keep a cap on it at all times when you aren’t using it. The extension tubes and step-up rings are plastic, so they feel a bit cheap. However, since they cost very little, you can always upgrade to nicer, metal ones if you use this technique enough to justify it. Also, instead of using two step-up rings, you could for one 52mm (female) -> 58mm (male) adapter.

If you have questions or improvements, feel free to post them in the comments section. Hope this info helps.

3 thoughts on “Howto: Reverse a 50mm lens on a Nikon D90

  1. question: instead of the $39 br2a, couldn’t I use (for example) the $8 Fotodiox 52mm Filter Thread Lens? The only function is to attach the front of my lens to the extension tubes, is that right?

    • @constance, the br-2a attaches the front of your lens to either the camera body or the extension tubes. You will still need it even without the extension tubes.

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