Do you love macro photography but find that traditional macro lenses come up short? Or, do you just want to try close-up photography without breaking the bank? If so, Nicholas Sherlock has just what you need— a 3D-printed adapter that effectively turns a 4x microscope into a macro lens for Sony mirrorless or Canon EF-mount DSLR cameras.

The best part is, if you have a 3D printer (or have access to one, such as one in a local library), you can make the entire setup yourself for under $35 or so. For the rig, Sherlock used this $23 microscope adapted to the 3D-printed adapter, whose 3D printer-ready files are available to download for free through Thingiverse. The print requires only 45g of black PETG filament, which costs around $1 (although printing costs may be a bit more if you aren’t using your own 3D printer.

The adapted microscope is very slim and lightweight, especially compared to traditional macro camera lenses. You can easily shoot with just one hand, which can be useful when shooting close-up photography, allowing your free hand to steady a subject.

Sherlock has designed two adapters. One for APS-C cameras and another for full-frame cameras. The APS-C design includes a removable tube segment. Sherlock writes, ‘For objectives which cast a big enough image circle, removing this middle tube allows you to reduce the magnification and focus at a greater distance (for the 4x objective I tested this reduced magnification from 4x to 2.75x, and increased working distance from about 28 to 31mm).’

The objective that Sherlock uses has a nominal aperture of F4, which is an effective aperture of F20 at 4x magnification. This means you will need to shoot in very bright light at high ISO or use a flash. When working on a DSLR, the effective aperture will make the optical viewfinder appear very dark, so that’s something to consider.

If you’d like to try Nicholas Sherlock’s project for yourself, head to his Thingverse page for additional information. A compatible microscope objective lens is available at Amazon. You can view additional images of the setup and sample shots here.

If you would like to try another one of Sherlock’s projects, he also created a DIY 3D-printed 300mm extension tube that allows you to shoot 5x macro. You can learn about that project in our coverage.


Photo credit: All images courtesy of Nicholas Sherlock, used with permission

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