It’s time for my Tuesday blog post and my blogging group has been talking about macro photography this week. Macro photography absolutely amazes me. I find it very impressive that a lens can be focused to make a tiny object look much greater than its actual size. I’ve wanted to purchase a macro lens for quite some time, but I’m somewhat hesitant about spending the money because I’m not sure how much I would use it.
The good news is that there is a less expensive alternative to achieving macro results by attaching an extension tube between the lens and the camera body. The tube does not contain any optical elements, and it’s purpose is to move the lens further from the image plane. The longer the extension tube, the greater the magnification. Unfortunately, this also cuts down on the light hitting the sensor, so a longer exposure time most likely will be required. The ability to focus to infinity is also lost in this process.
There are a number of extension tubes on the market these days. Check out Amazon, Ebay, B&H, Adorama, and your local camera store to find the option that works best for your needs and fits your budget. Prices vary from $150 down to $5.00. From my research, it appears that you get what you pay for when it comes to extension tubes. I have Canon cameras and if I purchase their EF 25II Extension Tube, I will be able to focus and control the aperture with my EF lenses. However, if I purchase a $5 extension tube set on Amazon by Bolo Brands, I will not be able to control my auto focus system or choose my aperture
Will adding an extension tube to one of my professional quality lenses allow me to achieve the same image quality as if I used a macro lens, such as the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM ? At this point, I believe that it’s possible, but I anticipate a few downsides with the extension tubes, especially the cheaper ones. I mentioned above that a longer than normal exposure time will most likely be needed. Since I generally handhold when shooting, I’ll have to use my tripod. This is not a complete downside, but it may be inconvenient at times. I’ve also heard of larger lenses falling off the cheaper extension tubes and that is something that I certainly don’t want to risk with my expensive lenses.
I’m willing to give extension tubes a chance while keeping these limitations in mind so I’ve ordered a set from Amazon.com. If I like working with them, then I might invest in a better quality set or one of Canon’s excellent macro lenses.