Need advice: Teleconverters vs extension tubes for macro photography?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by swl, Mar 7, 2004.

  1. swl

    swl Guest

    Hi all,

    I take big flower shots like tulips with my Minolta 70-210mm lens, and
    the results are not bad as the lens can focus at a minimum distance of
    1.1m. But now I want bug and more 'intimate' flower shots *wink* :p I
    have close-up lens but maybe I didn't get the good ones I don't like
    them at all. So before I get another macro lens, should I get extension
    tubes or teleconverters? From what I understand ex tubes can allow me to
    focus closer, but if I can't get closer to the object (for example
    flower is on the other side of fence) then it would be less useful than
    the TC, which I can also use for wildlife photography. But then is it
    true that TC is optically worse than ex tubes and I'll lose some stops?
    So which one is a better deal for macro photography? And what make would
    you recommend, and what are the specs (including the price of course :p)
    that I should be aware of? Thanks very much for your help; I really
    appreciate it.



    p.s.: please remove the last 't' in email address when reply.
    swl, Mar 7, 2004
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  2. Extension tubes will stop your zoom behaving as a zoom (i.e. maintaining focus
    when you change focal length), whereas an extender will lose you one or two
    stops, depending on type. Two stops loss on a 70-210 is likely to stop your
    camera's AF working due to small effective aperture.

    Bite the bullet, and get a 100mm or longer macro. (The Vivitar 100mm macro isn't
    too expensive, and will at least give you an idea whether to spend big bucks on
    a Minolta macro.)
    Malcolm Stewart, Mar 7, 2004
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  3. Most of what you heard is correct.

    The Teleconverter will degrade your image more than the extension tubes.
    However I suggest that you will not be happy with either.

    Either is going to bring your lens further from its designed working
    distance. Zoom lenses start off with a disadvantage to start with and you
    are just asking it to do too much. I doubt if you are going to like the
    results. I suggest you borrow tubes and a converter and see what happens.

    What you are asking for takes some special and expensive equipment to do
    Joseph Meehan, Mar 7, 2004

  4. It really depends on what you want more. Teleconverters vary, but the
    good ones can do an excellent job. Kenko Pro 300s are considered among the
    best, and I routinely use the precursor model to these, so I can believe
    it. It does an excellent job.

    Extension tubes, however, have no optics, so there's nothing to
    degrade or alter the image. This does not necessarily mean they will
    produce a clearer photo, though, because it depends on how your lens
    performs. And of course, there's no increase in reach. For tubes, it really
    doesn't matter what brand you get.

    If you find that you're working at a distance more often than not,
    extension tubes are probably bad. You not only lose infinity focus, the
    more extension/greater magnification you go for, the less distance you can
    reach. As a quick test, my 75-300 at 210mm, with 68mm of extension (all
    three tubes in a Kenko set) has a *maximum* focusing distance of a little
    over a meter. It gets much worse as your focal length drops.

    The loss of light from either is a relatively small issue in macro
    work, because you're going to be stopping down seriously to recover the
    depth-of-field loss that macro magnifications cause. Unless your shooting
    style is for extremely short DOF, in which case tubes are probably better.

    The hassle is, the light loss makes it harder to focus, with either
    AF (which should be ignored for macro work anyway) or through the darkened
    viewfinder. If you're working with a fixed aperture/DOF (i.e., not changing
    them to suit each image) or trying to work quickly, a dedicated macro lens
    at f2.8 is going to be the best focuser. But if you're meticulous about
    focus, DOF, tripod, and so on, a TC, tubes, or a macro lens will all be
    about the same in use. When you stop down for DOF Preview, the images goes
    just as dark for any of them.

    Don't take this to mean you'll get the same results ;-). A dedicated
    macro lens will be sharper. They're always the sharpest lens of any
    manufacturer's lineup.

    I use all three, and on occasion at the same time. It's all dependent
    on the situation.

    So I would sit back and determine what you do the most of, at least
    for now, and let that guide your decision. The other options will still be
    there, later on as you expand your equipment.

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, Mar 7, 2004
  5. swl

    Alan Browne Guest

    the last 'e' in videotron"e" too.

    I assume you mean an AF camera (eg: Maxxum)?

    I recomend the 100 f/2.8 macro from Minolta. Very sharp lens, nice
    polyvalent lens (macro, portraits, nature...) It is not cheap, I bought
    mine at B&H and saved quite a bit over the Montreal price. (I paid
    about US$540 at the time). With the CDN $ higher now to the US, you
    should re-price the CDN and US.
    Unfortunately, the Maxxum TC's cannot be used with this lens.

    extnsion tubes are a quick, low price fix that reduce the speed of the
    lens and if I'm not mistaken effectively reduce the sharpness delivered
    to the film (simply cause the images is "spread out" more ... someone
    confirm this?)

    The 70-210 you have is a nice crisp lens, but not terrifically quick,
    tubes or TC's will make it worse. There is no Minolta TC that will work
    with it, I don't know if there is Kenko or other TC that will.

    Alan Browne, Mar 7, 2004
  6. swl

    Alan Browne Guest

    I know the Minolta TC's won't work on this lens. I don't know if Kenko
    or other TC's work with it.

    Alan Browne, Mar 7, 2004
  7. I assume you mean tele-extenders, not extension tubes?
    Joseph Meehan, Mar 7, 2004
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