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Full Version: Macros: Close up filters vs Extension tubes?
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Hey I've been trying to scour the web for the difference between close up filters and extension tubes.. without much success. Anyone can help out here? Pros and cons? Oh, and what about reversed lens mounts?

I found some gems by the way, during my search, so all is not lost.

- Check out this guy's lighting rig using the built in flash! Ingenious! Photos are awesome too.

- Pretty cool looking diffuser, again using the built in flash

Oh finally, I found an awesome article on macro photography:
I have a friend from Spain, he is a biologist... I think... When he knew I had a 50mm lens he told me to use it with a converter... It was time ago and I forgot his advice... Just yesterday... I remembered that and I worked with the 50mm and the converter I have for the macro lens... I really don't know how this works but it is genial... the only drawback is that you need to go really close to the subject... I think for insects it wouldn't work....

Unfortunately, yesterday the weather was ugly, gray and I didn't have much light to work with... but I got a couple of pictures I wanted to show here because I realized that my shutter speed numbers were shorter with this lens than it would be with the macro... I tried with flash and it is great ... but I didn't like the highlights of the flash... That link your gave solves my problem with the flash... Thanks a lot ....

Other thing I realized about my 50mm connected to the converter is that it doesn't work automatically with the camera, you need to set the aperture manually and work with manual mood... That means you don't have any info about this in the exif data... I am just waiting for a sunny day to make some experiments with the macro and the 50mm... and see which works best.... and of course to show off my pictures with my Japanese friends, they make wonders with macros and flowers... Wink

Here is sample of what I got yesterday... Still too much to improve here... but I am happy with my first results...

[Image: DSC_2935-01pine_s.jpg]
Cool! Looking forward to hearing more about your macro adventures! Big Grin
shuttertalk Wrote:Hey I've been trying to scour the web for the difference between close up filters and extension tubes.. without much success. Anyone can help out here? Pros and cons? Oh, and what about reversed lens mounts?

Close-up lenses (CULs) have glass; extension tubes don't. Thus, low quality CULs can cause quality problems. Some Nikon and Canon CULs have double layers of glass and are considered superior to mono-glass CULs. That being said, I never had a problem with my Hoya set on he 3mp G1.

Big advantage to CULs: convenience; just screw 'em on when needed. No need to take off your lens "in the field" and risk getting dust on the sensor.

Big disadvantage to CULs: if using them on an "ordinary" non-macro lens, you can only get extreme close-ups ba stacking them, and this introduces distortions, susceptibility to flare, and vignetting.

A reverse-mount 50mm lens is like a high-power CUL. You need one with a manual aperture adjustment (and obviously manual focus) if you want to control DOF with it. Some of the Pentax 50mm lenses are popular because they can be found cheap. A simple male-to-male adapter ring should work. There are some VERY expensive adapters that will retain AF functionality, too.

Extension tubes mount between the camera and the lens, and have no glass so there is no reduction in optical quality.

And of course, there are always macro lenses. Smile
slejhamer pretty much nailed the answers.

Personally, I've tried using a reversed adapter to just reverse my 50mm f1.8 on my D70 body. Here are some samples from my gallery. Pretty interesting effect.

[Image: 320x181.aspx]
[Image: 299x450.aspx]

I've been trying to get hold of some extension tubes to extend my 50mm lens once I get hold of that., I shall try it again.
You are right ST... They are Macro adventures... so much to experiment... Smile

Welcome peaz to Shuttertalk... very nice macros in your gallery... Smile

Thanks Mitch for your explanation... I think that what I have is an extension tube... Nikon PN11 52.5...

Well, here I have my results from today ....

All pictures were taken with tripod and remote control... facing the windown...

With the macro lens.. (Tokina AT-X 90mm)

[Image: DSC_3138-01macro_s.jpg]

[Image: DSC_3142-01macro_s.jpg]

With the 50mm and extension tube...

[Image: DSC_3168-0150mm_sh.jpg]

f/5.6 ?
[Image: DSC_3175-0150mm_sb.jpg]

[Image: DSC_3171-0150mm_bl.jpg]

I don't know what to think... I don't like very much the 50mm f/1.8... It looks odd to me.. or do you think I did something wrong?
Hey this is an interesting thread indeed!

Thanks Mitch for your info.. to me, it sounds like some extension tubes might be the way to go - I hear there are some (Kenko?) which have the CPU contacts to transmit information to the camera so it can still compute all the exposure info etc.. anyone know whether that is true?

Ken, welcome to ST - and you have some beautiful macro pics indeed!

Irma - lovely shots too... the extension tube shots look great. I think I read that you need smaller apertures for macros to increase the DOF - so the f/1.8 might be a little too much...

Hm... ok I'll put down some extension tubes for my Christmas wish list this year... Big Grin
shuttertalk Wrote:Thanks Mitch for your info.. to me, it sounds like some extension tubes might be the way to go - I hear there are some (Kenko?) which have the CPU contacts to transmit information to the camera so it can still compute all the exposure info etc.. anyone know whether that is true?

Yes, I have the Kenko set with 12mm, 20mm and 36mm tubes; they work like a charm with my Canon gear. I'm sure they come in Nikon mounts too.

I use them with both the 50mm f/1.4 and the 70-200mm f/4 lenses. No AF problems with either.

The 100mm focal length is more useful; 50mm doesn't give quite enough working space but it's my best lens. Always tradeoffs...
I would prefer extension tubes if i was to choose from the two.

But its hard to beat a dedicated macro lens . :-)

[Image: bug2.jpg]

Wow, Paul... that pic is unbelievably awesome! You can see the individual hairs on the body... amazing!

Do you have any other macro lenses, or just the 60mm?
wow. Paul, that's a great shot Smile The 60mm is indeed one of the lenses I hope to get in the future Smile
I have the canon extension tube and it is perfect with the 24-70 2.8. But a dedicated macro lens is very, very sharp and is really a worthwhile investment.

If it was a choice between a tube and a filter I would definitely go the tube.

Great shot Paul - one of the best macros I have seen for some time.
Great macro Paul.... How were your light conditions?
Jules: Thanx, no at the time i only have the 60mm/micro 2.8. I used to have the Sigma 180mm and the sigma 150mm but returned both due to the fact they didnt focus properly wide open. Next Macro lens will probebly be the famous 200mm/micro.

Ken:Thanx. Yea the 60mm/micro is a keeper for sure, sharp as a razor blade.


Irma:Thanx,. It was around 9 pm when i took ít. It was pretty cloudy so the light was soft and even.

more pictures from the 60mm and the same series.

Simply stunning. Big Grin

All the shots are wonderful, but the detail and colour in that fly shot of yours Paul is incredible.
Thanx Adrian.

Bought a printer yesterday and tested to print image shown here (a4 size). Wife wasnt to keen about the detail lol.
I have some older manual macro tubes and they were okay but I bought a set of auto extension tubes and they are much better. They cost about a third of what a Tamron 90mm was going to cost and seem to be very good value, I have a set of close up filters but have never been happy with the results.

I now have a Sigma 70-300mm DG APO Macro Super II but have had very little opportunity to play. With a macro lens this big though a tripod is a must. It does let you get shots from a long way out though.
Paul.R.Lindqvist Wrote:Bought a printer yesterday and tested to print image shown here (a4 size). Wife wasnt to keen about the detail lol.

Hang it on a wall and freak your guests out! lol.. Big Grin
hehe now that would be something, maybe in the dining room ? LOL

Woohoo! Just won an ebay auction for some extension tubes (AUD$14.99 + $6.99 postage). All others I've seen on evilbay are 49.95 or more...

Obviously these ones don't have the CPU contacts so its manual metering and focus, but oh well...

So yeah... pretty happy - hope they come soon! Big Grin
hmmm, maybe I shouldn't be talking because I haven't tried either of these methods, but to me , the results of different approaches simple look very different from each other.

obviously, the technical quality of a shot like Pauls Nikkor fly is excellent, and it is a very appealing picture.
but then the very shallow DOF with the reversed 50mm adds a special feature to a picture, can be a challenge, but the results look terrific! i like a somewhat abstract approach to photography and how often a picture is a piece of art much rather then document.

I am NOT judging and love Pauls picture, just think that in there is a lot more to a side by side comparison of these pictures then technical quality.

ALL lovely pictures, hope I can catch up soon :-)

Hey Jules,

Have those extension tubes arrived yet? Got any shots to show us? Big Grin
Hey Adrian... in fact they did. I had a quick play, but was a little disappointed.

They fit perfectly and do the job, but with the lenses that I have (Nikon 18-55 and 55-200), there is no manual aperture ring. When I take the lens off, I notice that there's a little spring loaded lever which controls the aperture, but the default position is stopped down fully (is that the right term? I can't remember) i.e. the smallest pinhole aperture. Well at least I'll have max depth of field. Big Grin

I tried the take-the-lens-off-midway-through-long-exposure-trick you suggested, but as soon as the lens comes off, the aperture closes up. Doh! So it looks that I'll be needing bucketloads of light to do any macro shots. Either that, or I'll probably have to get a cheap old lens with a manual aperture ring off ebay. Or a 60mm Nikkor micro. Or maybe a 90mm Tamron SP. Big Grin

Having said that, I've only had the chance to play with it at night, hence not enough light... But I will try it on the weekend or something...
Rats! Sad

Oh well, there's gotta be a heap of old top-quality manual 50mm Nikkor primes floating around eBay for extra-cheap, right? After all, they used to be the standard kit lens before zooms became so popular.
And the bonus is you'll get a lovely fast prime to use for normal shots too!

But having said that, the 60mm Nikkor Micro certainly seems to have a fantastic reputation (and this is coming from a Canon user who knows nothing about Nikon glass, yet I've still heard it revered by many). Paul's fly shot seems to support this as well - just beautiful.
Not wanting to give up so easily, I exceeded the extent of my MacGyver skills last night by wedging a piece of folded paper under the spring lever aperture control on my 18-55 lens. It's now wide open, which allowed me to get a few test shots in. Big Grin

I can say that it works -- it was still a bit dark indoors (~2 sec exposures) but at least I know how to use it. I couldn't be bothered breaking out my tripod last night, but I'll try to get some during the day when there's more light.

I'm just a bit wary about the piece of paper trick though - maybe I should tape it down or something, lest it fall out and get trapped inside the camera, which would be a disaster! Big Grin
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