for macro photography, which is better, extension tubes or macro diopter filters.

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by default, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. default

    default Guest

    The price is similiar both ways. What are the trade-offs? This is for a
    Canon Digital Rebel XT 350D.
    default, Jan 18, 2006
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    Stacey Guest

    Depends on what lens is in front of the tube. Some work great, some not so
    It depends on which diopter. The really good 2 element diopters can work
    really good and you don't lose light like you do with a tube. Also a zoom
    can be used to control image magnification with a diopter which is nice.
    They seem to work well with tele lenses which gives you more camera to
    subject distance.

    Can you take your camera and lens to a store and try both out and buy which
    works best (that's what I did)? If you're trying to "shop on line" to save
    money, hard to say which would produce better results for your use.
    Stacey, Jan 18, 2006
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  3. default

    default Guest

    Thanks Stacey.

    I bought some 58mm diopter filters and have tried them with both my 18-55
    and my 70-300mm lenses. The 70-300 already could reach 2:1 without filters.
    So far they are a lot of fun and seem to be working great. I haven't
    noticed distortions in the pictures and they seem nice and bright and sharp.

    However diopter filters seem to be somewhat maligned in these newsgroups and
    some photography websites. I was wondering if I would have been better off
    getting EF12-II or EF25-II extension tubes instead which I could still do.
    Does the larger image circle produced from standing the lens off the camera
    cause problematic reflections inside the camera? Especially for the 70-300
    which is designed for full frame cameras I would be concerned.

    Buying a dedicated macro lense is a bit out of my budget presently but it is
    quite fun to see the microscopic details in items that you don't normally
    see so close and not just for flowers and bugs. There are some very cool
    photos possible from being so close to things.
    default, Jan 18, 2006
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    Prometheus Guest

    My plan is to get a macro lens since it is only about twice the price of
    a pair of Canon tubes, and focuses from 20cm (~1:1) to infinity so it
    can be kept on the camera when walking about in the field. I have used
    tubes for still life on a table where illumination and set up time
    (selecting the appropriate combination of tubes for the field of view)
    is not a problem, but want to move on from that.
    Prometheus, Jan 18, 2006
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    Don Guest


    what macro lens are you considering? I have both tubes and diopters and use
    both dependant on the circumstances. However, I am about the buy the Tamron
    90mm Macro for sheer round versatility and quality. I have read nothing but
    good reports on this lens. In Oz it retails for around $620 while the tubes
    (one of each) would be around $400 if I stick with the Canon set. Its the
    low light capacity and quality of image that makes the Tamron stand out for
    the bucks when comparing with others that I have looked at. I look forward
    to your views.


    Don from Down Under.
    Don, Jan 18, 2006
  6. ....

    Results, with either the diopters or extension (tubes or a
    bellows), will depend greatly on the lense used, and on just how
    much magnification you want to get. You'll get more
    functionality from a set of tubes, and that will be more true as
    the magnification you typically want is increased. You'll get
    even more from a bellows.

    But as the functionality is increased, the convenience of use is
    decreased! All of the convenience of auto aperture and metering
    plus auto focus is lost using a typical bellows setup. Hence if
    the diopters do what you want, that is just as good as tubes.
    And if tubes do what you want, that is just as good as a
    bellows. But if you want to do everything, bite the bullet and
    get a set of bellows. (Think in terms of an inexpensive m42
    screw mount bellows and using adapters. It will cut the cost
    Even more so than the above, with dedicated lenses you pay for
    convenience of use, not functionality. A typical lense
    described as "macro" is actually just a close focus lense. It
    is not a flat field lense (which may not make any difference).
    But it is not optically optimized for close focus either.
    Better macro lenses will be both, but you'll pay a lot more for
    them if they also have all of the various features (auto focus,
    aperture and metering).

    On the other hand, an optically *really* *good* macro lense need
    not cost much, if you can do without the conveniences. (And
    note that if you use a bellows you probably won't have those
    conveniences anyway.) A 75 to 120 mm enlarging lense (with a
    39mm to 42mm adapter, and then a 42mm to camera body adapter)
    makes a great macro lense. To be absolute best, it should be
    mounted with a reversing ring. Good examples would be Nikon's
    El-Nikkor and Rodenstock's Rodagon lenses. A typical used one
    in good condition goes for $50-70 on eBay.

    A whole kit including bellows, adapters, and both a ~50mm and a
    ~105mm lense, could easily cost less than $150 if you wait for
    good prices.
    Floyd Davidson, Jan 18, 2006
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    Dave Guest


    I just wonder why no one has asked what 70-300 lens he has that goes to
    2x life size.
    Dave, Jan 18, 2006
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    Prometheus Guest


    I just wonder why no one has asked what 70-300 lens he has that goes to
    2x life size.[/QUOTE]

    I must say that I wondered that, if it does then why bother with using
    tubes to get a mere 1:1?
    Prometheus, Jan 18, 2006
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    default Guest

    Sorry about that, the 70-300 can magnify to 1:2, or 1/2 life size only. I
    had the ratio backward. If it went to double life size, i certainly wouldnt
    need tubes or diopters.
    default, Jan 19, 2006
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    Prometheus Guest

    I had not looked at the Tamron 90mm macro, I was considering the Canon
    EF-S 60 f/2.8 macro lens which is 320 GBP, the Tamron 90 mm is 370 GBP.
    The Canon tubes (12 & 25 are 60 & 100 GBP (besides I think I would need
    two 12mm and one 25mm to achieve 1:1 which would bring the cost up to
    240GBP); Jessops market a set of three which offer 1:1 for 75 GBP. If I
    use tubes I would need a sheet or stick marked with the dimensions
    covered by each combination of tubes. Whilst tubes are a lower cost
    option they are really only suited to bench use with restricted subjects
    due to the time taken to change the configuration; supplementary lenses
    are quicker to change, will impose similar restrictions on subject, and
    introduce some degradation; I favour a lens which will let me focus down
    to 20cm to give 1:1 with low distortion and go out to infinity, for me
    this makes a good nature lens for field walking (a very long lens might
    also be required).
    Prometheus, Jan 19, 2006
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    JPS Guest

    In message <>,
    You do realize you need EF-S tubes (or at least one, to attach to the
    lens)? Last I checked, they were a bit more expensive (and I'm not sure
    that Canon themselves even made them yet; only Kenko, IIRC).
    JPS, Jan 19, 2006
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    Prometheus Guest

    I don't see why you should need "EF-S" tubes; EF lenses work on the
    camera, the only thing special about EF-S lenses is that with the
    shorter focal length lenses the rear element does not protrude in to the
    mirror box, since tubes do not have any elements there can not be a
    Prometheus, Jan 19, 2006
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    JPS Guest

    In message <>,
    It has nothing to do with the body; an EF lens will not attach to a tube
    that is not specifically designed for EF-S, because the baffles in the
    tube leave too small of an aperture for the EF-S lens protrusion. I'm
    going by my Kenkos, but when I inquired at B&H a few months ago, I was
    told that only one company made EF-S compatible tubes. And they were
    very expensive.
    JPS, Jan 20, 2006
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    Stacey Guest

    The 2 element diopters are a different story. ANyone who says they don't
    work well have never used tham and are thinking of the cheap single element

    You do lose light with a tube which can be an issue. I used to ONLY use
    tubes till I tried the nikon 2 element diopters, I'm impressed!
    Stacey, Jan 20, 2006
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    Stacey Guest

    That depends on the focal length of the lens used. With a tele lens it takes
    a LOT of tube to do much. Tubes have a larger effect on shorter lenses
    which is the opposite of what diopters do.
    Stacey, Jan 20, 2006
  16. default

    Stacey Guest

    Again for "fun", look at the good nikon 2 element diopters on that lens.
    Stacey, Jan 20, 2006
  17. As with just about every other type of photography, choosing a
    lense focal length has serious consequences for
    photomacrography. If you want higher magnification, a shorter
    focal length lens will require less extension to focus the
    lense. Of course the lens to subject distance also gets very
    short too.

    I usually use either a 50mm El Nikkor enlarging lense and a
    105mm Rodenstock Rodagon for most closeups. I use both tubes
    and bellows, use a reversing ring, and on occasions put a
    Vivitar 2x Macro Focusing Teleconverter between the camera and
    the lense too.

    That does *not* make for a great deal of convenience (no auto
    focus or even auto aperture), but optically it is superior and
    the functionality is fantastic.

    A tripod solid enough to hold it steady costs more, even used,
    than the whole macro setup! I have a Majestic tripod made by
    Bencher, with one of the dual rail outriggers to actually hold
    the camera. The camera isn't as stable as it could be, because
    it is about 18 inches out on the outrigger, but it does allow
    swinging the camera back and forth, to and from the subject.
    Floyd Davidson, Jan 20, 2006
  18. default

    default Guest

    The Canon EF12-II and EF25-II should work with EF-S lenses. The original
    EF12 and EF25 will not. However they are way too expensive here ($149 and
    $249 respectively). The cost of the two of them would be much better put
    toward an actual macro lens. The diopter filters will work good enough in
    the mean time for me.

    Considering that the tubes do not have any optical elemements, moving parts
    or active electronics, I think the price is outrageous. I bought my Canon
    EF50mm f1:1.8 II lens for a little over $100 and it has lenses, motors,
    autofocus etc.
    default, Jan 20, 2006
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