Extension Tubes anybody uses them for macro

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by hjoseph7, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. What are the pros and cons of using extension tubes vs a real Macro lens ? I know you lose a little light dpending on
    the extension but do you also lose the AF ?
  2. I use Canon extension tubes on on my 70-200/2.8 with my 7D (and with my 40D before that). The tubes are great, but you are correct in that you do lose some degree of AF, as it restricts your usable focal lengths this is because the internal focus changes the magnification ratio. It also affects your depth of field.
    That being said, I've used the extension tubes extensively when photographing butterflies and other animals with some success - and they are way more convenient to carry with me when I travel than a dedicated macro lens that I would not use for other purposes. If you are on a budget, the tubes are also much cheaper.
    Now that the new 100/2.8 ISL is out, I do have my eye on it, but I haven't yet been willing to make the financial commitment. If you are, it (or any other dedicated macro) is probably is a better alternative for maximizing all your options.
  3. The best low cost option is a Canon 250D or 500D close-up diopter (depending on what lens you have). This is especially true if you have a zoom lens since you will more or less keep focus while zooming.
    Close-up diopters allow AF to operate normally and you don't lose any light. Good ones are dual element and multicoated and give excellent results. Cheap single element uncoated diopters do not work well.
    See http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/eosfaq/closeup2.htm for more information on the pros and cons of using TCs, Extension Tubes and Closeup lenses.
  4. do you also loose the AF?​
    I would not worry about loosing AF, best chance of getting a great macro shot is using manual focus. Or if your lens support full time manual focus, then you can take advantage of auto focus to get close enough focus, later fine tune it using manual focus.
  5. Extension Tubes are a good starting point in to macro photography. If you purchase a dedicated macro lens later on, you can use the tubes with it to get VERY close to your subject :)
  6. Extension tubes are my last choice for macro work.
  7. SCL


    A macro lens is typically designed to produce a flatter field than a non-macro lens. QED an extension tube used with a non-macro lens will typically have less of the field in focus than if used with a macro lens of the same focal length. The best macro lenses also usually have built in extension (in lieu of needing extension tubes) often with baffles to reduce stray light.
  8. The big advantage of macro lenses is that you get continuous focus from infinity to 1:1, so the AF will find the subject whereever it is. The 70-200/4.0 IS with a 67mm (dual element) No. 2 ("500" since it brings infinity focus to 500 mm) closeup lens produces very nice images, but the range you can focus over is extremely limited and it can be hard to find the subject. This is a pain. Zoom does work to change the magnification but it doesn't get all the way to 1:1. IS and AF work, although they're not as much use as they are for non-macro work.
    I got fed up and bought the Sigma 70/2.8 macro which is sharp wide open, a lot smaller than the 70-200 zoom. The AF's a tad funky, but it works. Oh, yes. The lens hood doesn't have filter threads at the lens (as most of my other hoods do), so you can't use the provided lens cap. The hood does have 77mm threads, but you have to buy your own lens cap. Sheesh.
  9. Yes, when I use my extension tubes I lose autofocus. However for macro work, manual focus works pretty well, especially with a tripod. I rarely do macro work, so extension tubes work for me. But if I shot macro every day I would certainly invest in a dedicated macro lens....
  10. Depending on subject and technique handholding macro can be done.
    Things that help:
    Good flash or good light
    Image Stabilisation
    Something to brace against or lean on.
    I shot this one with the camera and lens lying/braced on my left arm (that laid flat on the table) using AI-Servio, IS and studio flashes...
    (My guess is that the sharpness without IS would have been comparable but I'm not sure. I didn't test that.)
    This one was under a single 60watt lightbulb, bracing myself against the kitchen counter using ISO 800, One-Shot AF and IS. Still pretty sharp.
    Hmmm... after rereading I seem to have reacted on the post that mentioned a tripod but forgot to answer the question.
    I support Bob in his advice about the close-up diopters. (500D/250D)
  11. There's no doubt that a macro lens is by far the best tool for the job for close-up and macro work, in terms both of optical performance and convenience in use. However, close-up lenses and extension tubes both have their uses. For example, I have found that the 135/2L on an EF25 tube is a very good butterfly lens, especially when used on a 1.6-factor body – with the aid of a Macrolite Adapter 72C it can even be used with macro flashes without vignetting. The 70~200/4L IS with the EF25 tube is another useful combination, and the new Macrolite Adapter 67 introduced for the 100/2.8L IS works fine with it. Of course, if you are doing a lot of long-working-distance close-up/macro work, then purchase of the 180/3.5L may be justified, and that lens can even be used with Extenders if more focal length is needed.
    It's important to remember that close-up lenses and extension tubes take a lens out of its comfort zone to a greater or less extent, and although the combinations may "work", there is eventually, and perhaps sooner rather than later, either or both of a loss of image quality and a loss of effective autofocus.
  12. Thanks for the information Bob, I heard of extension, tubes, extenders and diopters but this is the first time I came accross close-up lenses. I have a set of el-cheapo diopters that I purchased from ebay. They came in three settings +1, +2, +3 in their own leather pouch. I used these in the past with my old Canon 85-200mm 4.5/5.6 lens which I seem to have misplaced and got some pretty decent results. By decent I mean I didn't go over 4X6.
  13. Harry,
    I really like extension tubes and pretty much always carry them when I have my 70-200 2.8 in the bag. I maintain AF, the focus range is limited but you only lose infinity, who wants to macro photo something at infinity. I also use them extensively with my 50 f1.4 well the 12mm one. Here are two shots with tubes, the first a flower taken a couple of days ago with the 70-200 f2.8 and 36mm of extension, the second, some food photography with a 50mm f1.4 with a 12mm tube. For the money I do not know of a better accessory. They are a perfect introduction to macro, you will never throw them away, they are not reliant on filter thread sizes, you can use them on any lens for a variety of uses, they really are a no brainer.
    Get yourself a Kenko set for Christmas, they are great fun.
  14. I thought about buying a macro lens a few months back. My concern was buying a special purpose lens like that for something that I only do from time to time. I like taking shots of flowers at macro from time to time, but I don't do anything else that a dedicated macro lens would be good for, such as portraits. I was convinced that extension tubes were not a good solution until a friend let me borrow a set. Well, I have to say that I was impressed with the results. With my Canon 50mm 1.8, the tubes made for a great inexpensive macro solution. I manually focus and shoot handheld with a flash held next to the lens front element. It comes down to how often you shoot macro and what your budget is, but IMO the tubes are a perfectly workable solution.
    Here is a shot with the 50mm and a 36mm tube.
  15. Scott and Mike, those are some great shots, definately printable, however Canon extension tubes are not exactly cheap. I think Kenko sells a kit of 3, for close to $200, but I'm not sure how good they are. Allot of people have a Macro lens plus they use an extension to get the 1:1. Allot of the older lenses lile the Nikkor 100mm Macro and the Nikkor 55 Macro could only render a 1:2 max, so you had to use an extension tube to get an 1:1 life size ratio. John Shaw the famous Nature photographer used tubes extensively when he was still shooting film. I'm not sure if he still is doing that though.
  16. Harry,
    Yep very printable, the food shot was only 4.2mp but went into a magazine and the flower shot prints out very well to 20"X30".
    Kenko tube sets can be bought for $136, http://cgi.ebay.com/KENKO-DG-Teleplus-Extension-Tube-Set-Canon-NEW_W0QQitemZ270498273191QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLens_Accessories?hash=item3efaf417a7 , they even maintain all electronic functionality, Kenko and Canon tubes are just the same, they are just tubes after all, don't worry about quality. They are the best value for money accessory you can get if you are interested in starting macro, as you say even if you move on to dedicated lenses you will still use the tubes.
  17. I guess John Shaw doesn't use Tubes anymore.

  18. Thomas Shahan says he uses a reversing ring and extension tubes to get some of his macro images. Of course he also has a set of bellows to get 7-8:1...
  19. Anyone who recommends extension tubes with a zoom has never used a close-up diopter, and has no idea what they're missing. The ability to zoom while staying in focus is insanely great for composition in macro range. And it's not just a small matter of convenience; refocusing in macro range changes magnification, altering the composition. Again, this is a difficult thing to appreciate unless you've experienced it.
  20. "I guess John Shaw doesn't use Tubes anymore."
    Of course he doesn't. He uses zooms, he's tried diopters, and he's not an idiot.
  21. I have macro lenses 105 and 60mm for my Nikon but use almost exclusively diopters. I have a Nikon diopter and also had a Sony made for an R1. (it was lost) I recently purchased a Panasonic G1 and use the 45-200mm zoom lens with the diopter #2. I have posted some poinsettia pictures recently as well as as 'Ice on the Window' pictures Jan, Feb, and March. 17x22 prints are quite sharp. The smaller sensor means a greater depth of field plus the lens takes very little space in the camera bag. It is a real treat to use coming from a 4x5 background.
  22. "Mark - Of course he doesn't. He uses zooms, he's tried diopters, and he's not an idiot."

    I guess you haven't read his book The Nature Photographer's Complete Guide which is a classic. In this book he uses Tubes extensively.
  23. Mark,
    Not quite sure how to take being called an idiot! So I will set you some challenges. Find me a diopter that works on my 300 f2.8, then tell me the price of it. Or, find me a diopter that works on all my lenses equally well. Or find me a serious macro enthusiast who does not own, or is planning/would like to own, a set of auto bellows. Show me a dedicated macro lens that does not use extension in its optical formula to maintain focus at 1:1. Show me any serious macro photographer who does not include lens extension in their repertoire. Show me all these things and I will realise you are not the idiot.
  24. Calm down, folks.
    Kenko tubes are fine. They are not as snug as I would like, but they work, they are cheaper, and they come three to a set. I use them all the time, but with macro lenses, not regular lenses.
    I lost my little chart of magnification from tubes, and I don't recall the equation, but I think it is the case that unless you use a very long extension, you won't get to 1:1 with most lenses. So if you want true macro, 1:1, you need a macro lens. And it is nice to have the option of AF. However, even a modestly priced good macro lens, like the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8, costs a whole lot more than tubes. So if you don't know for sure how much macro you want to do, a set of tubes might be a cheap way to find out. What I did instead is buy a used Canon 50mm f/2.5 (only 1:2) for $150. A few months with that convinced me, so I sold it on eBay and bought the 60mm, which does go to 1;1.
    I use extension tubes with macro lenses to get better than 1:1, and most macro photographers I know do as well.
    Can't speak to diopters. Have never touched the stuff.
  25. Use extension tubes (Kenko) with a macro lens and quite often with long telephoto lenses for small birds, snakes and frogs - allows you a closer minimum focussing distance.

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