Extension tubes vs no extension tubes

I know I did a post about extension tubes once before, and I think I told you that I was going to try and get more to see how they would work.

Well, I got another set, but a different brand. They won’t connect together, so total waste. I also can’t put my macro lens on the new ones. Such a waste of money. Though I can put my Tamron 18-300mm lens on it. So maybe I can try that.

The Viltrox ones I got are quite good, so I have ordered another set of those, so we will see what happens with two sets of those when I get them.

I thought while I had them on the camera I would go out in the garden and take some photos with the extension tubes and my macro lens. As I was taking the photos I thought it could be good to remove the extension tubes and take photos with just the macro lens and then compare.

For example, this was taken with the extension tubes on.

The extension tubes were a 16mm and a 10mm. It is interesting in this photo how you can see the flower is dying now.

Now let’s take a look at the image taken with just the macro lens.

The flower doesn’t seem so bad here.

I was using my Fujifilm X-T3 with the 80mm macro lens that I recently got.

One of the things that always disappointed me about the macro lens was I couldn’t get as close as I wanted to at times. The extension tubes allow me to do that. Though I suspect if I put another set on then I might need to start using my tripod as well. I would love to see exactly how close I can get.

I went around the garden taking all the photos with the tubes, then I went back after without them. I took quite a few photos, but I didn’t process them all.

I am going to show you a gallery now with photos like those above. There will be one of a flower taken with the extension tubes, and the following photo of the same flower was taken without the tubes.

It was tempting to crop some of these because I didn’t think the composition was that great, but then I didn’t want to distort the results. So there was no cropping, but I have processed the photos.

For most of them, you can see what a difference the extension tubes make.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on them. Though, you do run the risk of them not working correctly. The first ones I got were by Viltrox, but the second ones were by MEKE.

The Viltrox ones have been great, and I’ve ordered a second set, but the MEKE tubes were a waste of money. I think they were around $40 to $50, so not a lot, but a waste.

I think the Viltrox ones were around $27 when I first got them, just over a year ago, but the ones I just ordered were almost $60. I guess that is inflation.

You don’t have to spend a lot because they don’t affect the image directly. They allow you to get closer, but it isn’t like a lens where you want good quality glass to get sharp images. Though you do want them to work.

The other thing I would look out for are ones that allow you to use autofocus. That does mean they will cost more, but shouldn’t cost hundreds more.

Anyway, I think that is it. Let me know if I forgot anything.

Take care everyone, talk to you in the comments, or on Sunday.

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45 Comments

  1. Nice write up – thank you for sharing. I enjoy Macro photography. I have a macro lens that I use all the time. Using an extension tube has been a consideration as there are times, the lens doesn’t get me close enough. Now I’m thinking about it more! The comparisons were a great way to see the difference. It probably makes a difference on what the composition of the photo truly is. Thank you, again, for sharing!

    1. Isn’t Macro photography so good. I just love it. I think they are cheap enough that it can’t hurt to have them as well. I also use a close up filter which helps heaps as well. Yeah, composition is always the most important thing. Thank you too.

    1. I don’t know Marilyn, though I’m sure it is all about preferences too, I think they are a great option if you can’t afford a macro lens. Good way to get started.

  2. Interesting how much of a difference the extension tubes made. I always learn something new from your posts. Thanks. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    1. Thank you Pepper, that is always good to hear. They do make some difference, especially good if you don’t have a macro lens. I might do some photos with that soon.

  3. Hi Leanne, with my gear I have ‘electronic zoom’ when I shoot JPEG. I find it gives me a nice zoom when I do macro. Just a thought.

  4. Leanne, thank you for taking the time to show your results and comparisons. I was on the fence about extension tubes but in the very least I know which brand I will go for if/when I take that route because of your experiences. and also, thank you for the enchanting pictures of the garden

  5. Beautiful images! I happened to find your website this time, but remember seeing it (and your logo) before, probably like a decade ago. Weโ€™re you on Google+? Or, was it Tumblr? Anyway, good to find it again!

    1. Ah, thanks! Now I remember more. ๐Ÿ˜… You were also writing for dPS, correct? I remember reading your articles. I also did guest-posting with dPS about 10 times previously. ๐Ÿ˜… Have a good weekend!

    2. Yes, I used to write for them, I did it for about 3 years, but found it a lot of hard work and not much reward. How did you find it? Thanks and you too.

    3. It was fun writing for dPS, but I didnโ€™t have a lot to write about, because my niche is very small (cityscapes with long exposure at blue hour, and I donโ€™t really shoot anything else ๐Ÿ˜…). When my guest posts got published, they did bring some traffic to my website, which was good, but I couldnโ€™t continue long enough (I did 11 posts in total).

    4. I never found I got that much more traffic, maybe in the beginning, but not after a while. I just found that I had to do two articles a month, and they were so much work, and what I got paid didn’t reflect that. I decided that if I was going to write why not do them for my own blog. So I sort of do that now. That is a small niche, I love that kind of photography too, but don’t do it as much anymore.

    5. I see! Two new posts monthly is hard, I think. I definitely canโ€™t. ๐Ÿ˜… I did several guest posts with Petapixel, too, but somehow dPS brought more people to my website (although I believe Petapixel has more visitors). Probably because of dPSโ€™s author bio section is a bit more eye-catching. ๐Ÿ˜…

    6. It was really hard. I have done posts with other places too, but in the end I just couldn’t be bothered. I don’t know. It was an experience and I don’t regret doing it, but my time is done with that now. I should do some similar posts for here.

    1. I wonder if it was the quality of them, I haven’t had any trouble with light in that way. I hope you will try again, maybe do some research and find some that others recommend. Thank you.

  6. Fantastic! I just picked up a macro lens (EF 100mm 2.8L) for some stuff I want to do this summer (I also plan to use it as a portrait lens, but that’s not relevant to this). I’m looking forward to seeing what I can get with it.

    Your hero photo on this post made me think of an anenome.

    1. Wonderful Matt, looks like you will be having lots of fun this summer. Thank you, that is a funny flower, no idea what it is. It grew with a seed mix I got.

  7. I really got into macro during lockdown. The one thing I invested in above the extension tubes was a proper focus rail slider for my tripod. It just allows for that little bit more control in composition in regards to focus and subject positioning. I’ve also played around with a tilt shift lens for macro to adjust for focal plane but to be honest, that all got a bit more fiddly than I was willing to put up with.

    1. I did quite a bit during lockdown too. I don’t have rail sliders, but I remember looking at them once and wondering if I should get them. I’ve also never used a tilt shift lens either, it hasn’t really bothered me. Do you like the rail slider? What did you get? Thanks

  8. HI LEANNE, BOY I WAS SO GLAD TO SEE THIS POST ON EXTENSION TUBES! I LOVE MINE, AS AT THAT TIME AND SAD TO SAY STILL I CANNOT AFFORD A GOOD MACRO LENS. THE EXTENSION TUBES FOR MY SELF HAS BEEN A GOD SENDFOR CLOSE UP PHONTOGRAPHY ( THE POOR MANS MACRO :-). I USE A CANNON REBEL T5i, AND VELLO BRAND EXTENSION TUBES (THE HAVE THE CONNECTORS IN EA. TUBE THAT MAKES IT POSSIBLE TO AUTO FOCUS. (I WAS NOT SURE THAT I COULD PUT A LINK IN YOUR MOMMENTS TO THEM, HOWEVER YOU CAN FIND THEM ON B&H PHOTO, JUST LOOKED AN THEY MAKE FOR CANNON & NIKON (79.95 US) SET OF THREE TUBES. LOVE MINE! YOUR POST & PHOTOGRAPHY AS ALWAYS IS JUST WONDERFUL! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I love mine and like you I started with the tubes before I got a macro lens.Thank you so much Mitchell, I should do a post with them on a normal lens and show what you can do. I have Kenko ones for my Nikon, but I can’t see if they do them for Fujifilm cameras.

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