1. Welcome to NikonCafe.com—a friendly Nikon camera & photography discussion forum!

    If you are thinking of buying a camera or need help with your photos, you will find our forum members full of advice! Click here to join for free!

Extension tubes vs. bellows - what do you use?

Discussion in 'Macro, Flowers, Insects, and Greenery' started by boyscout, Aug 12, 2009.

  1. boyscout


    Mar 19, 2009
    Hope it's OK to post this here among the macro enthusiasts specifically.

    The Kenko extension tubes and Novoflex focusing rails have been calling to me. In browsing on the B&H site yesterday to check prices, I saw a Novoflex "Auto Bellows for Nikon". Hmmm. A focusing rail AND a fully-adjustable "extension tube" together for a mere $1K (!!!!), only a little more than the tubes and rails I liked will cost together.

    Question: *IF* this bellows fully supports Nikon lenses - not sure about that yet - would experienced macrophotographers agree that the more-limited focusing rail in this product is a reasonable compromise for the enhanced focal length adjustment?

    Or if you prefer please answer the question, "What's the best setup to get for primarily-outdoor macro work?"

    Thanks in advance.
  2. I'm gonna go on a limb here and suggest that outdoor bellows work, or any work that requires focusing rails is going to be a real challenge. I don't want to deter you because one of the coolest shots I ever saw was a dew covered dragon done with bellows. Two things contributed to the success of that shot. First it was unlikely there was a hint of wind and second, the dragon was too cold to move. Flowers too will provide problems unless you secure them or there is zero wind.

    Just remember that tubes and bellows suck up light galore. Couple this with the needed small apertures for dof and you can see where your exposure times will end up.

    That's only my opinion and will admit that I am not the most patient person in some respects. I've done limited bellows and tube work and only under inside, controlled conditions. If you are curious I'd just say go for it!
  3. I use tubes. It depends on what you are shooting. Bellows usually will extend quite a bit further than tubes, allowing you to get really close.
  4. Never used bellows so I can't compare but I like extension tubes for the irflexibility. I have the Kenko 3-piece set . Fits in a bag or pocket and they are ready when needed. I've used them for macro, and also on occasion for birding when the birds came too close, under 300/4 min focusing distance. Like I said, flexibility.
  5. If you like micro, the tubes are a must have. I lust for a bellows, and have seen the Nikon's for 200/500 on Ebay. Your thread does not help my suppressed NAS. Once you get to a full set of tubes, the above mentioned problems have to be dealt with, a flash helps, it can all get a bit complicated, add to this the fact that I have to use AF, and a getting a good shot is hard, but is surely a lot of fun, and when it all comes together, magic.:biggrin:
    I do envy you Manual Focus folks.
    Look here, there are many ways to get micro shots.http://www.pbase.com/solorguy/image/112843544 :smile:
  6. I once bought a PB4 bellow (which is considerated as the BEST they've ever made, much better than the PB-5 or PB-6), but seldom used it, even in studio... I found it too cumbersome...

    ...now, the extension tubes, be it Nikon or Kenko, are much "lighter" to use, on tripod or even handheld ! Not having glass lens in them, they don't "deteriorate" the QUALITY of the image... the only drawbak is that they "eat" some light and one loose one, two or more f/stops ! I bought extension tubes some months ago, but haven't used them yet... I find that a GOOD "macro-lens" is allready very capable and allows to go up to 1 to 1, which is usually more than I need...

    Just my two swiss centimes...

  7. boyscout


    Mar 19, 2009
    Thanks to all for their input. Looks like the rings / rails combo comes out a bit ahead in your recommendations.

    It has leapt way ahead for me because I'd forgotten that four of my six lenses have NO APERTURE RING! The Kenko rings have electrical contacts that maintain communication between camera and lens.

    According to one reviewer the Novoflex "Auto Bellows for Nikon" that I was considering isn't very "auto" at all - no electrical contacts. Novoflex's English site has been down for days, so I can't confirm anything there.

    (BTW, the nearly-$1K device is currently offered "never used" on eBay for $200... by a zero-feedback seller. Smells pretty bad to me.)

    TomP, re: flash, I've been re-reading Tim Fitzharris' book Close-Up Photography in Nature, and he heavily uses a Lumiquest diffuser-reflector to light his macro shots. Really EXCELLENT book, by the way, even though my edition is from the pre-digital days (it may be an updated edition now).

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.