Macro Lens With Pringles Can




Introduction: Macro Lens With Pringles Can

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*-* This Instructable is in English. Please click here for the Dutch version,

*-* Deze Instructable is in het Engels. Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie.

Macro photography doesn’t have to be expensive at all. With this DIY lens, you can reach an awesome magnification. Just by using an ordinary Pringles can … The perfect excuse for a movie night: first you chill, then you make!

Step 1: Materials & Tools


  • Camera
  • Lens – don’t use an expensive or heavy lens, a cheap kit lens or an old prime lens will do just fine
  • Camera body cap – if you still want to be able to store your body without a lens, buy a cheap spare cap


  • Empty Pringles can – the longer the tube, the larger the magnification
  • Black paper or black adhesive foil
  • Print of our convenient drilling template (see attachment)
  • A piece of old bicycle inner tube – some tape or an old sock will also do fine
  • Detergent


  • Glue gun
  • Hammer
  • Nail (or another sharp-pointed object)
  • Scissors
  • Drill
  • Compressed air

Step 2: Find the Middle

*-* The fastest way to empty the Pringles can: invite friends to a movie night! *-*

  • Print our drilling template (see materials section) and cut it out. Make sure it fits precisely to the bottom of the Pringles can.
  • Mark the middle of the bottom with a nail.
  • Cut out the second drilling template, but make it a little smaller, so it fits on the camera body cap.
  • Mark the middle of the cap with a nail.

Step 3: Drill Holes

  • Drill a hole in the middle of the camera body cap. Make the hole as big as possible, but make sure the screw system that fits the body isn’t harmed.
  • Drill a hole in the middle of the bottom of the Pringles can, of exactly the same size as the hole in the cap.

Step 4: Mount Cap

  • Glue the cap-with-a-hole firmly and right in the middle of the bottom-with-a-hole.

Step 5: Prepare Pringles Can

  • Thoroughly clean the inside of the can with compressed air. Otherwise crispy crumbs will get on the sensor of your camera!
  • Degrease the inside of the can with detergent, so the glue will stick better. Greasy crisp traces aren’t that good of a base surface for glue.
  • Cover the inside of the can with black paper or black adhesive foil. It prevents disturbing reflections.

*-* You can also cover the outside of the can with black paper or foil. Only as to make a professional impression with your DIY macro lens! *-*

Step 6: Mount Lens

  • First, mount the lens to the camera body in order to adjust the diaphragm (you won’t be able to do that later on, because the tube will be in between the lens and the body).
  • Set the diaphragm small enough to reach enough depth of field. For example, go for F=10. With F=22 a larger part of your photo will be sharp, but you’ll need way more light (or a slower shutter speed).
  • Set the lens in manual focus (MF).
  • Now slide the lens into the tube – backwards.
  • Use a piece of bicycle inner tube, some tape or an old sock to firmly secure the lens in the tube.

Your DIY macro lens extension tube is now ready for use. You’ll be surprised of the awesome magnification it reaches. Look at the details of our macro photo of an euro cent coin!



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    21 Discussions

    The lens your using is a macro lens , how much more magnification do you get by using the can with the lens backwards , can you supply before and after photos to show the difference. Thanks

    1 reply

    I believe he is using a 50mm lens. if you reverse it with a ring you will get about 20 diopters. With the tube it only increases. Actual numbers would require some expensive measuring equipment and a ton of time.


    11 months ago

    A much simpler way is to use a lens reversing ring which screws into the filter threads on the lens. cheap, effective and stable.


    11 months ago

    I made a homemade slightly telescopic lens back in 1982 out of nothing but filters, tape and a lens mount to hold it to the camera body. Roll up filters of your choice in a tube 4 to 6" long. Make a somewhat smaller tube using no filters. This one is monuted to the lens mount and taped snugly around the first tube. The first tube is a push/pull method to focus. Gives very fast shutter speeds and cool vignetting towards edges. Also try to experiment with a front door peep hole viewer.

    How do you operate the manual focus when everything is mounted? Can you still turn the lens?

    I'm not much of a photographer but I'm curious, why is the lens slid into the tube backwards?

    4 replies

    I'm thinking it has to do with flipping the lens so it is a convex lens -- I Googled that and read "A convex lens makes objects look larger because it disperses light." I think it ends up being used somewhat like a magnifying glass, but this is all just a guess.

    The convex lens theory you refer to is called "thin lens theory". "Simple" convex lenses perform equally well whether flipped or not, but they have terrible aberrations, outside their "thin lens regime". A camera lens is a complex collection of often 8 lens elements or more, some made of glasses with differing optical properties, all in the effort to minimize aberrations. Camera lenses are not "thin lenses"! That's why camera lenses are expensive. Low F-number lenses are more challenging to design; that's why they are insanely expensive. Not turning the lens around (but effectively turning the optical path around in macro mode) undoes all that wonderful design the manufacturer went to.

    I found this info....

    Camera lenses are OPTIMIZED to focus light bundles that are nearly parallel from the "front" of the lens (because the object is "far away compared to the lens focal length and diameter"), and focus them to a plane that is almost exactly 1 focal-length away from the lens (on the "backside" of the lens) to the sensor, WITH MINIMUM ABERRATIONS.

    When using lens in macro mode, the conditions are approximately reversed; the object is positioned 1 focal distance away, while the sensor is relatively "far away".

    If the lens were not reversed, it would be used way outside its design parameters. While in theory the lens would still work, the aberrations will be hideous unless you stopped it down to a pinhole.

    How did you determine which way was backward for the lens?

    1 reply

    The lens he used is from an SLR or DSLR camera. You can tell that it's reversed because you can see the threads that would engage in the camera body as they now face outwards. If you look at the second picture in the article you will see a view of the lens that you would see if it was mounted on the camera, it has the specs of the lens printed on it.


    11 months ago

    cut innertube into wide rubber bands place over lens and repeat over

    each one to increase diameter until friction fit inside of tube


    just for your information, modern lens with EMD (electric motor diaphragm) doesn't allow to select manually the F No.

    In order to do it, install your lens on the camera body, set the camera exposure mode in Av (F priority), turn the dial/selector and select the appropriate F No. as decribed on the text, then use DOF button on the camera to close the lens diaphragm, and remove the lens from the body.

    One could choose to us a PVC-pipe, in that case you can glue the body
    cap to a PVC end-cap. That way one could choose any desired length.
    Also, if one would choose two different sizes of pipe that just fit each
    other, one could change the length without changing your object.

    Also one could consider to use black chalkboard paint to color the tube instead of trying to stick black paper or file to the tube. Less chance to wrinkle and easier to apply. This way one could also try to paint the inside of the tube, making it pitch black.

    can you give more detail on how you used the inner tube to secure the lense?

    Really cool project! Do you have more photos taken with it ? I love macro photos :)

    1 reply