What I really want is an extension tube for my telephoto lens. (70-200mm Canon) I have an opportunity to purchase a number of macro tubes. Will those also work with the telephoto lens?


Yup, they'll work - tubes should work* with any lens, even a reversed one for extreme macro.

But the magnification is relative to the focal length - so adding 50mm of extension tubes to 200mm doesn't get you super close, show stopping macro shots. Using it at the 70mm end will produce higher magnification shots (although probably not 1:1), but less working distance.

Also, check out How can I estimate the reproduction ratio of an unknown macro setup? and How can I calculate the change an extension tube makes to the maximum magnification of a lens?

*Obviously if they don't have electrical contacts you'll lose a lot of auto stuff, but that's not relevant to the focal length issue.

  • Great. Thanks. The guy is selling a whole bunch for real cheap so I will play around with them. – Jakub Sisak GeoGraphics Sep 9 '11 at 15:24
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    @Jakub - You can get simple tubes wicked cheap on Amazon, so caveat emptor. amazon.com/Fotodiox-Extension-Extreme-Close-up-Digital/dp/… – rfusca Sep 9 '11 at 15:28
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    Though if you are reversing the lens a wide-angle is better. – ElendilTheTall Sep 9 '11 at 15:29
  • @Elendil - You could theoretically stack a wide angle on a super telephoto and put extension tubes on that for upwards of 20:1 + – rfusca Sep 9 '11 at 16:04

A few months ago, I used tubes with my Canon 135/2.8 to get a shot I couldn't get with anything else in my bag, including a 50/1.4 which is theoretically "better" to use with tubes.

The shortest tube I had on the 50 compressed DoF so much and reduced the far focus distance so much that I simply couldn't get the shot. The subject was too big to fit in the frame once it was in focus, and I would have had to close down the aperture too much for the available light. (Raising ISO wasn't an option here.)

All I really needed for this shot is to reduce the near focus limit a bit so I could get a little closer than the lens would allow on its own.

So, yes. Tubes FTW.

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