A Nifty Fifty And A Set Of Extension Tubes

So what can you do with a nifty fifty (a 50mm lens) and a set of extension tubes?

You can have a lot of fun! That’s what.

Adding your extension tubes to any lens will allow you to get in close, closer, and really close depending on which tube you use or how many of them you stack together.

There’s a whole other world in there when you really get to looking at things up close. I love macro and don’t have a dedicated macro lens but these tubes will do the trick just fine.

A few things to keep in mind are:

  • the closer your lens gets to your subject the more likely you are to block the light and cause shadows
  • you need to get lots of light in there so go ahead and pop up that flash, use those stand lights, or even grab a good flash light
  • make use of your exposure compensation settings and step it up a stop or two for even more light
  • you’re going to need to close down that shutter a bit so start with an aperture of around 8 or 9 and experiment with different settings, even down to 18 if you need to, until you get the results you like best
  • using only one extension tube is good but stacking two or three of them together can really get you close, use caution; sometimes you can get so close that your subject actually touches your lens

For this series of shots of a dry yellow cottonwood leaf I sat my Canon to aperture priority mode and allowed it to choose the shutter speed for me. I sat the ISO at 100 to avoid as much noise as possible, sat the leaf inside my light tent, sat up two lights, and popped up the on camera flash. For some of the shots I used the exposure compensation settings to brighten up the image; however I forgot to note when I did that and what I sat it too.

Here’s what I came up with; I thought it would make a good visual reference for you to see what these little tubes can do. I’ve noted the lens and tubes used, along with the basic exif data under each photo.

50mm – 1/6 – f/9 – ISO 100

50mm + 12mm tube – 1/4 – f/9 – ISO 100

50mm + 20mm tube – 0.3 – f/9 – ISO 100

50mm + 36mm tube – 0.3 – f/9 – ISO 100

50mm + 36mm and 12mm tubes – 0.6 – f/9 – ISO 100

50mm + 36mm and 20mm tubes – 0.8 – f/9 – ISO 100

50mm + 36mm, 20mm, and 12mm tubes – 0.4 – f/9 – ISO 100

*NOTE: the inconsistency in the colors is due to either too little light due to shadows, or too much light due to moving the lights too close; I need to work a bit on keeping that more consistent. These photos are all of the same leaf.*

Now grab your favorite lens and try out a set of these fun tubes. When you do; come back here and share your results with a link in the comments! Have fun!


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4 thoughts on “A Nifty Fifty And A Set Of Extension Tubes”

  1. If I can ever afford a good camera, I’ll be back here pestering you with all kinds of questions. Lucky for you, that won’t be for some time. 🙂

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