Monday, May 3, 2010

Macro Extension Tubes

There is some amazing macro photography out there. For the lay person, macro is that super-close photography that people normally associate with insects and flowers.

However, macro lenses can be confusing because lots and lots of lenses say "macro" on them and when you use them the picture isn't as close as you thought it was going to be. That's because when it comes to the lens itself macro simply means that it will focus at a distance of less than 100cm. So if you want to do proper zoomed-in ultra close-ups then you have to invest in a decent lens that might cost several hundred to several thousand pounds.

Or do you???

There is, infact, a way to cheat. Ok, so the results aren't quite as sharp and the kit is a bit more fidgity than a dedicated macro lens but you can take super-close-ups for the grand total of £5!!!

I managed to find a set of these macro extension tubes online for £5 (although you can pay upto £150 for name brand ones). The ones I got really are "no frills" but they do allow for from decent pics. The way they work is that they fit inbetween your camera and whatever lens you are using (a 50mm works well). This moves the lens slightly further away from the sensor and thus vastly increases the macro ability of the lens.

It works in the same way that a magnifying glass does - get someone to hold the magnifying glass infront for their eye and slowly move it away from their face and you'll see the size of their eye increases dramatically. The same thing happens with the lens - the further it moves away from the camera the more the magnification.

They do have the disadvantage that you have to be very very close to get your subject in order to get it in focus AND the depth of field is super narrow.

So if you are thinking of doing any macro work I suggest using these first. At least that way you'll not have wasted much cash and once you've got to grips with the techniques you can invest in some proper kit. I took this picture when I first got them last year and while it's not a great photo it does give you an idea as how close you can get - and this was with just one of the tubes as opposed to all three that came with it!

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