Extension tubes

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mark_osier, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. What brand of extention tube would you recommend for my Nikon D300. Currently using a Nikon 18-200mm AF lens with
    VR, and will these functions still work as designed?

    Also, any advice on card readers would be very helpful too.

    Thanks in advance for your advice.

    Ready to buy,

  2. There may not be an extension tube on the market that will allow VR to work when attached. You may consider looking at a 67mm close-up filter. Or one of the Micro-Nikkor lenses.
  3. I have set of extension tubes. My recommendation to you is to buy some real cheap ones first so you can see what an extension tube does before you waste a hundred or two on a expensive electronic set.
    Theory of them sounds good, but wait till you see what you get when you use them.
  4. The 18-200 is not a good candidate for using with extension tubes (focus changes when zooming, quality won't be good, requires full electric contacts to stop down aperture...). Try a close-up lens with a telezoom or buy an inexpensive old prime lens, preferable macro, to use for this purpose. Since your D300 can meter with these, it will be easy to use them.
  5. I have the same question, but have both 50 f/1.4 and 105 f/2.8
    I have previous heard that the Kenko tubes should be more flexible than the Nikon ones.
    Can somebody confirm such a statement?
  6. The Nikon extension tubes do not have electrical contacts, so they so not transmit AF and metering information to
    between your lens and camera. This issue applies to any camera and lens combination.

    Kenko extension tubes (a set including 12mm, 20mm, and 36mm tubes costing around $170) do have electrical
    contacts and let your lens function normally in most respects. The Kenko tubes work well with the Nikon 70-300 VR
    and 70-200 VR, so I expect they will work on the 18-200.

    VR is a problem with close-up photography. I have the 105 f/2.8 VR lens which has VR and is specifically designed
    for macro work. Nikon advises that within 3 feet, you should turn off VR as it is not effective. The 18-200 has a
    minimum focus point within 2 feet, so my expectation is that VR will have little value. The bigger problem with macro
    photography - particularly high magnification - is the impact of small movements closer or farther from the subject.
    Due to the tiny depth of field, any movement will throw your subject out of focus. So the normal approach is to use a
    tripod. If you are looking at abstracts or low magnification, a tripod might not be necessary as long as your shutter
    speed is fast enough. And of course, you can use a flash to reduce the need for a tripod.

    I tend to agree that thet 18-200 is not a great candidate for extension tubes. The benefit of extension tubes is related
    to the focal length. At 18-50mm you will be exceptionally close to the subject if you can achieve focus at all. At
    longer focal lengths I think it will work much better.

    The 50 f/1.4 and the 105 f/2.8 should work great with extension tubes. In fact, they are ideal. The 50mm lens will
    probably use a 25 or 27mm tube to get around 1:1 magnification. The disadvantage is you will be within a couple of
    inches of your subject, but for static subjects on a tripod, you will be fine.. The 105 lens is probably the ideal lens for
    extension tubes as you get a little more working distance. Extension tubes are proportional to the focal length of the
    lens, so 20mm of extension makes more difference in magnification for a 50mm lens than a 105mm lens. There is a
    balance between working distance and magnification, and most people prefer to have as much working distance as
    possible for a given level of magnification.

    A couple of added thoughts. Extension tubes reduce the light to the point where AF may not be possible. Hunting
    is common and will quickly drain a battery. So in practice, manual focus may be necessary. In fact, Kenko says
    their lenses do not AF with AF-S lenses. Manual focus is also useful to achieve the precise focus required for high

    Extension tubes are not just for macro. One of my favorite uses is with butterflies. I have a larger subject but need
    to be closer to fill the frame. A 20 mm extension tube on a 70-200 lens reduces the minimum focus distance from
    nearly 5 feet to around 3 feet, enabling me to fill the frame while still giving the subject room to not scare it away.
    The same approach can be used for large flowers like roses. My wife has some wonderful images with the 70-300
    VR lens using a 20mm extension tube.

    Extension tubes are a very good all purpose tool. I do recommend you give them a try.
  7. Mark,

    If you tell us what you're trying to photograph it will help give you better advice.

    I am one who thinks buying the older macro Manual Focus lenses (which are available pretty cheap) is a great way to go.
  8. Thanks to everyone that responded, I really appreciate your input.

    I'm just looking to have the ability to do better close-up work with flowers & bugs, etc. This being my first look into "tubes" I needed to get some advice from those with much more know-how than I have.....and boy did I hit the jackpot.

    Looks like a new (or used) lens will be an asset if I get some tubes, and since I try to shoot most all my nature shots in manual it looks like I have a few options that can be helpful. I do like the idea of having some zoom available so I'll start shopping around to see what's out there. I also like the idea of the older Marco lenses because I do have some experience with them....even if it was over 25 years ago. :-(

    One last question: If I do go with a lens that has a zoom would you suggest going to a 70-300mm or use one with a lower and shorter scale like 50-135mm, or similar?
  9. Mark what are you planning to photograph? If you can get within a few inches of the object, you may want to get a
    Coolpix 990, 995 or a 4500. These cameras are incredible macro cameras and they are not that expensive anymore.
    I think they do a better job than the Nikkor-Micro lenses. But if you’re planning on the photographing a bee on the
    flower you better get the 105mm Nikkor Micro or you'd get your noise stung.
  10. Jerry, I do have a nice little Nikon Coolpix P5100 that does fairly well on tight shots, but would like to take pics with my D300 and a decent macro lens or a mid-range telephoto w/ tubes, for better quality pics.

    If I skip the Macro lens I'm still not sure what range telephoto would be the best option for me, but I am leaning towards a 70-200mm or 70-300mm (or roughly thereabouts) based on some reading I did this morning. Also hoping to get one with a low F stop, something like a 2.8 would do nicely.
  11. Mark,

    I have a P5000, 990, and 5600. All these do much better macros than the kit lenses. My extension tube were a compete disaster. Possibly, what made them the disaster was comparing them to the macros produced by the Coolpixs.

    I have a D60 with and 18-55mm VR and the 55-200mm VR lens. After using these lenses, I started purchasing the older prime AI lenses. I have 28mm AIS F3.5, a 50mm AIS F1.8, and a 55mm AIS F2.8 Micro-Nikkor lens.
    Ken Rockwell claims that the 55mm AIS lens is the best lens Nikon ever made WARNING: BROWSE WWW.KENROCKWELL.COM AT YOU OWN RISK.

    In my opinion, If you really want to do close-up and macro photography with your DLSR, you better do it right and get a AF-S Nikkor-Micro lenses. Else you'll just be sitting there with big bills on you credit card and staring at you P5100 and it's incredible macro ability.

    ps. My 990 with a Raynox Macroscopic adapter goes almost microscopic.
  12. You really ought to buy some of those cheap tube to just see what the extenion tubes really does. They are about the worst thing you can do with a lens. 1) If your focus distance from the object is normally about 12" It's about 1 inch after you put the tube on. 2) Cuts the light hitting the sensor eriously, you need to stop up about 10 stops to get an exposure. 3) The images a just plain soft (I call that fussy or blurry, others call that bokkenism)
  13. Okay Jerry, looks like I'll get some more practice with the Coolpix P5100 I have and see how things go before dumping $$$ into a lens and/or tube package. I have read about and priced the 105mm Nikkor Micro lens you mentioned, but for now I'll take some time to reevaluate my options before jumping in with both feet.

    BTW, I've spent hours reading various stuff on the Ken Rockwell site, very informative site for sure.

    Based on what I've read here about the tubes there may be more things to compensate for than I'm willing to toy with at this time.

    Thanks to all that took time to enlighten me.

    BTW, After joining this site a coupe months back it seems I will be hanging out here much more often, I've picked up a lot of great ideas and tips just by reading some of the other postings. This is a great site!!
  14. Kind of late, but if someone stumbles across this using search ;)
    18-200VR does work with tubes, but not perfectly. Tried Kenkos.
    AF and VR are the least things to worry about, they don't matter so much. The important thing is automatic aperture and metering (these don't work with the cheap sets).
    With the whole stack there is hardly any working distance at the long end of the zoom, and no focus elsewhere. Handle with care...
    With the thin one one can still focus close and the working distance can be less ridiculous (though still no go at short focal lengths), however there is less magnification. But the odd thing is the distortion that shows up. This shows that the thing about extension tubes not affecting image quality due to having no glass (as opposed to macro alternatives such as TCs and diopters) is nothing but an urban legend. Obviously the tube puts the lens in a position that it was not designed for.
  15. Sem writes [This shows that the thing about extension tubes not affecting image quality due to having no glass (as opposed to macro alternatives such as TCs and diopters) is nothing but an urban legend.]
    Good news. Anybody I know who shoots any macro photography knows this.
    A 55mm f3.5 or f3.8 MF Nikkor is a great cheap toy that should be in every one of us cheapskates' bags...

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