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Kenko Extension Tubes

sallybea 8 41 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2011 11:33AM
I have have some Kenko Extension Tubes (AF) which I have had very little success with so far. I am using a Nikon D200 and a Sigma 105 macro lens but would really like to achieve what I see through the tubes when I download it onto my computer. I have tried to use them in the field - without a tripod and to be honest the result is shaky to say the least. It is such a shame to miss a great shot because I can't get to grips with the settings. Can anyone please help me understand what settings I need - manual - or auto and in simple language how to achieve this. I would appreciate some help please. insects-174.jpg

Thank you so much in advance.

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Big Bri 17 16.4k United Kingdom
17 Jun 2011 12:17PM
Why are you using tubes with a macro lens ? Tubes are normally used instead of a macro lens......
User_Removed 14 3.3k 4 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2011 12:19PM
In simple terms during the time your camera's shutter is open to capture the light your camera is moving so you get a blur. To stop this you can stop camera movement (with a tripod) or you can cut down on the length of time your shutter opens for.

Setting a fast shutter speed (Time Value) then means the camera has to open the hole (Aperture Value) wider. This reduces depth-of-field (not all of your subject may be in focus).

At the high magnifications that you're using you really need a very fast shutter (TV setting), but you also need a very narrow aperture (AV setting). You could shoot manually and try something like f18 for AV and 1/2000 for TV but you might get dark pictures.

To counter that you can turn up the camera's ISO (but this increases noise). Really you need more light. Which means waiting for a really sunny day or investing in something like a ring flash.
justin c 14 5.0k 36 England
17 Jun 2011 12:42PM
I would have to disagree with the above. Using extension tubes on a macro lens will yield considerable magnification, depending on the size of the tube being used. Selecting an aperture of f18 would be the last thing you want to do as diffraction would be severe and would seriously impact the image quality, which is generally of primary importance with detailed, high-magnifications such as this. Diffraction can be a limiting factor on most lenses, but considerably more so on macro lenses, not to mention macro lenses and extension tubes.
Working at high magnifications means very, very shallow depth of field. In the example such as the one posted, you're never going to achieve front to back sharpness, no matter what aperture you select, nor is it necessary. Focus carefully on the most important part of your subject and just ensure the depth of field covers the important elements. In the example posted above and in the majority of cases, that means the creatures eyes.
Also, forget trying to achieve ridiculously high shutter speeds, it isn't going to happen when photographing at high magnifications, at least not with natural light anyway, no matter how bright it is.
To get pin sharp images you need to manually focus extremely carefully, use a solid tripod, a remote release, lock the mirror up and have lots of patience in choosing the optimum time to trip the shutter, i.e. a lull in the breeze or when the subject is completely still.
Another method favoured by many, is using flash, which will solve the movement issues. Care and experimentation needs to be done though to achieve natural looking results when using flash as the main light source.

The best tip is to learn about your subject and choose the optimum time to photograph them. Bright sunshine is generally the worst possible light for macro photography. The light is far too harsh, contrasty and unflattering. Also the insects will be far too active and restless.
Try shooting at dawn or dusk when the insects are roosting for the night. They will often be totally motionless allowing you to use whatever shutter speed is necessary for pin sharp results (even many seconds, if needed). The added advantage is any breeze is often minimal, or hopefully, non-existent at those times.
cameracat 14 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
17 Jun 2011 12:43PM
Chris_L has summed it up .....Smile

If you prefer to shoot your Macro work in the field and without a tripod.....Grin

Sell the Sigma 105mm, Then sell the Kenco Tubes, Then buy yourself the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 micro VR lens.......Wink

This advise will not suit the hard core macro brigade, But from my own experience having VR ( Image Stabilising ) for hand held macro is brilliant, I have had some Fab results this way....Smile

Sumfin else, Good though the Kenco tubes are for the money, The plasic construction of the barrel parts leads to some movement, Especially with more than one tube in use, These should really have been made from alloy, Or metal like the mounts.....Wink

EDIT: To slow as ever, But yes I agree with Justin, Have used tubes with my macro lens, Though a tripod tends to become essential unless you have VR/IS, Which works even with tubes in use, Mine does but some might not.....Smile
sallybea 8 41 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2011 12:49PM
Hi Chris and Big Bri,

First, the guy in Camera Warehouse said the tubes would work with the Macro Lens, will they or won't they?

I guess I want greater magnification and assumed that I could use the lens. I had it already so wanted to get have a go at getting close.
I can have a go with a couple of my other lenses - would the Nikon 18-200 or a Sigma 300 work?

Does anyone have any images posted which I could look at - using the Kenko tubes and maybe even the Nikon 200 - also the settings used. Just want to know what I can aim for.

Thank you so much for your assistance.

justin c 14 5.0k 36 England
17 Jun 2011 12:54PM

Quote:First, the guy in Camera Warehouse said the tubes would work with the Macro Lens, will they or won't they?

They will work absolutely perfectly with the macro lens. I've been using the Kenko tubes for years on many different lenses and they're the perfect addition to your macro lens if you wish to achieve even higher magnifications than what the lens alone can offer.
sallybea 8 41 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2011 1:17PM
Justin thanks for taking the time and trouble to put all of that down too. I REALLY wanted someone to tell me that the Sigma lens would work with the tubes. The view of those bugs with the sigma and tubes on the end is simply amazing! Just want to see the same result on my computer.

I agree with everything you say about bright days - I tend to avoid them.

Wow so many opinions!! - I just have to be realistic - the equipment I have needs to suffice for the moment - so to sum up - we have an auto focus tube. Do I use Aperture priority and what f number is likely to work in the early morning or later afternoon. I have experimented and find that working early in the morning or later in the day results in me getting a picture that is too dark and flash seems to give me an unflattering photo. In the daytime I overexpose - what f number is likely to work if I use flash on a duller day.

Thanks everyone and very interesting to see how many conflicting opinions there are out there - time to get out there again and experiment again.


sallybea 8 41 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2011 1:24PM
Thanks again Justin, you give me hope and a little reassurance goes a long way Grin
mikehit 8 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2011 3:29PM
If yuo look at the picture of the dragnofly (?) its front legs and back of the thorax are in focus, but the eyes are not. If the eyes were in focus it would be a cracking shot. The problem with AF is that you can not be totally sure what it is focussing on and iot usally shooses the most contrasty part of the image. So generally MF works best.

People traditionally use extension tubes for their standard lens (zoom or prime) to get a decent magnification - for example my 70-300 gives .3x magnification by itself but this can increase to .9x with tubes. 'Proper' macro lenses on the other hand are designed to give 1x magnification at distances of 12" or so which gives much more space between camera and object. I say 'proper' because many macro lenses are designed for close focussin although they only give about .4x magnification.

Sure, you can use extension tubes on a macro lens and it gives you >1x magnification. But do you need it for the dragonfly?

Bear in mind that extension tubes mean less light reaching the sensor and this means you need longer shutter times (more motion blur?), or wider apertures (shorter DOF), or higher ISO (more noise). And the working distacne can get very (very!) short. So if you can get the magnification without the tubes the macro lens will give more light and a longer working distance.
mikehit 8 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2011 3:35PM
And if you are not using a tripod you will also have the backward/forward motion of your body that is almost impossible to stop. A movement of barely 5mm would give the focus error you see on the dragonfly.
If I do not have my tripod for a potentially good shot I set my camera to 'rapid fire' (5 fps on my 30D), focus then delibreately pull out of focus and move very slowly back towards the object while the camera fires way like a cricket on heat. If I do this 2 or 3 times I usually get one acceptably sharp Tongue
User_Removed 14 3.3k 4 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2011 3:38PM
Justin and Mike know much more about this subject than I do, my advice was all based on you using your gear without a tripod as you said in your original post, hope I didn't send you in the wrong direction.
sallybea 8 41 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2011 3:57PM
Hi Chris,
No, not a problem - know I should use a tripod and certainly the results are usually much better but not always so easy in the circumstances I work, out there in the wilderness - those critter sure move fastGrin
I appreciate all the advice given.
Many thanks
sallybea 8 41 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2011 4:04PM
Hi Mike,

Thanks for that. I think you are probably right, in fact I had about four minutes for that damselfly to eat it's meal. In that time I tried over twenty shots - some with the extension tube and some without - the better images were by far without the extension tubes and although I nearly always focus on the eyes I was pretty much wanting to see too what it was eating, I made a decision to focus on the grub and hoped that the eyes would be sharp as well but neither worked in my pictures which is why I came seeking help. I guess we have to live and learnGrin

Thank you so much, you guys are all terrific!!
sallybea 8 41 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2011 5:09PM
Hi Guys,

Spent a half hour checking out the info you guys gave me. I put the Kenco tubes on the macro lens - Set the camera at manual, auto priority, f13 - did an on-camera meter reading adjustment and it worked like a treat, one click and I had a great sharp image. The most important info I learnt today was that the tripod is probably the most essential piece of equipment after a decent lens and camera. Now I'm wondering if anyone has any experience of a using Monopod whilst shoot bugs and where I can pick up a remote release at a decent price. Thank you again for all your advice.



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