Macro with Extension Tubes | The Camera Shop Bryn Mawr

The Camera Shop Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania

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How to Tutorials


Macro with Extension Tubes



As an alternative to pricey macro lenses, consider using an extension tube with an inexpensive prime lens.


Here???s what you need to know:


The Promaster extension tubes used for these images come as a set of three tubes of different sizes, 12mm, 20mm and 36mm, which can be used singly or joined together to create a longer tube for greater magnification.


An extension tube (also known called an extension ring) is a simple accessory that connects between the camera and lens, working as a spacer that holds the lens a short distance farther from the camera???s sensor. This allows the lens to focus on objects that otherwise would be too close.



We used Canon???s most modestly-priced lens, the 50mm f/1.8. The total cost of this lens plus the extension tube set is approximately half that of a macro lens. Although extension tubes will work with most zoom lenses, prime lenses are better-suited for this type of photography because of their increased sharpness and brightness.

The very shallow depth of field and slow shutter speeds involved in this type of work necessitate a tripod, like the Gorillapod SLR-Zoom. A cable release was used to further reduce camera shake, and an 18% grey card was used to set a custom white balance and as an unobtrusive background for our subjects.


Extension tubes connect to the camera exactly the same way a lens does. For these images we used all three tubes together for the maximum magnification. In effect we???ve moved the camera???s lens mount forward 68mm.


We then set up our camera on the gorillapod and pointed it at a downward angle. A three-ring binder made for a handy stage to tilt our subjects up towards the lens slightly. Because of the minute amount of depth of field involved (approximately 1mm), we left the camera in manual focus and very gently slid the tripod and binder forward and back relative to each other to get the focus exactly where we wanted it. In the image below, taken at an aperture of f/5.6, note how little of the subject is in focus, drawing our attention right into George Washington???s eye.



Aperture Priority Mode: f/5.6, 1/5 s, ISO 100

Even when stopping down to f/16, depth of field is still extremely limited.

Aperture Priority Mode: f/16, 1.6 s, ISO 100





For pricing and availablity of extension tubes for your camera click here or call the store

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