Macro Filters vs Extension Tubes

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by TWX, Jan 18, 2020.

  1. TWX

    TWX No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The slide-digitizing rig I cobbled together could use some refinement, and one of the problems I'm having is that most of my lenses only focus as closely as around a foot and change. Even zoomed-in all of the way that leaves a lot of the frame that isn't focused on the slide.

    So basically it looks like the two least expensive options are either macro filters or extension tubes. I'm aware that one of the advantages of the tubes is that since they're in the mounting flange they should fit any lens, while the filters are of whatever thread they are, so might only fit a few lenses.

    That said, the macro filters are cheaper than the tubes. So what are your thoughts on one versus the other?


     
  2. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Filters = glass. Extra glass = increased image degradation.
     
  3. petrochemist

    petrochemist TPF junkie!

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    Tubes are fine with short focal length lenses, but don't do much with longer lenses.
    Supplementary lenses are more effective with longer focal lengths, and if you get good ones (Raynox clip on ones are v good, other achromatic ones are also generally good, but tend to be expensive. Single element ones are cr**).

    There are other options too involving reversing lenses...
     
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  4. petrochemist

    petrochemist TPF junkie!

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    If that's true, why do lens designers use such complex designs, more than 10 elements is now quite common, yet the earliest cameras used single element lenses.
    Cheaply made extra glass will certainly degrade the image, but well made optics do not automatically cause degradation.
     
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  5. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I recently bought the Raynox 250 macro lens filter. It works well with my 56mm lens. It’s spring loaded like a lens cap and fits a range of lens filter widths. I like it. Extension tubes are pretty cheap as well. There are a lot of options. The ones I have are JJC brand.
     
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  6. Jeff15

    Jeff15 TPF junkie!

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    When I had all my heavy Nikon gear tubes worked well for me......
     
  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    There is a big difference between an achromatic, two-element close-up lens such as the Raynox models,or the Canon 250D or the Canon 500D, or the Nikon 5-T or the Nikon 6-T and cheap,single-element models which are normally sold as + diopter filters.

    In order to do really good quality work it would probably be best to get a macro lens , something that has the ability to focus close and to provide you with a flat Optical field without Focus curvature.
     
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  8. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Because they're forced to design lenses with a fixed flange-to-focal plane distance.
     
  9. Original katomi

    Original katomi TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Ex tubes if you go to wide you end up looking inside the lens
    I have just used my ex tubes in this weeks challenge
     
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  10. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    You need the right pairing of lens length and accessory type for the best result... a longer prime macro and an extension tube would likely be very nice, but there are at least 500 different combinations that one could use.

    Canon EF is easily adaptable to seven different legacy 35 mm system lenses, so that would make a whole range of older, used, manual focus macro lenses mountable on your camera with an adapter. For example I think the old micro Nikkor 55 mm f/3.5 and the very inexpensive M2 extension tube would be a possibility. This is an old-school macro lens made in the 1960s and 1970s and it is really inexpensive, often $35 or so in "bargain "condition... I have seen many examples of this lens and one unusual thing that it has is a deeply-recessed and small front element,scarcely larger than a dime in diameter. Because the lens is so far back inside the barrel it is usually quite well-protected against scratches and scuffs, etc. Even in bargain grade examples with the barrels scratched and worn to hell, the front element is usually quite good.
     

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  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    160820943.mvSt90cI._DSC7421.jpg

    Note the detailed reproduction ratio scale on this 1970s era Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Series 1 m42 thread-mount macro.
     
  12. TWX

    TWX No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Quite a bit of food for thought here.

    There's a local craigslist seller with some various macro filters for sale cheap, I might start there depending on what strengths and sizes he has. The 18-55mm f/3.5-6.3 IS II focuses down to around 10" and is by far the shortest of any of the lenses I already own, and since I don't use it anywhere else anyway it's not a big deal if I set that lens up with a 58mm macro filter as a permanentish macro lens.

    Alternately if I go with an extension tube, I could possibly build a black box that could sandwich in the bayonet mount between the lens and the extension tube, sized to place the slide right where it's as close to filling the frame as I dare get. The whole thing would dismount from the camera by removing the extension tube from the camera mounting flange. I'd need to design the black box where I could open it to allow access to zoom and focus, and possibly to the auto/manual focus switch, or I could attempt to build a hole into the side of the box that allows that switch to be reached without having to open anything.

    And lastly I have a 28-80mm EF lens that was the kit lens on a film Rebel 2000 that would likewise be no issue to semipermanently turn into a dedicated macro lens, also 58mm filter thread, so I could experiment with both the 18-55mm and the 28-80mm to see which gives better results.

    As cool as a dedicated macro lens of any type would be it's probably more than I would like to spend at the moment. That said, I've commented to my wife that if she can produce the negatives from her family photo albums I would be happy to attempt to digitize them which I assume would be basically taking the picture and inverting the colors. So we'll just have to see.
     

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