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Extension Tubes on a zoom lense

lawbert 10 1.8k 15 England
25 Jul 2009 7:45PM
I have a Sigma 120-300mm which I use on a Canon 50d, I am very happy with the sharpness of this lense and would like to use it for Macro photography using extension tubes.
Has anyone done this on a zoom lense with varying minimum focusing distances throughout the zoom range with good results?
Any ideas for tube sizes to buy and which brand that arent going to put my budget into a dedicated 150 or 180mm second hand dedicated sigma macro lense?

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LeighRebecca 10 267 10 England
25 Jul 2009 8:00PM
I am by no means very experienced in this, as I have only just dug out some extension tubes to play with after buying them (cos they were cheap) then putting them away.
I have the 5d ii and a 24-105 and I have now tried a couple of the tubes with the lens at 105, and it seems to work flawlessly. The exposure is spot on, and I focus by keeping it at minimum distance and moving the camera back and forth.
The tubes are a set of Jessops canon dedicated tubes which I bought for very little more than 20, and I can't see what could be improved on them, as they are just spacers with contacts, it seems.
Chrism8 11 866 17 England
25 Jul 2009 8:26PM
The ext tubes usually come in a set of 3, you can use any combination of them together, or just one, the benefit of a dedicated macro will be a wider aperture than a Zoom with a Ext Tube, which everway a tripod will be ideal, although hand holding with a dedicated macro is quite possible. Min focus will also be closer on a dedicated macro but cost is likely to be greater.

25 Jul 2009 8:41PM
L have use extension tubes on my 100- 400mm canon , with my old camera..((( 20D )) absolutely no problem worked a treat... and would continue to use that same set up on my 50D... !!!...

((( Images not in this gallery,but where in my old )) can see them in invertebrates on my website.. mostly butterflies & Dragons...!!!
Leif 12 722
25 Jul 2009 9:55PM
Make sure they have the electrical contacts to allow automatic aperture control. Canon tubes will be best quality, but pricey. Third party ones are somewhat variable in quality. I have a set (NIkon fit) and they are poor, due to bad contacts, and they wobble. But not all are like mine. It seems to be pot luck. Nikon tubes are so much better and I am sure the same is true for Canon.

Your lens might perform okay. It all depends on the design. Stick to the 120mm end for the highest magnification with a given extension. What you will find is that you will need quite a bit of extension, so the whole kaboodle can get a bit unstable. Needless to say a tripod is needed. Try shooting with your lens at the closest focus and 120mm, and see what the results are like. If they are decent, then it might be fine with tubes, though not as good as a macro lens.
StrayCat Plus
13 18.7k 3 Canada
25 Jul 2009 11:26PM
You could also try a dioptre lens, which John Shaw gives high marks; Canon has some excellent ones at a very reasonable price, and when travelling in the field, it's only like carrying an extra filter. If you try one, look at the lower magnification ones first, they work very well with zoom lenses.
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
28 Jul 2009 12:48PM
Kenko AF tubes are a pretty solid choice in the market, an older set of Jessopes tubes (2nd hand) are also worth a look (Though I belive only the newer Kenko tubes accep EFS lenses as well as EF). Avoid the super cheap tubes with no contacts since you will lose your metering and aperture control with the setup (there is a trick with canon lenses to close the aperture down, but its slow and fiddly - not damaging, but very much harder to work with).

As for filters also consider looking at the Raynox range of macro filters- they tend to market more toward the video cameras than DSLRs but still have a very high optical quality and have fast become popular with macro shooters - even those keen to go greater than full macro by using them on full macro lenses.
The bonus of the filters is that they are quick to add and remove when on the go - letting you get your infinity focus back (like tubes they will remove infinity focus) as opposed to tubes which are slower to change out of. Also note that whilst many of the filters for Raynox only have a smaller lens surface area on a crop sensor camera vignetting should not be a major problem at all - fullframe is likley a different story.
4 Aug 2009 12:03PM
Extension tubes work great, but keep in mind they work best with lenses that have shorter minimum focusing distances (which tend to be wide angles). So you'll find that a greater magnification will be achieved with the wide angles (in most cases). I have one on my macro and it gets me close to 2x life size magnification.
lawbert 10 1.8k 15 England
12 Aug 2009 5:28PM
Thank you to everyone for your very in depth answers.
Greatly appreciated and I have decided to purchase the kenko tubes as they seem very good value opposed to Canon ones.
dragarth 13 247 1 Scotland
21 Aug 2009 9:39PM
my advice is dont!
I tried them and they were pants!!
now saved up and got a dedicated macro lens - much better results and easier to use too
just my opinion..


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