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Thread: Which brand extension tube is better?

  1. #1

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    Which brand extension tube is better?

    Hi

    I like macro photography and heard that extension tube will help to shot insect from a bit far distance so tht the insects wont be scared away. And I am going to buy a set of extension tube for my nikkor 105 mm lens. Just want to know which brand is better.

    Thanks

  2. #2

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    Re: Which brand extension tube is better?

    No, Jason, an extension tube allows you to actually move your focus, and camera, closer to the subject. It won't actually increase the magnification.

    For that, you need a lens converter; although the actual name may vary. This will increase the magnification by whatever is the converter strength. Often x1.5 or x2 (approx sizes).

    I frequently use a 1.4x converter on my macro lens. But I'm already shooting with a Sigma 180 mm lens.

    However, these aren't cheap; at least not for good quality, and cheap alternatives give poor results. There is likely to be some quality loss with any converter but I find that with a good converter on a suitable lens the loss is tolerable.

    Considering the cost, you may want to consider putting that money towards changing to a larger lens. It depends on exactly what you want to do, and how you work.

    Some people will suggest keeping your existing lens and improving your shooting technique. But once again that depends on what you are doing.

    Most of my macro (and I shoot over 100 images per day during the season) is for identification of species for recording. So I try to get a close shot of every insect that I find. Hence my use of a large lens, on a tripod, so I can get an acceptable shot at around 2 ft, then move into half that distance if I am lucky.

    If you just want the occasional high quality shot of any species of insect, your current lens will certainly prove sufficient, particularly with larger subjects. I need to be able to 'count the toes' on 10 mm insects.

    ps. I always remove my lens hood to reduce the scare factor from my lens being so close.

  3. #3

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    Re: Which brand extension tube is better?

    Thank you very much, Geoff. Now I know I went to the wrong direction and also thanks for the tips for no lens hood.

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    Re: Which brand extension tube is better?

    I always get very confused when people start talking about magnification becuase I see Geoff's first sentance as a contradiction. The use of the extension tube enables you to get a closer and BIGGER view of the subject. Ideally if you can afford it and if it is made you get one which electrically couples the lens to the camera. If you do not have this connection the lens most likely will default to wide open and without a manual control of the aperture you cannot close down for the actual shot ... an essential part of big CU photography. In this situation I would use a legacy lens with manual aperture control.

    To get the same view from further back, ignoring perspective consideration you need a longer lens which is what the telephoto converter does for you with a resulting light loss of one or two stops depending if you use a x1.4 or x2 converter. Depending on the aperture of the camera lens this can upset the ability of AF to work .... usually Phase Dectection can have problems when the effective aperture is smaller than f/5.6. Contrast Detection does not suffer this drawback.

    Since I do not do a lot of BCU work ... just can do it when I have the need ... and have at my disposal the three main forms of getting tight framing ... extension tubes, bellows, and CU lens .... my preferance is the CU lens to the extent that I have not used the first two options in 'yonks'

    My distaste arose back when I was shooting film with a 'set' of extension tubes and the problems of deciding which combination was appropriate for the subject, or what working distance. Back then all I had was a 50mm lens. On changing to digital I encountered the bridge camera and the ease with which with a CU lens it achieves tight framing thanks to the 'long lens' it came with.

    Translating that experience to the DSLR means one needs at least a 200mm lens with a moderate close-up lens such as a two dioptre or 500mm focal length. The CU lens has its limitations and will not get the tight 'bugs eye' shot but for most situations it works well and cropping provides the tighter view in editing. If you get a more powerful CU lens there will be distortions and 'those that know' advise against the 'cheap Amazon sets' for $10 or so. I priced a B+W 77mm mount 2 dioptre at B&H for $144 although fortunately I only needed a 55mm mounting B+W lens for $26 On the other hand I read about a photographer would recently confounded the experts with his work using a cheap set of CU lenses, so really I don't know what to think.

    That $26 lens I am getting is a 4 dioptre for my MFT camera where I only have a 280mm Angle of View lens and need it to get around 1.5" subjects filling the sensor that my bridge camera with its 430 AOV lens does with a two dioptre CU lens.

    The two dioptre lens will give you a working distance of between 20 inches and how much closer the camera lens will focus. The CU lens makes AF think that objects at 20 inches are at infinity. The 4 dioptre will unfortunately mean I will be working between 10 inches and closer.

    The key point of all my thinking with this is that 'for tight framing you do not always need to come in close' and the long focal length lens is advantagious here and a second important point is that ' for a given framing you have the same depth of field irrespective of the focal length of the lens'.

  5. #5
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    Re: Which brand extension tube is better?

    Jason,

    Before you buy a teleconverter, make certain it will work with your macro lens. Not all converters work with all lenses. For example, I shoot with two Canon macro lenses, and neither one will work with Canon teleconverters.

    While a converter will let you work from farther away, you will still have to get quite close to get maximum magnification. With practice, 105 mm is not so bad for this, but it does take a lot of practice. It helps to keep low (some bugs are much more skittish if you loom over them) and move slowly.

  6. #6

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    Re: Which brand extension tube is better?

    Thanks jcuknz and Dan. I will do more exercises on my 105 mm VR lens. After more exercise I will decide to buy a converter or not.

  7. #7

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    Re: Which brand extension tube is better?

    One solution, with no consideration of possible drawback to adding 'so much' glass to the system, is the TC to get the narrow angle of view to shoot from further back plus the CU lens to overcome possible focusing problems. The longer the lens usually the less close it can focus but I have no experience with TCs.

    The counter to AF having problems is that with BCU work it is quite common to set focus and move the camera in and out .. and possibly better becuase often AF doesn't pick what you want to be the point of focus.... single point with a small target area is good there, countered by moving the camera to get the framing you want can upset the focus, in turn countered by the ability of some cameras to select the focus point for AF to work on .... all so B... complicated these days

    EDIT ... now I see you have VR and my experience is that it works well with things put on front ... telephoto adaptors and CU lerns.
    That is another option for you though usually frouned upon ... the Telephoto Adaptor which fits on the front of the lens ... way back the Nikon TA made for the Coolpix 5000 was highly regarded if you can find one and it suits your lens physically ... but steer clear of other things, mostly rubbish, for your beautiful Nikon glass. I have an Olympus TCON x1.7 which is quite favourably regarded, then there is the Raynox 2020 or 2025 these days with provision for a screw on lenshood, I also have the 2020 which like the TCON suffers around the edges so some cropping in editing is needed ... usually not a problem with a DSLR and a small beastie.

    I bought these for my bridge camera's x12 zoom to give me 750 and 950 AoV but have yet to add a CU lens to them as so far the 2d and 4d have/will met my needs with just the basic camera lens.
    Last edited by jcuknz; 26th May 2013 at 11:10 PM.

  8. #8

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    Re: Which brand extension tube is better?

    Actually extension tubes may be what you need.

    If you have a lens 200mm or more extension tubes, by allowing closer focus, will give you a great macro facility. They have no glass, just change the distance of lens to sensor, so a cheap set such as the Kenko (c. 85) is just as good as OEM. A cheap set will enable your 300mm to focus and fill the frame with a butterfly with no problem.

    Adding a teleconverter always adds glass and reduces image quality, as well as reducing the max aperture. You will also find the camera will find it harder to focus and be slower to focus, not so good for macro.

    Screw on close up lens (most are a single lens) are a solution when you cannot change the lens, but will always tend to introduce chromatic aberrations and image quality away from the centre will suffer.

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    Re: Which brand extension tube is better?

    I have a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro which will not physically accept a teleconverter - unless it is combined with an exstension tube to allow space between the lens and the TC so that the TC will physically fit.

    The 1.4x TC will change the lens to a 144mm f/4 while the extension tube will allow somewhat closer focusing. How much closer depends on the size of the extension tube.

    The extension tube has no elements, simply air inside it. The only diffferences between extension tubes are the connection between the lens and the camera. Cheaper tubes have no electronic connection to control f/stop or focus.

    A macro lens is a lot more convenient to use for close-up imagery than using extension tubes on a non-macro lens. Adding extension tubes and a teleconverter can get you a subject/image ratio of larger than the 1:1 usually produced by macro lens.

    Tubes by the original manufacturer (OEM) and by Kenko are a good bet...

  10. #10

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    Re: Which brand extension tube is better?

    Quote Originally Posted by loosecanon View Post
    Actually extension tubes may be what you need.

    If you have a lens 200mm or more extension tubes, by allowing closer focus, will give you a great macro facility. They have no glass, just change the distance of lens to sensor, so a cheap set such as the Kenko (c. 85) is just as good as OEM. A cheap set will enable your 300mm to focus and fill the frame with a butterfly with no problem.

    Adding a teleconverter always adds glass and reduces image quality, as well as reducing the max aperture. You will also find the camera will find it harder to focus and be slower to focus, not so good for macro.

    Screw on close up lens (most are a single lens) are a solution when you cannot change the lens, but will always tend to introduce chromatic aberrations and image quality away from the centre will suffer.
    Thanks, I do have a 70-200mm lens.

  11. #11

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    Re: Which brand extension tube is better?

    If that is similar to the Canon 70-200 lens, the minimum focusing distance is around 4 ft and a 25 mm tube should reduce that to around 3 ft but that would still produce a smaller image than your current macro lens.

    Although possibly OK for larger butterflies etc, and your initial question was about the ability to focus from a greater distance to avoiding spooking your subjects.

    I started macro photography with a Canon 70-300 lens which had a minimum focusing distance of around 3 ft with a tube. That meant the equivalent of 100 mm at 1 ft which is similar to your existing lens.

    That worked reasonably well, but 200 mm is quite a bit smaller. I haven't been happy with the image size when trying my 200 mm lens with a 25 mm tube.

    So if you want to shoot from a greater distance, it really still comes down to a lens converter (preferably 1.4x instead of 2x) or purchase a larger lens.

  12. #12

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    Re: Which brand extension tube is better?

    With the 70-200 lens which is giving an angle of view of a 112-320 lens you are in a similar position to my first bridge camera which had a 35-280 AoV lens and my current MFT which is 28-280 ..... the moderate CU lens will limit the distortions people talk about ...I don't shoot stamps and coins so normally what is in the outer areas of the frame is unimportant. If you have a magnifying glass around the house I suggest you hold or tape it to the 70-200 and see what you can do with it before investing ion photographic quality glass. In case you don't know I'll mention you can find the focal length of the mag glass by focusing the sun or a distant street light at night on a sheet of paper [whathaveyou] and the distance between lens and focused image is the focal length for comparision of what you may buy.

  13. #13

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    Re: Which brand extension tube is better?

    The Kenko set has something like 36mm, 20mm and 12mm tubes. They can be combined, So for example you can get 68mm of extension, which on a 200 is a lot. Two points to note - longer extension and some reduction in light gathering as one gets with close focusing. Secondly keep your tubbes in a well sealed bag or with caps on - don't allow dust to get inside the tube, it will soon end up on the sensor. Try ordering tubes from somewhere in China, much saving.

  14. #14

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    Re: Which brand extension tube is better?

    Jason:

    Have you thought of the Micro Nikkor AF 200mm? It is an old design that is still in production, and the only macro lens at 200mm focal lengt. The lens will let you focus to 19.4" at 1:1 ratio, as opposed to the 105mm Micro Nikkor that will give you 1:1 magnification at 12". A word of warning though, you probably have to use it on a tripod, the lens is just a bit heavy to hand hold, it is not a VR lens. I bought this lens but have to return it because of that.

    My go to lens for insect is the Micro Nikkor 70-180mm, a discontinued lens that is pretty hard to find and if you can find one, selling for more than what it was selling for when it was still in production.

  15. #15

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    Re: Which brand extension tube is better?

    Thanks people all above for the suggestions and advise. I will do more exercises first and then buy both extension tube and teleconverter.

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