How do I choose an extension tube for macro photography?

by Bob   Last Updated September 17, 2017 19:18 PM

I'm looking for an extension tube for my DSLR. Any suggestions? I see a lot on the internet, but I cannot figure out which is the best.

Answers 4

An extension tube doesn't have any optics in it, it's just a tube that is used to move the lens in relation to the sensor, because there's nothing but air in there all the extension tubes in the world will use the same air will give you the exact same image.

There are 3 ways extension tubes differ:

  1. Electrical contacts

    Tubes with no electrical contacts (the cheap kind) don't have a connection between the lens and camera, you don't have auto focus and don't have aperture control, the camera will only work in M and Av mode.

    To control aperture switch camera to Av mode, set aperture, press DOF preview button and hold, while pressing detach lens

    Tube with electrical contacts: those are easier to use because you have all the normal camera controls (but I don't think auto-focus will be useful here).

  2. Thickness

    Thicker tubes will increase magnification and move the focus plane closer - but remember if the tube is too thick the focus plane will move behind the lens's front element and nothing will be in focus.

    You can buy a set of tubes with different thicknesses that you can combine to have a large number of options.

  3. Build quality

    Just don't put an heavy expensive telephoto on a thin plastic Chinese tube.

January 20, 2013 14:03 PM

The air in my Kenko tubes has never let me down. :-)

This is one of my rare third party camera accessories. I can't think of any good reason to pay more for a set of tubes. I bought mine used. The air seems undamaged.

January 20, 2013 21:12 PM

I've been using Kenko for 3 years now and they work well. You will notice some flex in them if you mount all three at once on a heavy lens but other than this they are well built and get the job done.

January 21, 2013 01:58 AM

Even if macro extension tubes have no glass in them, with cheap ones reflections or play at the mounts can make a huge difference. I recently bought one set branded COMIX, sold by Commlite, from eBay. It is useless because of glare and play. Kenko seems a safe bet. I got so upset with the COMIX tubes that I wrote a review some days ago comparing three equivalent sets of tubes for MFT of different brands and prices. Have a look at the test images, and you will never ever again believe that bad quality or badly designed macro extension tubes will not affect image quality. The review is in instalments: part 1, part 2, part 3.

Pedro Aphalo
Pedro Aphalo
September 17, 2017 18:35 PM

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