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Adding extension tubes for macro work?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by InLimbo87, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. InLimbo87


    Jul 30, 2008
    Orlando, Fl
    I think I've made the decision that my next lens will be the 85mm f/1.8. After seeing a lot of the threads on here, it looks to be a great lens and I want something in that focal length.

    I've seen it mentioned several times that you can use extension tubes for macros. How does one accomplish this? What would be a good extension tube for a 85mm f/1.8?
  2. Tektrnica

    Tektrnica Guest

    Extension tubes move the lens further from the film plane/sensor, so drastically reduce the focal distance and make infinity impossible. Some people can get good results from Macro extension tubes, BUT you will get best results from older lenses (ie, ones that have a aperture ring) otherwise you'll have no control over the DoF. and with extension tubes, DoF can be about 1mm hahah

    Most extension tubes are the same. if you get one, just make sure they are metal... i know it sounds stupid, but i have seen plastic ones :\ lol

    If you really want to do Macro work, then you could pickup a dedicated Macro lenses, If you didnt wanna spend much, scour the 2nd hand market, You dont need fancy things like AF, you wont be using it for macro work so just grab an older, pin sharp nikkor or Carl Zeiss.
  3. InLimbo87


    Jul 30, 2008
    Orlando, Fl
    Thanks for the reply.

    I may just go with the tamron 90mm instead of the 85 1.8. The portraits look pretty impressive, and of course the macro aspect of it looks to be great.
  4. paulskimcb


    Feb 12, 2007
    Actually, it is NOT true that most extension tubes are the same. The Kenko extension tubes have full electronic couplings, so you can control the Aperature, AF, etc... just as if the lens were attached to the camera. I use the Kenko tubes with my 105mm VR, which is a 'G' lens, and it works great.

    The Nikon tubes do NOT have electronic couplings, and thus will not work well with newer, 'G' series lenses (and will not auto-focus, either).

    I've never used my tubes with my 85mm f/1.8, but since that lens only focuses to 1m (!), it probably would not be a good candidate for Macro work, even with the tubes.

  5. Tektrnica

    Tektrnica Guest

    "most" was the keyword used in what i said, plus, the older lenses are better if you doing that cause 1. half decent old lenses are cheap, 2. If your working with Macro, your not normally using the camera in any "auto" mode.. or atleast i dont... i want full and total control... lol

    Anyway... your best bet is to just grab a Macro lens. Tubes are good.. IF your on a very strict budget. lol
  6. I have had excellent success with Kenko extension tubes and two of my Nikon lenses: 70-200f/2.8 and 300f/4. I use manual focus and electronic aperture control. I have posted images on NikonCafe in the past from this setup. Here are two examples:


  7. Wileec

    Wileec Guest

    It all depends on your subject . . .

    What works best for macro work, depends on what you intend to capture and therefore what kind of working distance is needed.

    The Kenko extension tubes can be a real asset. I've used them for inanimate macro work, using my 50mm f/1.8 lens, where working distance can be a few inches, and fill the frame. I've also used them with my 80-200mm f/2.8 lens with bees, but I think a dedicated macro lens would work better for live objects, since you need some distance - but not as much as a tele lens typically requires. The 80-200mm f/2.8 has a really long MFD, and the extension tubes cut it down, but being able to start closer often trumps more glass, with the trade off being DOF. The closer one gets - the narrower the DOF can be.
  8. Extension tubes have no glass. They are simply spacers. They come in different lengths to facilitate different magnifications and working distances. A dedicated macro lens is great, but if you don't shoot macro often then extension tubes are an excellent and cost effective alternative. Many people love the Nikon 200f/4 macro lens. I imagine it takes outstanding portraits too. The closest focusing distance is 500mm (19.7 inches).
  9. Leif


    Feb 12, 2006
    There is no reason not to use extension tubes with this lens. Some third party ones will give you full metering on all AF cameras but on some cameras you can get metering anyway. Generally the results will not be quite so good as with a dedicated macro lens, and it won't be so convenient, but you should get decent results with care, at least when stopped down.
  10. Could someone tell me which extension tube would work best for any of the lenses on my signature below?
    I'm trying to do macro on the cheap, but I don't want to fork out the money for a 105/2.8 just yet.
    Thank you!
  11. Byron, you can't go wrong with the Kenko tubes, though I do wish they were more solidly built. Tubes do not seem to be high on anyone's manufacturing list. I tend to use tubes only with tele lenses. I remember once mounting a tube on a 50mm lens and thinking that everything was broken!!! The potential in-focus area was very limited... There are a lot of options on the used macro lens front, all of which (guess, I should say ALL) are very good.
  12. Thanks for the quick reply Rich! What I don't know what length tube to get...an 8mm, 14mm, or 27mm of the Nikon PK tubes.
    Are the Kenkos only sold as a set?
  13. The 85mm f/1.8 is a perfect lens to couple with extension tubes. Here are a few of my recent samples:

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    The Kenko DG Automatic Extension Tube Set for Nikon comes with 3 tubes: 12mm, 20mm and 36mm. Although they're not as good as a dedicated macro lens, with a 36mm extension tube, the 85mm f/1.8 has a maximum reproduction ratio of roughly 1:2. Not bad! You can also use them in combination with each other and retain all AF and metering functionality. You do lose light, however, but the meter will show the compensated f/stop.

    Pforsell once posted a macro calculator in the Lens Lust forum. Here's a link to his site: Math for Macro Shooters.

    Good Luck. I hope this helped.
  14. I believe I've seen Kenko tubes sold individually, but the set is a great deal. You see people selling them often for around $125. new they're about $175, I think, and worth it. Individually, they'll be about $75 each.

    I don't think the 8mm, 14mm or 27mm tubes will be enough if you truly want to do macro work. You'll need at least 36mm just to get to 1:2 reproduction ratio with the 85mm f/1.8.
  15. As a set only on the Kenkos, very reasonable... Good info from the other Rich (mr. Graceful...) also...
  16. Thanks Rich G! That is exactly what I needed to know, the link is also a good source for more info. I am amazed my the results from your set up, very nice!

    Thank again Rich! I'll take a look a the Kenkos.
  17. +1 for Kenko... I do almost all of my macro shots with kenko

  18. The absolute cheapest option is to find a BR-2A, and use it to flip around your 50mm lens. You have to focus by moving the camera in and out - but I find it a fun way to play with macro sometimes.
  19. i got a set of kenko-s, used them a few times and I prefer my sigma 150 2.8 macro w/o the tubes
    The tubes make AF shaky and don't get me that much closer w/ the sigma to be worth the aggravation
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