Extension tubes

Started May 13, 2013 | Discussions
autre_pensee
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Extension tubes
May 13, 2013

I was looking at getting these for someone looking to get into macro photography with a d5100 and 16-85.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/905661-REG/Zeikos_ze_etn_Manual_Extension_Tube_Set.html

I dont know much about extension tubes, other than they have no optics and can or cannot enable autofocus.

As a matter of fact, I dont know much either about macro but i thought a very very high percentage of macro shots were done in LV with full magnification and manual autofocus.

So my question is:

Is the autofocus feature really worth it for extension tubes?

Also, if somebody has experience with these, please comment. I was looking under the 30-40$ price range, and these are the only ones i could find that looked ok and fit the budget requirement.

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David Lal
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Re: Extension tubes
In reply to autre_pensee, May 13, 2013

klaminero wrote:

Is the autofocus feature really worth it for extension tubes?

No.

David

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james laubscher
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Re: Extension tubes
In reply to David Lal, May 13, 2013

If you use manual tubes i.e. tubes that dont make a link between the lens and camera, you get issues:

1) focusing is tricky and the longer the extension length, the more sensitive the image is to very slight camera movements - ideally, you need a special mount for the camera on a tripod that enables you to slide the camera back and forth until you have focus. Focusing via the lens doesn't work well at all because you have a very small focus distance to work with.

2) unless it is a manual lens, you will have to tape the aperture actuation lever in the lens to the wide open position. And this means that you dont use the lens at the sharpest aperture setting (e.g. f8).

3) shutter speed settings become guesswork because you cant take an exposure reading with your nikon camera and this type of set up.

4) all the above means it is an exercise in frustration using extension tubes.

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jamesza

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David Lal
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James, to whom did you mean to reply?
In reply to james laubscher, May 13, 2013

james laubscher wrote:

If you use manual tubes i.e. tubes that dont make a link between the lens and camera, you get issues:

1) focusing is tricky and the longer the extension length, the more sensitive the image is to very slight camera movements - ideally, you need a special mount for the camera on a tripod that enables you to slide the camera back and forth until you have focus. Focusing via the lens doesn't work well at all because you have a very small focus distance to work with.

2) unless it is a manual lens, you will have to tape the aperture actuation lever in the lens to the wide open position. And this means that you dont use the lens at the sharpest aperture setting (e.g. f8).

3) shutter speed settings become guesswork because you cant take an exposure reading with your nikon camera and this type of set up.

4) all the above means it is an exercise in frustration using extension tubes.

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jamesza

Klaminero or me?

I am an old hand at macro and yes, I agree, focussing is critical but it is the overall reproduction ratio that is the critical factor not necessarily extension length per se. I use a (home-engineered) macro rail with an accuracy of better than 0.02mm. I absolutely do not agree that electrical connectivity is a prerequisite and prefer both manual focus and manual exposure setting.

Head of (live) housefly, Musca domestica, D70, Tokina 24mm reversed onto Sigma 105mm + various flashguns

David

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_sem_
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Re: James, to whom did you mean to reply?
In reply to David Lal, May 13, 2013

David Lal wrote:

james laubscher wrote:

If you use manual tubes i.e. tubes that dont make a link between the lens and camera, you get issues:

1) focusing is tricky and the longer the extension length, the more sensitive the image is to very slight camera movements - ideally, you need a special mount for the camera on a tripod that enables you to slide the camera back and forth until you have focus. Focusing via the lens doesn't work well at all because you have a very small focus distance to work with.

2) unless it is a manual lens, you will have to tape the aperture actuation lever in the lens to the wide open position. And this means that you dont use the lens at the sharpest aperture setting (e.g. f8).

3) shutter speed settings become guesswork because you cant take an exposure reading with your nikon camera and this type of set up.

4) all the above means it is an exercise in frustration using extension tubes.

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jamesza

Klaminero or me?

I am an old hand at macro and yes, I agree, focussing is critical but it is the overall reproduction ratio that is the critical factor not necessarily extension length per se. I use a (home-engineered) macro rail with an accuracy of better than 0.02mm. I absolutely do not agree that electrical connectivity is a prerequisite and prefer both manual focus and manual exposure setting.

I agree that it is possible to live without electrical connectivity, especially when using older lenses that have the aperture ring, or for supermacro with reversed lenses. But to a newbie that wants to play macro with a G type lens I'd certainly recommend an auto set of electrified tubes, starting around $80, or to get a Tamron 90/2.8 or 60/2 macro.

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autre_pensee
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Re: James, to whom did you mean to reply?
In reply to _sem_, May 13, 2013

So as I mentioned in the OP, this is not for me and I dont know much about photography. I have to admit I did not think about aperture.

The 16-85 doesnt have an aperture ring so how would he go about changing aperture with manual tubes? Would he have to do it ahead of time, then place the tubes in?

Also, I have watched a few quick videos online about macro and most said to have a very large fnumber so increase DOF since it is so narrow and critical. So I assumed he would not be changing it very often.

Was I wrong? Or is it something you end up doing when you become better ?

Also, any comments on the particular brand and/or model of tubes i posted?

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_sem_
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Re: James, to whom did you mean to reply?
In reply to autre_pensee, May 13, 2013

klaminero wrote:

The 16-85 doesnt have an aperture ring so how would he go about changing aperture with manual tubes? Would he have to do it ahead of time, then place the tubes in?

I am not sure about these. Some non-electrified do have mechanical aperture coupling (like Nikon's original ones). If there is aperture coupling, you set aperture by the camera.

If there is none, it is possible to fix the aperture lever with a rubber wedge or such (nothing that produces dust!) at any position, but you can't set a specific F-number.

Also, I have watched a few quick videos online about macro and most said to have a very large fnumber so increase DOF since it is so narrow and critical. So I assumed he would not be changing it very often.

Yes mostly you stop down to get some DoF, but not all the way to avoid diffraction blur.

One problem is you don't see much with the lens stopped down all the time; workaround: bright LED flashlight. You also usually need long exposures on tripod or a speedlight (preferably diffused) when using the lens stopped down.

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autre_pensee
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Re: James, to whom did you mean to reply?
In reply to _sem_, May 13, 2013

_sem_ wrote:

klaminero wrote:

The 16-85 doesnt have an aperture ring so how would he go about changing aperture with manual tubes? Would he have to do it ahead of time, then place the tubes in?

I am not sure about these. Some non-electrified do have mechanical aperture coupling (like Nikon's original ones). If there is aperture coupling, you set aperture by the camera.

If there is none, it is possible to fix the aperture lever with a rubber wedge or such (nothing that produces dust!) at any position, but you can't set a specific F-number.

Also, I have watched a few quick videos online about macro and most said to have a very large fnumber so increase DOF since it is so narrow and critical. So I assumed he would not be changing it very often.

Yes mostly you stop down to get some DoF, but not all the way to avoid diffraction blur.

One problem is you don't see much with the lens stopped down all the time; workaround: bright LED flashlight. You also usually need long exposures on tripod or a speedlight (preferably diffused) when using the lens stopped down.

Thank you for the advice sem!!

I guess I'm in between and tight on budget but I might go with the electrified and hope that will last the person longer.

I found these that are a little above my price range but still somewhat acceptable.

http://www.amazon.com/PLR-Focus-Extension-Digital-Cameras/dp/B008MBDWV8/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1368465995&sr=1-1&keywords=extension+tubes+for+nikon

http://www.amazon.com/Meike-Focus-Macro-Extension-NIKON/dp/B007CTQ7JK/ref=sr_1_14?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1368465995&sr=1-14&keywords=extension+tubes+for+nikon

http://www.amazon.com/Zeikos-ZE-CVAFN-Focus-Macro-Extension/dp/B003IVZVDO/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

It seemed that zeikos was a popular brand, however, there looked to be a lot of bad reviews about lens stuck to the tubes or tubes stuck to the camera. that would be a pretty bad nightmare.

Which of these 3 would you suggest? Or any other that I might have missed at that price point or below?

I didnt find many on bhp or adorama....

Also, are 12, 20 and 36mm the standard kit?

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_sem_
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Re: James, to whom did you mean to reply?
In reply to autre_pensee, May 13, 2013

klaminero wrote:

Which of these 3 would you suggest? Or any other that I might have missed at that price point or below?

Sorry got no experience with these. I guess these may have plastic male sides (suspiciously concealed in the images). I wander if they happen to all come from the same factory with different labels 

I've got a Kenko set - more expensive but mechanically still not up to the Nikon level (but there are no electrified Nikon tubes, just AI mechanical coupling), which I think is a concern with heavier lenses only. The plastic doesn't seem to be a problem, but the springs of the chrome-plated brass female side of the mount are not as strong as steel and a gap appears upon tension...

The prices look more reasonable than thay have a couple of years ago.

Also, are 12, 20 and 36mm the standard kit?

Well, this seems to be common, though I'm not aware of a particular reason why these. I believe this is a good set of lengths for traditionally the most common 50mm primes. For shorter primes, a thinner tube might come handy (but is hard to make an electrified one; Nikon makes an AI coupled 8mm one, and the thinnest existing is an old 6mm one with no coupling); for longer primes, one may want longer ones, or photo bellows instead.

Zooms are tricky and they don't behave exactly like a prime at a particular same FL on tubes. It may happen that one can't use a very long extension before the working distance becomes zero or even negative (focus inside the lens), even at the long end of the zoom. Pronounced distortions or other abberations may appear in certain conditions.

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autre_pensee
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Re: James, to whom did you mean to reply?
In reply to _sem_, May 15, 2013

_sem_ wrote:

klaminero wrote:

Which of these 3 would you suggest? Or any other that I might have missed at that price point or below?

Sorry got no experience with these. I guess these may have plastic male sides (suspiciously concealed in the images). I wander if they happen to all come from the same factory with different labels 

I've got a Kenko set - more expensive but mechanically still not up to the Nikon level (but there are no electrified Nikon tubes, just AI mechanical coupling), which I think is a concern with heavier lenses only. The plastic doesn't seem to be a problem, but the springs of the chrome-plated brass female side of the mount are not as strong as steel and a gap appears upon tension...

The prices look more reasonable than thay have a couple of years ago.

Also, are 12, 20 and 36mm the standard kit?

Well, this seems to be common, though I'm not aware of a particular reason why these. I believe this is a good set of lengths for traditionally the most common 50mm primes. For shorter primes, a thinner tube might come handy (but is hard to make an electrified one; Nikon makes an AI coupled 8mm one, and the thinnest existing is an old 6mm one with no coupling); for longer primes, one may want longer ones, or photo bellows instead.

Zooms are tricky and they don't behave exactly like a prime at a particular same FL on tubes. It may happen that one can't use a very long extension before the working distance becomes zero or even negative (focus inside the lens), even at the long end of the zoom. Pronounced distortions or other abberations may appear in certain conditions.

Hello sem, thank you again for your time.

I have been trying to understand your points about using zoom lenses with extension tubes. How spread are these problems? Do you suggest against using tubes on a zoom lens?

Edit, I've read some more, are you talking about the formula below?

Magnification Ratio = length of the extension tube/length of prime lens

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_sem_
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Re: James, to whom did you mean to reply?
In reply to autre_pensee, May 15, 2013

klaminero wrote:

_sem_ wrote:

Zooms are tricky and they don't behave exactly like a prime at a particular same FL on tubes. It may happen that one can't use a very long extension before the working distance becomes zero or even negative (focus inside the lens), even at the long end of the zoom. Pronounced distortions or other abberations may appear in certain conditions.

Hello sem, thank you again for your time.

I have been trying to understand your points about using zoom lenses with extension tubes. How spread are these problems? Do you suggest against using tubes on a zoom lens?

Edit, I've read some more, are you talking about the formula below?

Magnification Ratio = length of the extension tube/length of prime lens

Not that they wouldn't work with extension tubes at all. But they may not be as useful as one might expect from experience with primes. I don't have much clue why this is so, and this surely depends on the specific lens. I've played with the rather extreme case, the 18-200VR, my first lens, which was claimed not to work on tubes. Found that it did work but only in certain ranges, not with long extension, and max magnification was not so grand.

Lenses are generally not designed to work well on extension, but primes seem to take such abuse better (notice the IQ suffers a lot also with primes on extension at wider apertures).

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