A few months ago, I was reading Popular Photography magazine and ran across a small ad for Opteka Extension Tubes. My sister who is a landscape photographer uses these all the time, but as a portrait photographer I had never had the opportunity to use them. I went to Amazon to find out more about them and the price tag of just $199, it was a lot cheaper than buying a macro lens. I thought they would be perfect for my upcoming trip to the botanical gardens in Charleston and I was right.
What are Extension Tubes?
Extension tubes are designed to enable a lens to focus closer than its normal set minimum focusing distance. Getting closer has the effect of magnifying your subject (making it appear larger in the viewfinder and in your pictures). They are exceptionally useful for macro photography, enabling you to convert almost any lens into a macro lens at a fraction of the cost while maintaining its original optical quality. The extension tubes have no optics. They are mounted in between the camera body and lens to create more distance between the lens and film plane. By moving the lens father away from the film or CCD sensor in the camera, the lens is forced to focus much closer than normal. The greater the length of the extension tube, the closer the lens can focus. The Opteka Auto Extension Tube Set contains three tubes of different length, a 12mm, 20mm, and 36mm, which can be used individually or in any combination to obtain the desired magnification. Opteka’s Auto Focus extension tubes are designed with all the circuitry and mechanical coupling to maintain auto focus and TTL auto exposure.
It took a while for me to get use to them and to figure out which ones to use. Like everything else, it is best to experiment. I found that I needed to use a tripod and manual focus for just about every shot. Below are some of the images I took on my trip using the extension tubes.