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Shooting with Tubes
  
 
CGrindahl
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p.1 #1 · Shooting with Tubes


INTRODUCTION: It has been suggested by a member who came across this thread that it might be useful for those unfamiliar with the use of extension tubes if I added a short explanation of what they are and how they work, so here goes.

Unlike extenders that have lenses built in that magnify the image, extension tubes are empty tubes that simply change the distance between the camera lens and the camera sensor. If you wear glasses you've doubtless had the experience of looking through them as you move the glasses farther from your face. It changes the magnification of whatever you're looking at. This is what happens with extension tubes.

Every lens has what is called the MFD, or minimum focusing distance. When you mount a tube between the lens and the camera body, you are reducing that distance. You also effectively eliminate focus at infinity. The longer the tube, the closer to the subject you MUST be in order to gain focus. The trick in working with tubes is to find the best length of tube for each different focal length of lens you use. The goal is to have the subject youíre shooting occupy as much of the field of view as possible.

I've mounted tubes on lenses from 20mm to 300mm. My narrowest tube, the 12mm, mounted on a 20mm lens puts me so close to the subject that I'm practically touching it with the front lens element. Needless to say, from that perspective Iím generally capturing only a very small portion of whatever is in front of the lens. On the other hand, with all three tubes from a set I own mounted on the 300, a total of 68mm, I still have about a foot of working distance and am able to capture the entire subject.

I'm shooting with manual focus lenses, so I'm not concerned with whether the tubes I use allow for communication between the lens and camera body. But if you're shooting with AF lenses and want to have the camera register information about the lens and the shot, you would wish to have tubes that have electrical contacts. There are a number of companies marketing tubes with electrical contacts, the most prominent of which is Kenko.

Generally work with tubes is done by manual focusing for the simple reason that when tubes are mounted the focal plane becomes VERY narrow and can be challenging for even the best cameras to find. Yet it is important to note that the focus ring of the lens may not have adequate range to achieve focus, so you need to be able to physically move closer and farther away from your subject as you attempt to find focus. I do that by gently rocking back and forth as I examine the image in the viewfinder. This actually becomes easier than turning the focus ring of the lens, since the slight movement required to turn the ring can move the lens in relation to the subject, disturbing focus. Some folks use tripods with a focusing rail that allows the camera to slide closer and farther from the subject, often using live view on the rear of the camera to evaluate focus.

When shooting with tubes it is useful to stop down aperture, which widens the focal plane and to a certain extent counters the effect of the tubes that narrows the plane. Needless to say, this all becomes clearer as one experiments with tubes. Relax and enjoy yourself!



After being introduced to extension tubes last autumn I've been taking great pleasure in mounting them with one of Nikon's great manual focus lenses and getting up close and personal to things in my world. I'm not much of a bug person, so classical macro work doesn't attract me. I also don't own a tripod and prefer natural light, so I can't do the really precise closeup work that many on this forum do exceptionally well. I respect folks doing that work but simply don't have the patience to do that. I can, however, slap on an extension tube wherever and whenever and grab a few photos of what is around me. At the moment, at least in northern California, that includes some very nice flowers. So I'll post a few of my recent photos taken with an assortment of lenses coupled with one or another extension tube from an old set marketed by Vivitar. I'll begin with a shot I took today with the 300 f/4.5 AI-s ED-IF with a 36mm tube attached to my D700... hand held of course with the lens wide open.

What would delight me is having other members show us what they're doing with extension tubes, so COME ON DOWN. Tell us about the lens and tube, then show us what you've produced with them. It should be fun!



Shot with the 135 f/2.8 AI with a 12mm extension tube at f/5.6.


Shot with the 105 f/2.5 AI-s with a 12mm extension tube at f/2.5.


Shot with the 180 f/2.8 AI-s ED with a 12mm extension tube at f/2.8

Edited on Mar 19, 2013 at 12:00 AM · View previous versions



Apr 19, 2011 at 09:33 PM
MarkB1
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p.1 #2 · Shooting with Tubes


Lovely, Esp colour and light in 1st and last.

Mark



Apr 20, 2011 at 11:57 AM
CGrindahl
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p.1 #3 · Shooting with Tubes


Thanks Mark! To keep the conversation going I'll drop another photo on the board, this one taken a few minutes ago with the 180 f/2.8 AI-s ED wide open with a 12mm extension tube attached. This is essentially a 100% crop. Shot hand held. Shooting with tubes just about anything in my environment becomes a potential subject for shooting.




Apr 20, 2011 at 08:28 PM
Goldenorfe
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p.1 #4 · Shooting with Tubes


1st frame best, nice composition and sharpness

100% crop
tooo soft, learn to compose through viewfinder how the intended image will appear



Apr 20, 2011 at 08:40 PM
Rinie Hoff
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p.1 #5 · Shooting with Tubes


CGrindahl wrote:

Thanks Mark! To keep the conversation going I'll drop another photo on the board, this one taken a few minutes ago with the 180 f/2.8 AI-s ED wide open with a 12mm extension tube attached. This is essentially a 100% crop. Shot hand held. Shooting with tubes just about anything in my environment becomes a potential subject for shooting.

http://lh4.googleusercontent.com/_YajwMTB6j0w/Ta9BKLNYSCI/AAAAAAAAHL8/dlO6C3zLpTk/180.12.FlowersInARow02Close.jpg



Hi Curtis, I don't even know what kind of flower this is, but then I live in a diferent part of the world. Terrific flower shots, really amazing!
You're right, shooting with tubes is a different experience again.

I'll add a Dandelion to the thread, taken with a D700, a 105mm 2.5 Ai-s and a 20mm tube attached.









Apr 20, 2011 at 08:47 PM
CGrindahl
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p.1 #6 · Shooting with Tubes


Goldenorfe wrote:
1st frame best, nice composition and sharpness

100% crop
tooo soft, learn to compose through viewfinder how the intended image will appear


I don't believe in rules when it comes to photography, for better or worse.

Composing through a viewfinder is not a very effective way of shooting without a tripod and I don't own a tripod. I like to ramble through space and take photos as I go. As I said in my opening post I'm not proposing this as classical macro work, but simply an alternative way to look at the world. Everything I post is hand held and while I too look for critical sharpness, clearly I don't bring a macro shooters eye to the venture. Perhaps with practice I'll get better at this...



Apr 20, 2011 at 09:02 PM
CGrindahl
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p.1 #7 · Shooting with Tubes


Hi Rinie! Nice to see you here and love the dandelion shot. The 105 does everything well. Glad you have it in your kit.


Apr 20, 2011 at 09:04 PM
Tom Hicks
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p.1 #8 · Shooting with Tubes


Excellent post Curtis, here are a few I took with my Nikkor 500 f4 P and some tubes . Sorry I went buggy on you, I'll do some flowers this week . This looks like a good sticky thread for a while.

Tom




  NIKON D200    500mm    f/4.0    1/750s    200 ISO    -1.0 EV  






  NIKON D200    500mm    f/4.0    1/320s    200 ISO    0.0 EV  






  NIKON D200    500mm    f/4.0    1/320s    200 ISO    0.0 EV  






  NIKON D200    500mm    f/4.0    1/400s    200 ISO    0.0 EV  




Apr 20, 2011 at 09:47 PM
CGrindahl
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p.1 #9 · Shooting with Tubes


I've no objection to bugs Tom, just not where my camera tends to point. I always love seeing other people's work, especially images like these that put the critters in a wider environment. Those dragon flies are quite stunning. Let's see what others have to contribute to this conversation...


Apr 20, 2011 at 09:56 PM
CampX
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p.1 #10 · Shooting with Tubes


Here is one of mine! Yashica 35-70mm @70mm, with 36mm + 12mm extension tubes, on a 7D body.......and as a disclaimer, these are hand-held, LiveView focusing at 10x's on the screen. I too RARELY use a tripod, and 'wing' it!








Apr 20, 2011 at 11:55 PM
 

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CGrindahl
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p.1 #11 · Shooting with Tubes


That is very sweet. Love the colors and bokeh is like butter. I've not tried tubes on any of the MF zoom lenses I own. In fact, I have a 35-70 f/3.5 AI on its way to me. I'll have to give it a try. My guess is the 50-135 f/3.5 AI-s would enjoy the experience as well. Thanks for sharing your work.


Apr 21, 2011 at 12:10 AM
CGrindahl
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p.1 #12 · Shooting with Tubes


Here's a shot I took last autumn shortly after picking up a set of extension tubes. I was mounting them on all of my lenses as I learned how best to use them. In this instance I'd mounted a 20mm tube on Nikon's manual focus 50 f/1.2 AI-s. The focal plane in this setup is only inches in front of the lens and stopping down didn't give me much in the way of depth of field. I was wandering around Sausalito when I saw this rusted bolt and thought I'd give it a try... I do enjoy rust! I post this simply to demonstrate that tubes don't require flowers... or bugs for that matter.



Without a tripod and with such a narrow focal plane the best I can do is slowly rock back and forth until what appears in the viewfinder seems sharp. Even pausing to check the focus confirmation light is hardly helpful since the slightest movement loses focus. And yet, I enjoy doing this kind of shooting.

Edited on Mar 19, 2013 at 12:04 AM · View previous versions



Apr 21, 2011 at 12:16 AM
CGrindahl
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p.1 #13 · Shooting with Tubes


And here is another shot with the same setup... 50 with 20mm. A Jaguar hood ornament at f/2.



Edited on Mar 19, 2013 at 12:03 AM · View previous versions



Apr 21, 2011 at 12:23 AM
CampX
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p.1 #14 · Shooting with Tubes


Kool shots! I use the 'rock back and forth' method to focus also... more like every breath or heartbeat causes the focal plane to be in or out of focus!









Apr 21, 2011 at 03:43 AM
CGrindahl
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p.1 #15 · Shooting with Tubes


Here's an early photo taken with tubes as I first experimented with them. This was shot with the 50 f/1.2 AI-s, another of Nikon's gorgeous manual focus lenses, with a 20mm extension tube attached. That setup gave me about a three or four inch working distance and a focal plane that was razor thin even at f/4. I was fortunate I wasn't blocking the light as I leaned over this fern.



Edited on Mar 19, 2013 at 12:02 AM · View previous versions



Apr 21, 2011 at 03:37 PM
CGrindahl
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p.1 #16 · Shooting with Tubes


I was out today and for the first time stacked tubes, the 12mm and 36mm, mounted on the Nikon manual focus 180 f/2.8 AI-s ED, creating a focal plane that is razor thin, especially wide open as happened with this shot. Shooting handheld with this much gear hanging in front of me, getting critical sharpness was a challenge. In fact, this is the only one of five or six shots that achieved it. Of course, this ladybug had no interest in standing still, or even remaining on the top of the leaf. It was everywhere! But I love this shot. It is un-cropped, merely reduced in size, converted from RAW to JPG and treated with a modest pass of Smart Sharpen. Tubes rock!



Edited on Mar 19, 2013 at 12:02 AM · View previous versions



Apr 21, 2011 at 08:57 PM
birdied
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p.1 #17 · Shooting with Tubes


Wonderful shots !! I will see what I can post , as tubes is what I mainly shoot with.


Apr 21, 2011 at 08:59 PM
Jimmy D
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p.1 #18 · Shooting with Tubes


I took these shots below as a request to see how a 50 mm would work with a nikon pk-13 ext tube.

These are quick and dirty just for demonstration, 3 images with the 50 1.4 Ais with the PK-13 ext tube, I did them at three different apertures. Depending on focus, I was between 2-5 inches from the subject, still leaving plenty of room. The first image at f1.4 has kind of a cool soft focus glow to it.



#1 @ f1.4







#2 @ f4






#3 @ f8




Jim

Edited on Aug 21, 2011 at 07:49 PM · View previous versions



Apr 21, 2011 at 09:02 PM
CGrindahl
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p.1 #19 · Shooting with Tubes


And this was shot at f/4 with only one tube mounted on the 180, a 36mm tube. This was cropped and re-sized.



Edited on Mar 19, 2013 at 12:05 AM · View previous versions



Apr 21, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Jimmy D
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p.1 #20 · Shooting with Tubes


CGrindahl wrote:
I was fortunate I wasn't blocking the light as I leaned over this fern



Love the light on the fern, very nice

Jim



Apr 21, 2011 at 09:07 PM
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