Diopters vs. extension tubes

Started 3 weeks ago | Discussions thread
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Paul Pasco
Paul Pasco Veteran Member • Posts: 7,087
Diopters vs. extension tubes
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I will make this as brief as possible. I have tried the tubes and found it is difficult to make a meaningful comparison to my diopters without spending way more time than I want to right now. What I have found is the tubes behave totally differently than diopters and for my uses I still prefer the diopters but...the tubes are much more versatile and allow for much greater magnification depending on the lens used. I use my diopters to allow closer focussing on subjects like flowers and insects and rarely go into what would be a true macro range, as defined as 1:1 or greater. The diopters are very linear and maybe that is not the correct term but when I put say my 3T on the 30-110, the minimum focus distance goes from about 71cm to about 35cm and importantly I can use the zoom to frame the shot as I normally would, without changing camera position. The way tubes behave is that at max zoom I have the minimum magnification and as you move closer you have to decrease the zoom as well as camera distance to increase magnification. Without changing camera position the zoom almost acts like a crude focussing mechanism, which is interesting also but not what I am used to.

The 2nd factor to consider is the tubes exact a light penalty which increases the more extension you use, whereas even my thickest, strongest diopter (Marumi +5) seems to make little or no difference.

The 3rd factor which comes up often for me is that it is much quicker to remove the diopter if I need to use the normal lens range than it is to remove and replace the tube.

Finally, It is most users opinions that adding more glass to a lens is not a good thing and that all things being equal, tubes will give sharper results than diopters. I believe that in some cases moving a lens away from the sensor plane may degrade an image also so it depends a lot on the chosen equipment.

This garden season I will be equipped with both setups and will report back with some real world results. As for my preferred (for now) setup, here are two photos of many I have taken in the past with the 30-110 and the Nikon 3T. I don't know if extension tubes would have done any better. These are jpegs, slightly PPd, using AF but with my "lock and rock" method. Comments welcome.

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Regards, Paul
Lili's Dad

 Paul Pasco's gear list:Paul Pasco's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 Nikon D50 Nikon D3 Nikon D300 Nikon 1 V1 +20 more
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