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Super Contributor
Posts: 170
Registered: ‎01-27-2018

Macro lens or Extension Tube

Hi All,

 

With the lockdown, I am thinking of playing around with macro photography. I was thinking of getting a dedicated macro lens like the 100mm f/2.8, but then I saw some youtube videos of people playing with extension tubes.

 

I have a 24-70mm f/2.8 ii and a 70-200mm f/2.8 ii. Both of these lenses are fantastic especially when paired with my Canon 5Ds.

 

In that sense, is the macro lens any sharper than my two lenses paired with the extension tube? And if you recommend an extension tube, which brand would you recommend?

 

Thanks.

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Valued Contributor
Posts: 479
Registered: ‎10-21-2016

Re: Macro lens or Extension Tube

A macro lens will be sharper across the entire frame, give less distortion and give you a focus range that usually goes from 1:1 to infinity. Extension tubes are clumsy to use and give limited focusing distances.

Although you can get some great shots with extension tubes they are a poor replacement for a proper macro lens.

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Super Contributor
Posts: 170
Registered: ‎01-27-2018

Re: Macro lens or Extension Tube

Ray-UK, thank you for answering my question.

 

What if I am going to use photo-stacking? Also, it would really depend on the situation and style, by that I mean, not always I want the entire photo or subject is in focus. I find both styles are pleasing.

 

FYI. I bought an extension tube once but it did not work. I was not able to get it to focus, even when manually focusing so I returned the unit. That said, it was one of those cheap quality ones. Perhaps, getting a Canon extension tube would work better?

 

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Honored Contributor
Posts: 6,591
Registered: ‎11-13-2012

Re: Macro lens or Extension Tube


@limvo05 wrote:

Ray-UK, thank you for answering my question.

 

What if I am going to use photo-stacking? Also, it would really depend on the situation and style, by that I mean, not always I want the entire photo or subject is in focus. I find both styles are pleasing.

 

FYI. I bought an extension tube once but it did not work. I was not able to get it to focus, even when manually focusing so I returned the unit. That said, it was one of those cheap quality ones. Perhaps, getting a Canon extension tube would work better?

 


There are many good third party products- Kenko is one. 

John Hoffman
Conway, NH

1D X Mark III, Rebel T5i, Many lenses, Pixma PRO-100, MX472, LR Classic
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VIP
Posts: 9,670
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Macro lens or Extension Tube


@limvo05 wrote:

Ray-UK, thank you for answering my question.

 

What if I am going to use photo-stacking? Also, it would really depend on the situation and style, by that I mean, not always I want the entire photo or subject is in focus. I find both styles are pleasing.

 

FYI. I bought an extension tube once but it did not work. I was not able to get it to focus, even when manually focusing so I returned the unit. That said, it was one of those cheap quality ones. Perhaps, getting a Canon extension tube would work better?

 


What was the focal length of the lens?  How many mm of extension tube did you use?  It is possible to use too much.

 

As a general rule, you do not want to add extensions that total up to more than 25-33% of the focal length of the lens.  For example, only use up to 25-33mm of extension with a 100mm lens.  The reason for that is tied to the fact that extension tubes significantly reduce the maximum focusing distance.  

 

With most lenses, add as much 40-50% mm of extension will cause the maximum focusing distance to reduce to the point where it is inside of the barrel of the lens, which results in a lens that does not seem able to focus on anything.  

 

At the opposite end of the scale is that you will not begin to see any significant reduction in the minimum focusing distance until you add extensions that are more than 10-15% of the focal length of the lens.  This minimum can vary widely, depending upon the original minimum focusing distance of the lens.

 

Buying a real macro lens is much better.  Extension tubes do not always attach perfectly straight.  Stacking them up will only multiply any alignment errors associated with the multiple mounts.  Finally, extension tubes have known to get stuck on the lens that you might attach them, too.

 

There are some pretty good brands, though.  I have used a set of Kenko extension tubes with Rebel T5 with the "nifty fifty" in the past with without any issue.  I never tried to use auto focus much, at all.  I always used a tripod and Live View to focus manually.

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"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."
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Super Contributor
Posts: 170
Registered: ‎01-27-2018

Re: Macro lens or Extension Tube

I tested with both the 24-70 2.8 ii and 70-200 2.8 ii. Both lenses failed to focus even in manual mode. Not sure what happened? I checked the comment for the unit I bought and it appears to be a common theme, thus I've returned it.

 

Canon does sell extension tube, but the price is 3 times as much as other brands.

 

Which macro lens would you recommend to go with the 5Ds? I am looking at the 100mm f/2.8 IS. If I am not mistaken, this lens was released at least 11 years ago.

Thanks.

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Super Contributor
Posts: 170
Registered: ‎01-27-2018

Re: Macro lens or Extension Tube

Here is a sample I took with a few minutes ago @200mm f/2.8 1/640 ISO100. Almost raw without editing. All I did here was to crop it to a 1x1 factor. 

sunflower.png

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Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,024
Registered: ‎11-19-2017

Re: Macro lens or Extension Tube

[ Edited ]

Greetings limvo5,

 

Lens have a minimum focus distance.  Meaning (the distance) of how close they can get to an object a still focus correctly.  Might this be the reason you were unable to get clear focus?

 

EF 100 is about a foot - 0.99 ft./0.3m (maximum close-up magnification: 1x) 

70-200 is about 3.94ft - 3.94 ft. (maximum close-up magnification: 0.21x) 

 

And yes..  EF 100 Macro was released in Sept 2009.

 

 

~Rick
Bay Area - CA
~6D2 ~Many Lenses ~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~Windows10 Pro ~EVGA RTX 2080 FTW3 Ultra ~Pixma Pro-100
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VIP
Posts: 9,670
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Macro lens or Extension Tube

[ Edited ]

@limvo05 wrote:

I tested with both the 24-70 2.8 ii and 70-200 2.8 ii. Both lenses failed to focus even in manual mode. Not sure what happened? I checked the comment for the unit I bought and it appears to be a common theme, thus I've returned it.

 

Canon does sell extension tube, but the price is 3 times as much as other brands.

 

Which macro lens would you recommend to go with the 5Ds? I am looking at the 100mm f/2.8 IS. If I am not mistaken, this lens was released at least 11 years ago.

Thanks.


You would not be able to focus much more than 1-2 feet away from the lens with extension tubes installed.  The price of using extension tubes is that you lose the ability to focus out to infinity.  [You trade a focusing range of say 18 inches to infinity for a compressed range of say 8-24 inches.]

 

The Kenko tubes work just fine.  I used one (12mm?) with the EF 16-35mm f/2.6L II USM to take this photo.  [@35mm].

 

9A5BF68C-0005-440C-8B53-E8B5697FC4FD.jpeg

 

This image is actually a focus stack of about 10 separate images.  I bumped the tripod near the "top" of the coin.

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"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."
Highlighted
Super Contributor
Posts: 170
Registered: ‎01-27-2018

Re: Macro lens or Extension Tube

I thought with the extension tube, I am able to focus at much shorter distance than without? This is the extension tube I bought and returned https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01E0W26RS/ref=as_li_qf_asin_il_tl?tag=thomas093-20&ie=UTF8&linkId...

 

Thanks.

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