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03-11-2019, 08:31 PM   #1
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Some questions about extension tubes and diopters

I have a set of Hoya diopters (+1, +2, +4), which I've been using to take macro-ish photos. My lenses just don't focus close enough for the things I often like taking photos of.

They've been working pretty alright, but it's a bit of a pain taking them off/on and the image is pretty fuzzy unless I stop down a lot.


Would extension tubes work better for taking macro photos, or should I just keep using my diopters? I'd like to get a macro lens someday, but I don't have a lot of money to spend right now (The D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro looks particularly nice.)


If extension tubes would work better, what ones should I get? I'd like to use my M-series 50mm F2 to keep things light. All of my lenses are manual, so data contacts don't really matter to me.

Thanks for reading!

03-11-2019, 08:46 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Raynox adapters would be the next step, IMO. A DCR-250 would give you plenty of magnification with your M 50mm f2 and you wouldn't lose any light like you would with extension tubes. The only other thing you need with this is a step up ring 49 to 52mm because the Raynox adapter clips on the end of your lens, from 52mm to 67mm, your M50 f2 is 49mm.
03-11-2019, 10:24 PM - 1 Like   #3
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When you get to macro distance you need to stop down a lot because the depth of field is so small anyway unless your subject is flat.
Check out the latest be Noelcmn with the raynox.Show me your insects - Page 353 - PentaxForums.com
03-11-2019, 10:38 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I forgot to say I started out with those closeup filters too, but they just didn't have the magnification the Raynox does. Even stacked together, and stopped down, it was hard to get a good macro shot with them.

03-11-2019, 11:09 PM - 1 Like   #5
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A set of "auto" extension tubes would do the trick. These have the aperture lever but no contacts. So you could continue to use open aperture metering with the green button. Pentax made a set as well as some sold by Vivitar and no doubt other brands. Not exactly rare but not often that you see them for sale which can make them pricey.

Note however if you want to change magnification you need to change tubes. This can become as tiresome as changing filters.

Pentax made a helical extension tube. Like bellows the extension can be adjusted, in this case by turning the barrel like manual focusing a lens.

Bellows are another option but are heavy, bulky and fragile. Not the best option for field work.
03-12-2019, 12:03 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Raynox macro lens add on devices will be sharper and easier to use than the cheap ones you have. The quick fit attachment makes them easier to use.
03-12-2019, 01:02 AM - 1 Like   #7
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Or you could find a copy of the Pentax 100mm "Dental" macro lens with closeup lenses that attach magnetically.
03-12-2019, 05:01 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Another alternative is to look for an old teleconverter that is advertised as having haze or fungus or what-have-you. It is easy enough to remove the glass and make an extension tube out of it. Often these will have at least the aperture lever (green button), and a little while ago I managed to find one being sold de-glassed that also had the A contacts. Third-party ones also exist which have a screwdrive AF pass-through, but these are more likely to have been well cared for and would not be sold on unless the elements are damaged. Be careful, as some of them are also designed to be compatible with later Ricoh film cameras and may have a malignant version of the Ricoh pin.

03-12-2019, 06:54 AM - 2 Likes   #9
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A couple of points/questions:

1) Are you using flash? If not, you may not be able to close the lens enough to get decent DoF and/or you might be ramping your ISO to astronomical level or just using too long a shutter...
2) Do you have any longer lenses? A diopter's effect is directly proportional to the focal length of the lens it is used with, so if you have something longer than a 50mm (e.g. a 50-200mm), a diopter would work much better on that. But see also #1 (re flash).
3) As my Flickr feed attests, I'm a huge fan of the Raynox DCR-250. Yet I'd still recommend you get something that can at least do 1:2 natively (and the longer the better). A Pentax-M 50mm F/4 Macro perhaps - a bit short, but light and inexpensive (probably under $75) - or maybe a Tamron Adaptall 90mm F/2.5 (52B or 52BB), but it's tougher to find a good deal on those. But see also #1 (re: flash).
4) I'm also a big fan of Adaptall zooms. Some of them can do decent near focus, and if you add the excellent adaptall 2X tele-converter (01F), they become quasi-macro lenses and the combos are long enough that a diopter will have a pretty good effect on them too. The 35-80mm F/2.8-3.8 (01A) is especially excellent, but the 35-70mm F/3.5 (17F) is pretty good too, and can probably be had for a song. But see also #1 (re: flash).

p.s.: If you're set on using a 50mm, I'd go with tubes (but make sure they at least have aperture coupling). With something near or above 100mm, I'd go with a diopter, preferably a Raynox.

Last edited by Doundounba; 03-12-2019 at 07:00 AM.
03-12-2019, 06:59 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by photolady95 Quote
Raynox adapters would be the next step, IMO. A DCR-250 would give you plenty of magnification with your M 50mm f2 and you wouldn't lose any light like you would with extension tubes. The only other thing you need with this is a step up ring 49 to 52mm because the Raynox adapter clips on the end of your lens, from 52mm to 67mm, your M50 f2 is 49mm.
What sort of magnification could I expect from the DCR-250 on my 50mm? Lucky for me, I've already got a 49-52mm step up ring!
03-12-2019, 07:01 AM - 1 Like   #11
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Extension tubes and the like are no less of a pain to work with than diopters. Get a Pentax-M Macro 1:4 50mm, then you'll have a lens that goes from infinity focus to 1:2 macro (allowing you to fill the frame with a subject around 50mm or 2" across on full frame an APS-C sensor) with just a turn of the focus ring. You can easily find good copies of this lens for under 100 USD.

Last edited by baro-nite; 03-12-2019 at 07:03 AM. Reason: Math correction
03-12-2019, 07:01 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by swanlefitte Quote
When you get to macro distance you need to stop down a lot because the depth of field is so small anyway unless your subject is flat.
Check out the latest be Noelcmn with the raynox.Show me your insects - Page 353 - PentaxForums.com
Thanks for the link!

---------- Post added 03-12-19 at 07:08 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
A set of "auto" extension tubes would do the trick. These have the aperture lever but no contacts. So you could continue to use open aperture metering with the green button. Pentax made a set as well as some sold by Vivitar and no doubt other brands. Not exactly rare but not often that you see them for sale which can make them pricey.

Note however if you want to change magnification you need to change tubes. This can become as tiresome as changing filters.

Pentax made a helical extension tube. Like bellows the extension can be adjusted, in this case by turning the barrel like manual focusing a lens.

Bellows are another option but are heavy, bulky and fragile. Not the best option for field work.
The helical extension tube sounds pretty nice, but I doubt I'd find one.

I'll try to keep an eye out for those auto extension tubes, thanks!

---------- Post added 03-12-19 at 07:12 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Raynox macro lens add on devices will be sharper and easier to use than the cheap ones you have. The quick fit attachment makes them easier to use.
They're pretty good for the price I got them.
The Raynox seems like it'd be a step up from them for sure, though.

---------- Post added 03-12-19 at 07:14 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
Or you could find a copy of the Pentax 100mm "Dental" macro lens with closeup lenses that attach magnetically.
That'd be pretty neat, but I doubt I'd be lucky enough to find one within my budget. Is it mostly the same as those 100mm F4 Macro lenses?

---------- Post added 03-12-19 at 07:16 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
Another alternative is to look for an old teleconverter that is advertised as having haze or fungus or what-have-you. It is easy enough to remove the glass and make an extension tube out of it. Often these will have at least the aperture lever (green button), and a little while ago I managed to find one being sold de-glassed that also had the A contacts. Third-party ones also exist which have a screwdrive AF pass-through, but these are more likely to have been well cared for and would not be sold on unless the elements are damaged. Be careful, as some of them are also designed to be compatible with later Ricoh film cameras and may have a malignant version of the Ricoh pin.
I remember seeing something about that a while back, using old broken teleconverters as extension tubes. Thanks for the suggestion!

---------- Post added 03-12-19 at 07:22 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Doundounba Quote
A couple of points/questions:

1) Are you using flash? If not, you may not be able to close the lens enough to get decent DoF and/or you might be ramping your ISO to astronomical level or just using too long a shutter...
2) Do you have any longer lenses? A diopter's effect is directly proportional to the focal length of the lens it is used with, so if you have something longer than a 50mm (e.g. a 50-200mm), a diopter would work much better on that. But see also #1 (re flash).
3) As my Flickr feed attests, I'm a huge fan of the Raynox DCR-250. Yet I'd still recommend you get something that can at least do 1:2 natively (and the longer the better). A Pentax-M 50mm F/4 Macro perhaps - a bit short, but light and inexpensive (probably under $75) - or maybe a Tamron Adaptall 90mm F/2.5 (52B or 52BB), but it's tougher to find a good deal on those. But see also #1 (re: flash).
4) I'm also a big fan of Adaptall zooms. Some of them can do decent near focus, and if you add the excellent adaptall 2X tele-converter (01F), they become quasi-macro lenses and the combos are long enough that a diopter will have a pretty good effect on them too. The 35-80mm F/2.8-3.8 (01A) is especially excellent, but the 35-70mm F/3.5 (17F) is pretty good too, and can probably be had for a song. But see also #1 (re: flash).

p.s.: If you're set on using a 50mm, I'd go with tubes (but make sure they at least have aperture coupling). With something near or above 100mm, I'd go with a diopter, preferably a Raynox.
Thanks for your informative response!

I haven't really messed around with flashed much at all. I have the one built-in to my camera, a Pentax AF160, Pentax AF160SA, and a Vivitar 560D. Would any of those be alright?

I do have a 300 and 200mm, but they're so heavy I rarely like using them. I recently got a M-series 135 F3.5 so maybe that could work alright with diopters or the Raynox?

And thanks for all the lens suggestions and whatnot, I'll look into them and see if they're viable options for me!

---------- Post added 03-12-19 at 07:25 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
Extension tubes and the like are no less of a pain to work with than diopters. Get a Pentax-M Macro 1:4 50mm, then you'll have a lens that goes from infinity focus to 1:2 macro (allowing you to fill the frame with a subject around 50mm or 2" across on full frame an APS-C sensor) with just a turn of the focus ring. You can easily find good copies of this lens for under 100 USD.
Alright, thanks for the input!
Ideally I would get a dedicated macro lens, but it's difficult finding them for affordable prices. I'll see what I can find the 50mm F4 macro for, though.
03-12-2019, 07:55 AM - 1 Like   #13
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Another option for macros is the Tamron 90mm which focuses to 1:1. It gives you more distance to the subject than a 50mm and can be had used for less than $300US. I picked one up from this forum a year ago, and it is SHARP. Pentax makes a 100mm but it will cost you more money. Just another way to go.
03-12-2019, 08:10 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ropuchy Quote
They're pretty good for the price I got them.
The Raynox seems like it'd be a step up from them for sure, though.[COLOR="Silver"]!

I haven't really messed around with flashed much at all. I have the one built-in to my camera, a Pentax AF160, Pentax AF160SA, and a Vivitar 560D. Would any of those be alright?

I do have a 300 and 200mm, but they're so heavy I rarely like using them. I recently got a M-series 135 F3.5 so maybe that could work alright with diopters or the Raynox?
The longer focal length lenses - and primes in particular - work better with Raynox DCR-250. This video (which uses a zoom) is useful for seeing the difference i the types of add on lens results from cheap diopter vs. good APO diopters.


A dedicated macro lens is a more flexible choice but a Raynox in your bag is good insurance. Deglassed teleconverters are great for a lots of things including fixing the minimum focusing distance of very long lenses. For Macro they work best with shorter lenses - the opposite of the add on macro lenses. This can help you pick which to buy or bring.
03-12-2019, 08:14 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob 256 Quote
Another option for macros is the Tamron 90mm which focuses to 1:1. It gives you more distance to the subject than a 50mm and can be had used for less than $300US. I picked one up from this forum a year ago, and it is SHARP. Pentax makes a 100mm but it will cost you more money. Just another way to go.
Thanks for the suggestion, but that's pretty far out of my budget right now.

What specific model is it? Maybe I'll be able to consider it sometime in the future.

---------- Post added 03-12-19 at 08:25 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
The longer focal length lenses - and primes in particular - work better with Raynox DCR-250. This video (which uses a zoom) is useful for seeing the difference i the types of add on lens results from cheap diopter vs. good APO diopters.

Raynox DCR-250 Macro lens adapter and comparison to cheaper aletrnatives - YouTube

A dedicated macro lens is a more flexible choice but a Raynox in your bag is good insurance. Deglassed teleconverters are great for a lots of things including fixing the minimum focusing distance of very long lenses. For Macro they work best with shorter lenses - the opposite of the add on macro lenses. This can help you pick which to buy or bring.
Alright, thanks for the video and further clarification!
I'm planning on using my 50mm unless I can find an alright macro lens in my budget, so extension tubes or deglassed teleconverters will probably be a better option for that.
I'm guessing the Raynox would work well on my 135mm?
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