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12-21-2020, 07:26 PM - 2 Likes   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rococo Quote
I have read that extension tubes are better that the little screw on lens kits you can get but just discovered there are issues if you want to try and use auto focus
That would be correct. Extensions tubes are gnerally used with manual technique. AF versions exist, but I would not pay extra for them.

QuoteOriginally posted by Rococo Quote
I saw this being advertisd here: Manual P-K Extension Tube Set (12mm, 20mm, 36mm) - $15 shipped! -
I own a similar set. That item is actually a set of "auto" extension tubes in that the aperture stays wide open until exposure time. Then the aperture automatically stops down the same as the lens without the extension tubes. Manual extension tubes leave the aperture require you to manually open and close the iris diaphragm. In any case, you will need a lens with an aperture ring to use them.

As for focusing with extension tubes, you can probably use the focus ring on the lens for the least extension in the set you linked, but probably not at higher magnifications (longer extension. At higher magnifications, it is easier to move the camera and lens as a unit using something called a focus rail.

If the above seems like a lot of trouble, the recommendation of the Raynox DCR-150 is a good one. It is the path of greatest ease into the world of high quality macro.

As for credentials...I have two sets of extension tubes, a Bellows Unit K, and three dedicated macro lenses. A couple of days ago I took the photo below using a 12mm extension tube and an XR Rikenon 35mm f/2.8 lens with focus ring at minimum focus distance for a magnification of about 0.5x (1:2).


Last edited by stevebrot; 12-21-2020 at 07:35 PM.
12-21-2020, 07:55 PM - 1 Like   #17
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You can find some good prices on older macro lenses if you are patient and look for them. I have two Sigma 50/28 1:1 macro lens with an A setting that did not cost that much, around $60 each. I do prefer to shoot macro on a tripod and with manual focus, it's very accurate with magnification and focus peaking.
12-21-2020, 07:58 PM   #18

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QuoteOriginally posted by Rococo Quote
Hi everyone, I am considering trying out macro photography and want to go the cheap route first but i am getting confused on my options. I have read that extension tubes are better that the little screw on lens kits you can get but just discovered there are issues if you want to try and use auto focus ( i am still learning so most of it is beyond me) I have a k70 with kit lens plus a 55-300 which hasnt been used yet. I have only tended to take quick auto shots out and about.
If you want to do budget macro, I would start with not worrying about autofocus. Autofocus plays much less of a role in macro photography compared to pretty much anything else. I think this will simplify your thinking a lot.
12-21-2020, 08:12 PM - 1 Like   #19
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Given OPs stated lenses, the 18-55 & 55-300, a basic set of extension tubes is not going to be very useful,
Neither lens will work well, the aperture will stay fully closed, and image through the view finder will be very dark.
Neither lens has an aperture ring either, and without electrical connection to the camera, there is no control of the aperture, only fully closed.

I think buying extension tubes with only the lenses you have now is a mistake. You will not have a useful system, suitable for a beginner.

A good start if you want an extension tube set, would be to add a gently used 50mm A or M or K series lens to your Kit, Screw mounts would work too, but you'd need an adaptor somewhere in the system (depending on what tubes you get). Manual aperture, and manual focus are better for true macro work (typically defined as 1:1 or closer; 1:1 is much closer than you think). Next step up would be to find an older manual focus, manual aperture macro lens (A, M, K or other brand, in the 50 to 100mm range) which will mount and focus close, with or without tubes. I'd recommend a prime, not a zoom for this.

If what you're interested in is close focus work (less than 1:1), the screw on filters are a good introductory experience, with the Rayonox a step up from that. Either of those options will work with the lenses you have now. The filters at least will allow the " take quick auto shots out and about" you express is your interest now.
Yes, the quality is not as good as tubes or a dedicated macro lens is, but it's much less frustrating for a beginner, and you should be able to at least get auto exposure, and possibly auto focus through them. The loss in quality is not that great.

Let us know what you decide on, and post some results, Lots of knowledgeable helpful folks on this site

12-21-2020, 08:22 PM - 1 Like   #20
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I never cared for the tubes or reversing rings or even the Raynox solutions...

for me, it was easy enough to find decent macro lenses for less than $100, usually fully-manual lenses, but still great lenses for decent prices....

Vivitar (Komine) 55mm f2.8 - found in many mounts, including K-mount

Vivitar (Cosina) 100mm f3.5 - this one is so good, Pentax even sold it with their name on it...
12-21-2020, 08:46 PM   #21
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wow thank you for all this feedback! late here so will have a proper think and get back to you with a couple of queries tomorrow. Re 'you will need a lens with an aperture ring to use them.' I assume my bog standard 55 kit lens and my 300 lens do not have this? Edit -just saw the reply above thanks

I do intend to consider a dedicated macro lens later, i just want to have a play around first and see if it is for me. I assume i will need a tripod even for using cheapo techniques like extension tubes?

Last edited by Rococo; 12-21-2020 at 08:51 PM.
12-21-2020, 09:44 PM   #22
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Another option is the old De-glassing a teleconverter trick. Older tamron PZ-AF TC and the like TC's are not very good for their purpose, but, if you simply remove the elements, (easy to do, just unscreww the retaining collars front and back and they fall out) you get a full auto extension tube, that supports AF screwdrive, and if you have one that has the contacts in it for the old powerzooms of the day, those contacts will support AF in SDM lenses. I have used mine on my DA*16-50, DA*50-135, and on DFA*70-200, as well as on my Macro lenses DFA100 and DFA50 to get even closer and higher magnification, it also gives me much closer focus on my Telephoto lenses, not shooting macro persay, but allowing me to get in really close with a 300mm or 600mm and focus.

12-22-2020, 05:57 AM - 1 Like   #23
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Autofocus and high magnification macro work? On a low budget as well? Two words: forget it. Depth of field is razor thin, so you have to do it yourself.
12-22-2020, 07:03 AM   #24

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Most cheap extension tubes require an aperture ring, which your lenses don't have, to work properly (without aperture ring you can only shoot pictures with fully closed aperture -> requires good lighting and has bad image quality because of diffraction)
12-22-2020, 07:39 AM - 2 Likes   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by aslyfox Quote
And I think you exaggerated the price difference
$15 to $150 is 10 to one. The "read everything ever written on the topic" approach without intelligent insight into what exactly people should be looking at, is tolerated at least by folks like myself because some people to seem to appreciate it. Even if more experienced users may find it irritating. Some newbies just like reading about photography and apparently have lots of time to sift through this stuff, even if many could come up with better responses off the tops of their heads.

It would seem to be about learning styles. For some "go read everything ever written" is appropriate. For others, they'll want to know about things they can physically touch and experiment with and are looking for advice from experienced users that will save them the time and effort of sifting through and evaluating written opinions. Especially since the level of reading comprehension of the knowledge seeker and their ability to correctly interpret written evaluations is unknown.

However people being unable to see out of their own learning style is also pretty typical. There are 40 different learning styles, most people believe there is one... their own. And they encourage others to learn the way they do, even though in many case that's impossible.

I remember back when I was teaching, when referring some students to a book, they'd respond, "If I could figure this out from the book, what do I need you for? Do your job."

Some of my best students had limited reading skills, but they understood how cameras worked when the functions were demonstrated for them.

When you're pid to do the job, you're expected to be able to use strategies that may not make sense to yourself as a learner, but make sense to your students. Hands on, visual, auditory, reading, mimic and practice, all learning styles. Readers are a small percentage of the total. Straight reading is rarely an effective solution.

Personally I think the O.P. is looking for sometime cheap he can play with where if it isn't the right thing, it hasn't cost him a lot. Extension tubes in my experience are the logical solution. My ex took my extension tubes when we split. I have many times spent a few minutes devising strategies as to how I might get them back, even if they just sat on a shelf 364 days a year.

Last edited by normhead; 12-22-2020 at 08:12 AM.
12-22-2020, 07:52 AM   #26

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I have the 62mm Nikon achromat supplementary screw-in lenses, which are similar to Raynox, except for attaching them. I've also purchased two used macro lenses and they are superior in every way, except that I don't always have one with me, and they aren't long enough for some situations (mine are under 100mm.) I would encourage looking for a macro lens with "A" capabilities, not necessarily AF, although a macro would likely be f2.8 and possibly applicable for other purposes where you want limited depth of field (if you do portraits, for example.) For some of those applications AF might be more important. There seem to be fairly common and affordable 50mm macro lenses. As you get longer, prices seem to get higher. I would skip the tubes, teleconverters, etc.

Incidentally the supplementary lenses have the advantage of not reducing light, which is important for focusing/viewing, and can give good performance in the middle of the frame. However they aren't the best for some types of macro where you need a flat field and/or corner sharpness; that's really where the dedicated macro lenses excel.
12-22-2020, 08:58 AM   #27
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Extension tubes are the best quality but you lose auto focus. Two element close-up lenses don't get you in as close but you do retain auto focus. In reality, auto focus isn't that useful but it can make things less scary to begin with. Canon and Nikon make/made cemented doublet close up lenses and others do also. It is a thicker heavier close up lens.
12-22-2020, 09:10 AM   #28
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the main advantage of extension tubes is that they are very cheap so easy to have a quick play around without costing too much. I bought a very cheap set for about 6 which screw together, and have the k mounts at each end. This means that if you can find a cheap lens of what ever mount, you could buy two sets of tubes one with the k mount and another with whatever mount and use the other mount on the lens end.
If you get excited about potential results then would be the time to invest in more expensive gear.

Using tubes with a plain viewfinder was always a bit difficult due to the darkening of the viewfinder but with live view this shouldn't be a problem any more.
12-22-2020, 09:39 AM - 2 Likes   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaxus Quote
Extension tubes are the best quality but you lose auto focus. Two element close-up lenses don't get you in as close but you do retain auto focus. In reality, auto focus isn't that useful but it can make things less scary to begin with. Canon and Nikon make/made cemented doublet close up lenses and others do also. It is a thicker heavier close up lens.
An autofocus macro the focal plane didn't end up extending to the front edge of the mushroom, that's actually pretty common for AF macros.

Live view and Maual focus with focus confirm.... a perfect alignment of the focal plane every time.

I'm not sure people should be recommending lenses that are AF for macro unless the intended use is not really macro images, and a lot of us do use our macro lenses as primes for general use. But for strictly macro, not having AF will force you to make the best use of the lens.

Last edited by normhead; 12-22-2020 at 10:01 AM.
12-22-2020, 09:55 AM   #30

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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Did you read RioRico's Cheap Macro article?

CHEAP MACRO -- Buying or exploiting a lens for ultraclose work -

Autofocus extension tubes for K-mount do exist, but they don't fit the definition of cheap. These were in a lot on Shopgoodwill, and I ended up paying about the original sticker price
I've got that same set of tubes, but they don't provide any auto-focus coupling, just auto-exposure at about 1/10 of the price

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