Please educate me on macro extension tubes...

LowriderS10

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Hi everyone,

I like monkeying around with macro, but can't quite convince myself to get the 60 f2.8...yet.

So...I'm thinking of grabbing some macro extension tubes. Good idea? Bad idea? How much magnification would I get out of it if I coupled it to my 12-50 on the 46mm macro mode? What if I used it with my 45 1.8? I'm guessing the macro tube length matters, right?

I'm looking at getting a two-part set (10mm and 16mm tubes) that has the electronic connections...are those big enough? What sort of magnification would I be looking at with this set and the aforementioned lenses?

They also have ones with no electronic connections that have 9/16/30mm tubes (so you could stack them to be 55mm total instead of 26mm total), but those use all sorts of generic couplings with adapters to mate the body/lens to the tubes, and that just seems like a LOT of hassle and the potential for a lot of play in the system (including the lens, there'd be 6 connections...seems ridiculous).

Thanks very much!
T
 

heli-mech

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Here is a good site for info Macro Extension Tubes & Close-up Lenses

Basically the shorter focal length you have the greater magnification tubes provide, however your working distance also shortens proportionally and they effect your effective aperture. I don't think you could use the non-electric ones though as you wouldn't be able to change aperture nor focus as most (all?) m4/3 lenses need power to do either.

The other option is a close up lens which work better with telephoto lenses. I have seen some people use those with the cheap 40-150 with good results. Final cheap option would be a legacy 50mm macro, which would likely give as good or better results.
 

wjiang

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Tubes work pretty well on both those lenses. You won't need any more than the 10+16, I got a 10+16+21 set with connections but never stack all three. I used them most often with the 45mm, less so the 12-50, but I've since replaced it with the 12-40, and with the 10mm extension I can already focus at almost the front element.

With one tube on the 45mm you'll get about as close as the 12-50 natively, with 2 you can get to about 1:1. The focusing range becomes extremely limited though.

With one on the 12-50 it's similar to 2 on the 45mm but you get a greater focusing range since it starts with a greater built in focusing range when without the tube. No point going to 2 on the 12-50 as you'll be practically at the front element.
 
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eteless

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I often use a 12mm extension with my 85mm (on a FF camera) to allow it to focus closer, it probably upsets the close focus correction however I've never worried. It also won't reach infinity with it in place.

I have longer extensions however it's rare that they're needed.
 

davidzvi

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I would probably stay away from the plastic mount versions. I tried a set once and returned then. They seemed to work OK, but we're a bit loose with a good deal of play. I'm actually thinking of picking up a set of these now:

Amazon.com : Neewer® Automatic Macro Extension Tube DG 10MM+16MM FT1 for Micro Four Thirds M4/3 Camera, fits Olympus PEN E-P1 P2 P3 P5 E-PL1 PL1s PL2 PL3 PL5 PL6 E-PM1 PM2 OM-D E-M5 E-M1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 GH2 GH3 GX7 G1 G2 G10 G3 G5 G6 GF1 GF2 GF3 GF5 GF6 GX1 GM : Camera Lens Extension Tubes : Camera & Photo
 

flipmack

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I have a set of 10/16 AF extension tubes and an adapted ZD 35/3.5 macro using a 4/3-m4/3 adapter.

I find that the dedicated macro lens produces considerably better pictures than a non-macro m4/3 lens with extension tubes, but I may also be biased because the ZD 35/3.5 macro lens is my favorite lens.
 

LowriderS10

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Thanks for all the replies, I really appreciate them! :)

Is there any point in using these tubes if I have the 12-50 with the awesome macro mode already? IE: will the 45 w/ the tubes give me anything over just the 12-50 in its native macro mode?

I was thinking about using a Canon FD 50 3.5 Macro (since I already have an FD -> M4/3 adapter), but that's still only 0.5x, which is roughly what my 12-50 is capable of.
 

RichardB

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If the 12-50 macro mode is good enough for you, that's your easy solution. A dedicated macro, such as the Canon 50mm/3.5, is likely sharper.

The biggest drawback of extension tubes, for me, is that they dim the image, and typically you're already using a small aperture for adequate depth of field. It's not much of an issue outdoors, but I'm in the habit of using existing light indoors, and aperture-priority metering with legacy lenses, so if I don't have enough light my shutter will stay open too long and my photo will have motion blur. Good lighting will avoid the problem.
 

LowriderS10

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If the 12-50 macro mode is good enough for you, that's your easy solution. A dedicated macro, such as the Canon 50mm/3.5, is likely sharper.

The biggest drawback of extension tubes, for me, is that they dim the image, and typically you're already using a small aperture for adequate depth of field. It's not much of an issue outdoors, but I'm in the habit of using existing light indoors, and aperture-priority metering with legacy lenses, so if I don't have enough light my shutter will stay open too long and my photo will have motion blur. Good lighting will avoid the problem.
Thanks...would using tubes with the 45 (for example) be in any way superior to just using the 12-50's macro function?

Or, do tubes not provide anything I don't already have with the 12-50?

And yeah, I'm playing around with the idea of getting a dedicated macro...if I do, it will be the Oly 60, but that's fairly pricey...
 

RichardB

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I don't remember trying the 45 on tubes, though I have a set of the Kenko electric tubes. I would expect it to be optically very good, since the tubes only enlarge the image and do not have any glass to distort it.

I did test the 12-50 against both the Oly 60 and an old Micro-Nikkor 55mm/3.5, and the 12-50 was less sharp than the others. The old Nikkor was optically very good and a lot less expensive than the Oly 60. If you already have an FD-M43 adapter, you may want to try a manual Canon macro lens. The small aperture is not a drawback for macro since you usually stop down anyway, and manual focus is often not a problem in macro because the shallow field can require manual focus on your subject.
 

wjiang

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Thanks...would using tubes with the 45 (for example) be in any way superior to just using the 12-50's macro function?

Or, do tubes not provide anything I don't already have with the 12-50?

And yeah, I'm playing around with the idea of getting a dedicated macro...if I do, it will be the Oly 60, but that's fairly pricey...
I didn't find the tubes plus 45mm any noticeably better than the 12-50. The 45mm isn't designed to focus so close and so degrades a bit when forced to do so due to the extension - flatness of field is a problem. The 12-50 is also a lot easier to use thanks to its wider AF range.

From what I've observed you'll get best performance with extension tubes on lenses already designed to focus close, such as macro lenses, and lenses like the P42.5 f/1.7, O12-50, Olympus Pro lenses, etc. They don't need much extension to get to where you want to be. The more extension you have to add, the worse it seems to get.
 
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I have some cheap tubes that have the contacts. They do work, but they are also difficult to focus with. I've used them on the Oly 45, Oly 60, and the Oly 40-150 f2.8. And possibly on a few other lenses that yielded no keepers. I had my best luck with the 45.

I couldn't see the insect in this one.

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M1019354 by Harvey Richards, on Flickr

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M1019353 by Harvey Richards, on Flickr

A few others here.
I haven't used them in almost a year, the Oly 60 is just easier.
 

Speedliner

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Buying a cheap reversing ring may work even better. They work best with a wide, manual aperture lense.

Search YouTube and you'll find all the info you want.
 

pellicle

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@LowriderS10

this point by @wjiang is both correct and important.
Tubes work pretty well on both those lenses.
With one tube on the 45mm you'll get about as close as the 12-50 natively, with 2 you can get to about 1:1. The focusing range becomes extremely limited though..
its essentially why macro guys often just use manual focus lenses. I normally focus by moving the camera in and out from the subject. This method is so common that there are macro rails for just that.

By hand I've been able to get good results with just cheap gear (and good cheap MF optics)

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that log behind her is a pine needle :)

soon enough you'll bee looking at flash gear because f16 often is not quite enough DoF
 
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