Macro without the macro 2 – Extension tubes

I’m a day late with this. I just didn’t have time to get the images I needed for this post. This does mean there will probably be posts for 3 days straight, I hope that’s okay.

So continuing on with the post from last Friday here is another way to take photos without a macro lens. This week we are going to look at Extension Tubes.

I got my first set of extension tubes before I got my macro lens. It meant I could use a normal lens and the tubes would allow me to get closer to the subject.

I don’t understand the technical side of why they work, they just do. You put them between your camera and lens.

You can see there the tubes are in between the camera and the lens.

I have put both of them there, but you can use just one and perhaps it is something you should do when first starting. You do have to be careful to support everything as it could be easy to bend the camera mount, especially if you are using a heavy lens.

For the photos here I used my Fujifilm X-S10 and the Tamron 18-300mm lens. The extension tubes I have are made by Viltrox. There are two of them, 10mm and 16mm. It means you can use the 10mm, or the 16mm and if you put them together you get 26mm.

I got very cheap ones. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on extension tubes and I think mine cost about $28. They don’t affect the quality of the image, like a lens or filter would, so they don’t have to be really expensive.

One thing you should try to get are ones that will allow you to use autofocus. That will make using them a lot easier.

I had some with my Nikon, and I purchased the Kenko ones. They were great and you got three tubes, 12mm, 20mm and 36mm. I might have to see if they have them for Fujifilm as well, or not.

In case you didn’t realise, you do need a camera that doesn’t have lenses attached, so one you can change and use different lenses on.

So I went out to the garden and extended my lens to 300mm and took some photos of flowers. I went in too close so the camera couldn’t focus and then stepped back until it could. The photos are taken as close as I could get.

Then after I put on both extension tubes and did the same thing.

I am going to put the images into a gallery and the first photo of each flower is the one taken with no extension tubes.

You can see that you can get closer. Now don’t come down on me about the photos. I haven’t done anything to them and they are straight out of the camera. I have done that so you can really see the differences.

One thing I love about extension tubes is that you can also put them on a macro lens if you have one, so you can get even closer. I think that is fantastic.

Many people use a 50mm lens with them. I have one for my Nikon camera but it isn’t a lens I have ever used that much. I do have a macro for that camera and often use the extension tubes on it. However, if you have a 50mm then try the tubes with it and see what sort of results you get.

If you put lots of the tubes together you might need to use a tripod. See how you go.

Now I’m wondering if I had another set of extension tubes could I put them together with the ones I have now? I might have to try it.

If you are interested in this sort of photography then getting extension tubes for your camera and lens can be a much cheaper way of doing it. Ultimately the best thing is a macro lens, but not everyone can afford one. I would highly recommend these tubes as a great segway into macro photography. It is one many of us have done.

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  1. Leanne – Came across your post here because I am one of your followers. I also have extension tubes, but never really did get into learning how to use them. Guess that I should. Your right about being a much cheaper way of getting closer to your subject. I have a set of 3 , but forgot what mm they are. You have re-mewed my interest. Thanks.

    1. Hello Les, it sounds like it might be time to get them out and see what you can do with them. Fun times ahead. good luck and thank you.

  2. I have never used extension tubes, thank you for the demonstration, Leanne! I don’t currently own a macro lens…

    1. I love that you don’t need a macro lens to use the extension tubes. They are great to find out how much you might like one. Some people do incredible things with them. Thank you John.

  3. These extension tubes are great if you just want to explore shooting macro. Minimal investment. I don’t shoot macro, bought them, and found I would have wasted money on a dedicated lens. Conversely, Ellen now has multiple macro lens having found she likes to shoot close. Nice post with good info.

    1. That’s exactly waht I’m talking about Ted, it is such a great way to find out. I got some and I knew I wanted a macro lens. I love macro so much. That’s great about Ellen, sounds like we should compare notes. Thank you Ted.

    2. Mike Powell is lovely. He has so much patience, I have tried doing some photographs of dragonflies but never had any luck. That is great that he was able to help her. I’m more into flowers.

    3. We don’t have many dragonflies, and if you see one it is usually just one. They move so fast. Lucky you have heaps, sounds like she gets some good shots.

  4. Extensions tubes work great, I used them a lot in my early years, sometimes I still miss them as I’ve lost them somewhere.

    1. I’m glad to hear you agree with me, they are great. YOu can get some now that don’t cost a lot, maybe you need some new ones. 😉 Thank you.

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