What's easiest way to get closer than 1:1?

Discussion in 'Macro' started by mark_stephan|2, Mar 22, 2017.

  1. I've got a Nikon D700 and an old Sigma150 f2.8 HSM Macro, it's not the OS version. I'd like to know what's the easiest and cheapest way to get magnification that's greater 1:1? I'm thinking about buying a set of $29.00 AF extension tubes from eBay. I'd also like to know how well magnifying filters perform and can I use them with tubes? Do the tubes allow closer focusing and do I maintain auto focus?
  2. I don't shoot Nikon but the tubes should let you focus close and if the they have the connection they will let you control aperture and autofocus. I sprung for the Kenko tubes because there were too many spotty reviews of the cheap autofocus tubes for Canon.

    Extension tubes have a larger effect on shorter focal lengths and the magnifying lenses have a greater effect at longer focal lengths. I think at 150mm you would get more magnification from a magnifying filter. The achromatic lenses are higher quality than the cheap single lens filters (which is what I own)
  3. The close up lens/filters are the generally the easiest way to do close-up, and you do not loose light. With both the extension tube and bellows, you loose light and have to compensate for the light loss. I have my doubts that close up lenses/filters will let you get beyond 1:1. But with a macro lens, it might.

    To keep AF, I would go with the AF extension tubes. You can stack the extension tubes, and with the macro lens, you should get beyond 1:1.
    As Andrew said, don't get the "cheap" junk, or you will get frustrated with problems.

    Greater than1:1, I would personally use a bellows. But bellows are rather clumsy to use, and you are full manual for focus and aperture.
    Though today you can probably find a good deal on Nikon bellows. I got mine at a local camera show, complete with the slide copier attachment.
  4. You would need a +10 dioptre CU "filter" to reach 1:1 or greater with that lens. It would be like shooting through a cheap magnifying glass.

    The most economical option that retains decent quality is to use AF extension tubes. I have some Kood brand tubes that didn't cost a lot and are perfectly adequate for casual use. Make sure you get a set of tubes with the screwdriver AF coupling, otherwise you'll lose autofocus with that lens I believe.

    Don't worry about aperture compensation, the camera TTL metering will take care of all that for you. You only need to consider it if using manual flash for illumination.

    If you want to get much beyond 1:1, then your options are limited to bellows or a reversed short-focus lens, or both. In either case you'll lose AF and auto-aperture, and have to go fully manual. You can still use stop-down TTL metering however. The Nikon accessory that allows lens reversal is a BR-2 for 52mm front thread lenses. Third party devices that serve the same purpose are available, and you can get to around 6:1 with a reversed WA lens on a bellows.

    Once you start using bellows you can fit enlarging lenses to them via an M39 adapter. Used 6 element enlarging lenses are dirt cheap these days, and make excellent macro lenses.
  5. "You would need a +10 dioptre CU "filter" to reach 1:1 or greater with that lens."

    The Sigma 150mm f/2.8 Macro goes to 1:1 by itself, does it not? Even the older one. It just depends on how much more than 1:1 you want to go. Either diopters or tubes would get you a modest amount more magnification.
  6. "The Sigma 150mm f/2.8 Macro goes to 1:1 by itself, does it not?" - Ahh! Sorry, I was thinking it was one of those "macro" lenses that only went to 1:2.

    With the lens already focussed to 1:1, theoretically a 2 dioptre CU would get you to 1:1.6, and a 3 dioptre gets you to 1:1.9. But that's only if the Sigma 150 behaves as a purely unit-focussing lens. I doubt very much that it does. It'll more likely use internal focussing and effectively shorten its focal length as it's focussed closer. In which case it's pure guesswork how much a given dioptre will alter its magnification ratio.

    If the EFL of the lens shortens to 100mm at 1:1, then it will need quite a strong dioptre to change its magnification substantially.
  7. I must stop posting late at night. Those ratios above are the wrong way round and should be 1.6:1 and 1.9:1 respectively.

    They're purely theoretical numbers anyway, since that Sigma 150mm macro lens has a real focal length of something like 95mm at 1:1 (Minimum focus distance 0.38m from image to subject plane). So it appears that Sigma's optical designers have already given it a variable dioptre CU monocle!
  8. Like RodeoJoe already mentiones, usig a (cheap)Nikon BR-2a reversion ring opens some possibilities with the lense you allready own.
    Exapmle : If you reverse a 20 mm by using the BR-2A inversion ring, you get around 3.2-3.4X magnification (the exact value depends on barrel length).

    One nice advantage you get for free using this technique, you are not dependend on the brand of lens you are experimenting with, just the possibility of setting aperture on the lens and the size of the filter thread.

    Here is more about reversing lenses : http://photo.blogoverflow.com/2011/07/take-macro-shots-like-this-for-less-than-the-cost-of-a-pizza/

    Another possibility is "stacking lenses"i.e. if you use a reversal ring on the filterthread of a (moderate) tele lens you can attach another (wide) lens in reverse to it. This way you get to keep your automatic operated aperture, and depending on the combo of lenses you can reach considderable magnification levels. Main disadvantage : many combos will give you a certain level of vignetting ..

    Here is some more ideas you could dive into : https://photography.tutsplus.com/articles/a-poor-mans-guide-to-budget-macro-photography--photo-2857
  9. My experiments (posted previously) indicate that there are few "additive" components that will give a better net resolution than that available natively from a good macro lens. For example, my 55mm/2.8 AI Micro Nikkor is one of the sharpest macro (or normal) lenses ever made. Putting an extension ring on it brings it past 1:1, but the close focus is nearly coplanar with the front of the lens, making it unusable. Adding a tele-extender also brings it to 1:1, but the IQ falls off such that the realized image quality is no better, if not worse, than what I get from a cropped image using the basic lens. Adding an extension tube to other telephoto lenses of lesser sharpness never gets me any better net IQ. By comparison, the 105mm/2.8 Micro Nikkor gives by far the best net IQ at native 1:1. I need to see how well it works with an extension tube, but close focus will again become overshadowed by the front of the lens. Specs on your Sigma look to be similar, if for a longer focal length. I have not tried lens reversers.
  10. For magnifications greater than 1:! perhaps the best and cheapest option is the combination of bellows and a reverse-mounted enlarger lens. Clumsy but not too expensive on ebay (I paid EUR 22 for a Nikor EI 50 mm lens).
    Have a look at the Canon MPE-65 mm lens. It gives you the same magnification as bellows +lens but it is clumsy too.
  11. IMHO, the simplest thing is a set of tubes, although I would get good ones with metal flanges and electrical connections. I use the Kenko set. The tubes allow greater magnification at the cost of closer focusing distance. AF should still work, but not as well, as there is less light. I rarely use AF with in macro work anyway.

    I use up the the full 68mm of the kenko set with my 100mm and 60mm macro lenses. Both give more magnification than you will get. The magnification from a given length of extension is inversely proportional to focal length. However, you still will get a useful boost.
  12. A bellows is a good choice for that kind of closeup work. It will also allow camera movement for fine focus which you can not get without moving the camera a very small amount on a solid surface. Nikon made some great macro gear as did Canon. A close up diopter two element lens is also possible but they are not cheap either. ( though fun to carry in the field and miniscule). "Closeups in Nature "by John Shaw is still a great book for looking at the various lens and rail and diopter filter options and samples of what they can deliver. Film and digital have some similarities in gear even now.
  13. One of the easiest way to get greater than 1:1 is to use wide angle lenses mounted reversed. You do not get a loss of IQ like you do with close-up lenses. But there is a down side. When you reverse a lens you lose the ability to focus it with the helicoid and must focus by moving the entire camera. This is not the big deal you might think it is however. Assuming you are mounting the camera on a tripod, a macro focusing rail is an inexpensive and flexible way to focus. The wider the lens, the greater the magnification you will get when reversing the lens.

    Your other alternative is to use a bellows. Using a bellows and reversing a lens can get some really high magnifications but they are some pretty specialized pieces of equipment. Calculations are necessary to compensate for the distance of the lens from the film/sensor plane.
  14. (double posted due to frozen computer - Sorry)
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
  15. (double posted due to frozen computer - Sorry)
  16. Use extension tubes
  17. [​IMG]

    Taken with extension tubes
  18. [​IMG]
    Detail of Canandian $100 bill
    With extension tubes
  19. [​IMG]
    Detail of Canadian $100 bill
    tombob likes this.

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