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Thread: macro lens or extension tube?

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    macro lens or extension tube?

    hi everyone,

    i am really wanting to get into macro photography, but i don't have the right gear for it.
    so my question is should i get a dedicated macro lens or an extension tube?
    if you recommend a lens could you please recommend which lens? (i have a nikon D5100)

    thank you.

    Andrew

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    Drifter, Racer and Picture Taker
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    A tube will do the job (sort of) but nothing beats a true macro lens for sharpness and its flat field of focus.
    Problem with tubes, is that sometimes, the front of the lens will almost be on top of a small subject, and that scares them away!

    What do you want to shoot?
    For flowers, anything 50mm or longer will do, but if you want to do small insects, 90-150mm length is good.

    While I'm a Canon user, I know Nikon make some good lenses, but so do the aftermarket companies, and they are a lot cheaper than the Nikon lenses.

    I don't think that there is a bad true macro lens, just pick one with the focal length you want, and the price you're willing to pay and I'm sure you'll be stoked with your results.
    All my photos are taken with recycled pixels.
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom, is knowing not to serve it in a fruit salad.

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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Andrew, you don't have to spend a lot of money to get started in Macro.

    It would not be a good idea to spend $00's on a dedicated macro lens then find out the genre was not for you.

    All you need to get you started is some macro tubes, available on eBay from about $10.00 up, in a Nikon mount.

    http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/Cameras-/...4&_sop=2&_sc=1

    You mount the macro tubes onto your camera and the lens onto the tubes. The magnification ratio will vary with lens and tube combinations.

    You could also try reverse mounting your lens on the macro tubes. This will give you a higher magnification than mounting your lens in the conventional manner. You mount the tubes to the camera, the adaptor to the tubes and your lens reverse mounts to the adaptor via the filter thread. This method seems to work really well with 50mm lens of the f1.4 and f1.7 variety, the brand being irrelevant as they mount via the filter thread.


    Here is a recent shot of a Hibiscus stamen I took using a 30year old f1.7 lens reverse mounted on some el cheapo tubes.

    To put the shot in perspective, those little blobs are less than 1mm in size, and the DOF is about 15mm.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Cage; 09-11-2011 at 1:33pm.
    Cheers
    Kev

    D800 & GAS

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    Ausphotography Veteran Speedway's Avatar
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    I have these (link to Nikon tubes) for my canon these allow auto focus and there is no need to reverse the lens for good macro shots. These ones allow AF and also allow the camera to set aperture for better DOF, the cheap ones and reversed lenses do not. I still use these on my Tamron 90mm macro to get even closer.
    Keith.

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    thanks everyone for the reply, you have given me something to think about. i do like to photograph insects and some flowers here and there...

    also if i get one without auto focus, this means that everything is manual? including aperture?

    thanks

    Andrew

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    Hi Andrewvid, I can recommend the Kenko extension tube set, they give nice, sharp results with your existing lenses and are a cheaper introduction to macro photography, AF will still work and if you decide to upgrade to a macro lens the tubes can still be used in conjunction with the lens. I bought a set a couple of months ago and it got me hooked on macro, I have decided (just about) on the Tamron 90mm lens as a future purchase, hopefully not too far away. Manual focus is not that difficult once you start practising, go for it!, you'll have some fun and enjoy a whole new angle on your photography

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    Drifter, Racer and Picture Taker
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    If you use a reversed lens, then EVERYTHING will be manual, and it can be hard to adjust the F stop on most modern lenses as they don't have an aperture ring.

    My recomendation to get your feet wet in macro, is to buy a set of Kenko tubes for around $150 grey and they'll last you for many years and will work on all of your lenses.
    As has been said before, if you like macro after using the tubes, then get yourself a dedicated macro lens (which can also be used for normal photography as well) and you can still use the tubes to get even larger magnifications when mounted on the macro lens.

    You'll probably find that using auto focus with macros, at large magnifications, is just about useless so you will need to focus manually anyway, but the trick is to focus the lens to get the magnification you want, then rock the camera back and forwards until you find the best focus, then gently squeeze the shutter.

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    Member Chez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewvid View Post
    hi everyone,

    i am really wanting to get into macro photography, but i don't have the right gear for it.
    so my question is should i get a dedicated macro lens or an extension tube?
    if you recommend a lens could you please recommend which lens? (i have a nikon D5100)

    thank you.

    Andrew
    This is exactly what I was wondering about. I'd like to have a go at macro too but wondered if I should be buying a proper lens or just tubes to begin with. Now, after reading this, I've decided to get the tubes and have a go at it! If it's something that I really like to do then I can buy a macro lens later.

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    Member Nicalum's Avatar
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    Jim Zuckerman suggested to have the Kenko extension tube set.
    http://www.jimzuckerman.com/blog/essential-gear
    It's not that expensive in ebay.com.au
    I'm also thinking to buy one.

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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    I think most macro shooters will tell you ' If you're going to seriously shoot Macro, think Manual' .

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    To be honest, I don't think anyone regrets buying a dedicated macro lens....the Nikkor 105 f 2.8 doubles as a nice portrait lens as well. Depends a lot on how much cash you have to play with, though.
    I have kenko tubes, and have used them a lot less than my macro lens....although they are fun to use, work well and are handy.
    Cheers, Lani.
    Bodies: Nikon D700, D300 Primes: Nikon 50mm 1.4, 85mm 1.4G, 105mm VR 2.8, 300mm f4. Zooms: Nikon 14-24 2.8, 24-70 2.8, 70-200VR II 2.8, Sigma 10-20mm Processing: Photoshop CS5 extended, LR 3.2.


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    Member fadiya's Avatar
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    How about the reverse lens? My friend suggest me to look for it as an another option for macro photography :/ but I am not really sure what it is...

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    Member fadiya's Avatar
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    Re-read all comments and found the answer for my previously posted question thanks Kevin

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    Quote Originally Posted by trublubiker View Post
    ' If you're going to seriously shoot Macro, think Manual' .
    that is one very good sentence!

    i wasn't worried if the focus was manual as i normally use manual with my 18-55mm kit lens when i do close ups but just thought it would possibly be handy to have that feature as mentioned above, f-stop seems hard to control manually

    Thanks for all the replies everyone

    Andrew

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    Most if not all modern lenses do not allow for manual F stop setting, Kenko tubes allow the camera to set this as do the ones I linked to in my previous post, these at about 1/3rd of the price of the Kenko's. I have had mine for over 3 years with no problems.
    Keith.

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