Canon Filter vs Extension Tubes.

Discussion in 'Macro' started by phil_burt, Nov 25, 2016.

  1. Good Morning,
    Trying to get to do a little Macro on the cheap as I doubt I will do much. I shoot with a Fuji XT-2 and have several lenses. (10-24mm - 56mm - 18-135mm). If I remember correctly Canon makes a magnification filter that can go on just about anything? I am wanting to get some opinions on using this vs Extension Tubes. I can get 2 tubes for the XT-2 for about $170.00+ and I am guessing the Canon filter is near that same price. Fuji does make a 60 mm Macro which gives 1/2 life size but that lens is about $600.
    All I want to do is play a little if I like it I may go for the lens (there is rumors another Fujii macro is on the way).
    Thanking you all in advance for any opinions.
    phil burt
    benton, ky
  2. SCL


    If you're on the cheap just get a few diopter lenses +1, +2, +3. They are stackable so you could end up with the equivalent of a +6. A lot cheaper than the options you mention.
  3. Short answer: there's no real substitute for a genuine, made-to-be macro lens.
    Long answer: for lots of purposes even the close-up lenses (diopters) are surprisingly good.
    Cheap, but automatic, link plastic extension tubes can be got for less than $20 on eBay (link), but they would probably be best for occasional and casual use.
    Here is an old, but still relevant discussion of different close-up methods and their potential quality.
  4. Another vote for the diopter lenses. They screw on like a filter and as mentioned above, they can be stacked. I used to have a set of Hoyas and they were quite good for the money. I used them on a 50mm f1.8 Nikon lens. Don't look for focus across the frame with these, but they are relatively inexpensive and do a good job.
  5. Diopter lenses can be found as single element or achromatic ones (2 element) which in theory should deliver a sharper image. - Personally I am going nuts if urged to work with a single element linen tester but a macro diopter lens isn't worse than reading glasses you 'd put on your eyes. - Zeiss & Nikon ring a bell as manufacturers of achromatic diopter lenses; I hadn't heard of Canon so far.
    If you use extension tubes with a zoom, zooming will influence your focusing range - Closer at the wide end. Diopters permit zooming as usual within their focusing range.
    I would not(!) buy the Fuji 60mm macro. Reviewers criticized it's focusing speed already on the 1st generation of bodies. - IMHO you need a bit of AF speed since you are shaking backwards and forward to a really significant extent while attempting to handhold a macro shot, which can mean you'll need several focusing attempts to get something.
    IDK how the X-T2 phase detection AF behaves but the X-E1's contrast AF already gets on my nerves when it sluggishly goes through the focusing range at the long end of the 50 -230mm around infinity.
    The drawback of extension tubes: you'll collect dust on your sensor while removing / inserting them. - But you can get a set of 2 AF & everything coupling tubes for 24 Euro on Amazon, so I'd probably buy those instead of an achromatic diopter, since screwing in filters is slower than inserting extension tubes and they should be the optically better solution.
    I might own 3 sets of mechanical only extension tubes for k-mount by now but have rarely used them. I never took a shot with my Pentacon bellows yet. I am sure I dabbled with the 3x bellows draw of my 6.5x9 Voigtländer and am glad I got macro lenses for SLRs I only wish the Tamron adapt all wouldn't cause reflections in the image center when stopped down. I am crazy enough to carry the goggled Leica M extension tube around, to approach an odd flower once in a while, although framing is close to guesswork with it.
  6. If you only want to "play a little", close-up lenses ("diopters") are the least expensive option, as Stephen says. This kind of work should not be called "macro", though.
  7. If $170 is within your budget then I would suggest getting a good used manual focus version of a true macro lens plus the appropriate adapter to X-mount. KEH still has quite a few of them left, for example, despite the black friday/cyber monday onslaught.
    Another possibility are the optically excellent Raynox DCM series macro diopters. There are two versions which sell around $60 each with a near-universal front adapter, or for about $110 you can get the kit that includes both of them (packaged as CM2000, not under the DCM moniker). Two things to keep in mind with diopters is that they behave quite differently from extension tubes: 1) your focus distance will become as good as fixed and 2) total magnification goes up dramatically with focal length of the lens they're mounted on - provided that lens is a 90mm or longer ... shorter focal lengths will give you hardly any magnification at all.
    Btw, I wouldn't worry at all about AF performance if you do decide to go for an "autofocusable" solution. At magnifications of 0.3x or higher, manual focus with focus peaking on gets me many more correctly focused shots than any AF setting I've ever tried (with sony not fuji bodies).
  8. Canon diopters, two element style, or the Nikon 5T series are useful. And compact as filters, and have nochange to your light values as an extension tube would have. I use my Nikon 5T sometimes with longer lenses to preserve close focus and get even closer. Even as used their prices have gone up I notice. But they do work and work well. See if they solve this one for you.
  9. A bargain Canon FD 50mm macro 3.5 with a tube adapter is an even nicer idea. Or the old 55m Nikon macro lens was rated highly if I recall. The gent is right that a true macro lens is designed for that kind of work and will have more options later on.. It will offer the equivalent of about a 75mm macro to APS-C I recall and you will have no trouble doing manual focus which is actually a norm in macro work. I usually use my Olympus 4/3 AF macro in manual mode shooting close stuff. Look into researching the topic via books and online and also about the use of focus rails. That is if you get the macro bug hard ( not literally BUGS. they kind of bore me as do most arthropods, excepting lobsters. I jest. Aloha, and have fun in the back yard jungle.
  10. Thank you to all that replied or looked at this. I am studying it and will make some decision. I did just find out that Fuji has added a 120mm Macro 1:1 to their lineup. This is on the Fuji page. Indicated that it could be out soon but no numbers as to the price yet. Seeing it is a prime that means it could be very useful for other stuff. More than likely I will wait to see what it is all about, I am sure it will be more than I care to spend unless the other uses make it a good purchase.
    Thanks again.
    phil Burt
  11. I have a Nikon FM3a, and I have had pretty good luck with a set of extension tubes. I also have a fitting that lets me attach one lens to another, front to front. That really gets up close.
  12. To replace the lost-by-new -restrictions pdf above:
    Hope it's readable:

    Modern Photography 1977-09​
  13. As others, I would go with close up filters/lenses as a first inexpensive/low cost option. This is what I did.
    As you want more, then you can go with extension tubes or bellows (mid cost) or a macro lens (highest cost).
  14. Phil, close up lenses and tubes allow you to get closer to better fill the frame. With tubes you loose some light. With close up diopters/filters the light loss is not significant.
    If you want good quality "achromatic" filters then look at dual element Canon or Marumi for between 60 and 150 dollars. The good Nikon dual element T filters are not manufactured any more. If you want to spend less on filters I am sure you can get what your looking for and then some for less than $50. I use tubes on my longer lenses that can't take a filter because of their size but they also work great on shorter focal lengths. Nothing takes the place of a dedicated macro lens when your shooting critters because your distance is preserved. True macro is 1:1 but to me that is all relative if the lens accomplishes what you need it to do. Your shooting with a newer system so you have fewer options available in the used market. You spent a lot of money on a very nice camera so my recommendations would be to go with good quality dual element filters or tubes that use your existing glass. Just one other point is that I would use a tripod when ever possible. Good hunting

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