I am new to macro extension tubes and I want to buy one but I don't have a manual lens (one where I could change the aperture manually) so I don't know if an extension tube would work with my lenses or not. Could anyone help me out with this please? Also there are macro tube ranging from $10 to more than $100. what is the difference between the cheap ones and the expensive ones?

  • Do you have something like the Nikon "G" lenses then?
    – MikeW
    Mar 27 '13 at 7:05

Yes you can.

The more expensive extension tubes has camera-lens connections that let you control aperture.

With the cheaper tubes you still have options:

  1. Obviously, you can use whatever aperture the lens uses when not connected (for Canon it's wide open, for Nikon it's fully stopped down).

  2. For Canon, connect the lens to the camera (without the tube), set your aperture, press the DOF preview button, with that button pressed detach the lens - the lens will now stay in that aperture until you reconnect it to the camera.

  3. For Nikon, the aperture is operated by a small mechanical lever, you can set an aperture by using something sticky to fix the lever position - make sure you use something that peels off completely and does not leave residue behind.

  • Thanks for that tip! I've been shooting Canon EOS for two decades and never realized if you detached a lens with the DoF preview button held down the lens would hold the selected aperture! I've never done much Macro work or free lensing.
    – Michael C
    Mar 27 '13 at 23:54

The differences that matter between different extension subes would be:

  • Presence of electrical contacts

  • Plastic or metal mount

  • Build quality

You would want the electrical contacts, so that the aperture settings from the camera work, along with other information that is sent between the camera and the lens. The quality of the tube otherwise doesn't affect the image quality, as there are no lenses in the tube.

The auto focus might not work well, or not at all, depending on how long the extension tube is, and the characteristics of the lens. There is no difference between different tubes for this though, as long as the electric contacs are correct.

  • Conceivably one tube could be truer than another and allow the lens to stay perpendicular to the sensor plane. If the tube were not true, the focus plane would not be parallel to the sensor but would be slightly tilted such as with a tilt/shift lens.
    – Michael C
    Jun 23 '13 at 11:51
  • @MichaelClark: Good point, that could actually be a difference, however it would have to be pretty bad before you would actually get a noticable effect.
    – Guffa
    Jun 23 '13 at 12:00
  • Remember, DoF is razor thin in macro photography, so the effect would show up a lot sooner there than with more conventional focusing distances and DoF.
    – Michael C
    Jun 23 '13 at 12:03

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