Recently, a photographer friend was looking for a good home for some old Kencor extension tubes, meant to fit a Nikon F-mount camera. I was the lucky recipient of these little guys. I have wanted to play around with extension tubes for a couple of years now, but there are a couple of hurdles. One, these are a third-party product and I always look sideways at an unknown (to me) brand. After you find them, presumably on an auction site or at a used camera place, or maybe at B&H, then you have to buy them for somewhere just under $200. Since I don’t have disposable income just sitting around begging me to use it, I couldn’t justify the expense for a “what the heck, let’s try it” sort of purchase. So it was a treat to inherit a set. Thank you Karl!
What do these do, you might be wondering? Why would you want tubes on your camera? Do they connect you to the mother ship, or what? Basically, the reason people use them is for magnification. You can take super-close up pictures of your subjects. Most people who get those great pictures of insects are using extension tubes (or extension rings as they are also known). For example, Mr. Martin Amm’s photo. That guy is really good.
My first attempt was with a dime. I put each extension ring on separately, then combined them all together for maximum magnification.
I was still trying to figure out how to put them all together properly. The first time I did it, well, the setup with the lens on the end was on the verge of falling to pieces. Not an ideal prospect for taking the camera outside! After some consultation with my mechanically-gifted husband, I learned how to secure the set and ventured into our garden. Here are the results.
I learned a couple of things. One, shoot at high shutter speeds because at this magnification, any movement at all is equally magnified. The image gets blurry from the slightest breeze. Two, the camera meter does not know what to do with extension tubes. Shoot at +2 stops “over” exposed if you want to get close to proper exposure. If not, the image will be mostly black. While a person can fix some stuff in post-production, it looks a lot better if it’s exposed properly the first time. Less work, too. I think in the future it would be neat to try working with these tubes with the camera on a tripod and the subject well-lit, with my own lighting perhaps to make it really shine. All in all, a great first-time out with these rings.