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Macro Photography with Extension Tube and Nifty Fifty

Extension Tube

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Macro photography opens up a whole new world that the naked eye can't see. While you can go for the best macro lens available in the market for the best results, be ready shell out close to $1000 or more. There are cheap methods to achieve macro photography and surprisingly they yield comparable results to a high-end macro lens. 

Butterfly Macro with 50mm f1.8 and Extension Tubes

Butterfly Macro with 50mm f1.8 and Extension Tubes

The most common method you will usually hear is the Reverse Lens technique where you just have to mount your lens reverse with an adapter ring which effectively makes the lens act as a macro lens. While this is a good approach and could yield good results, the setback is that you will need to shoot with the lens wide open. I personally did not like that especially since I need to shoot outdoors with insects and places prone to dust. 

I recently heard about extension tubes from a friend. So thought of giving it a try. Extension tubes are nothing but a hollow cylindrical piece of plastic that just creates a gap between your mount and lens essentially allowing the lens to focus on objects much closer to it. 

Honey Bee Macro with 50mm f1.8 and Extension Tubes

Honey Bee Macro with 50mm f1.8 and Extension Tubes

Extension tubes are available in 2 kinds in the market. With and without metal contacts. The one with contacts are around $20 and the ones without contacts are available for around $12. While there are more expensive models available and Canon's own model out there, my personal opinion is it is an overkill. My advice is to get one with contacts so you can control aperture, shutter speed and auto focus with the lens on the tube.

For my experiment, I bought the Insignia Model# NS-DETKCAN from Amazon for $20. It comes in 3 pieces 12mm, 20mm, and 36mm and they are stackable in any combination. The longer the tube more the magnification, but lesser the depth of field, and your lens will be almost touching your subject. So you will have to balance between the combinations to get the right one for you. Especially if your interest is with insects you might want to stay a few inches away. 

My camera is a Canon T6i, and I used a Canon 50mm f1.8 nifty fifty lens on the tubes. Went to a nearby park early in the morning before the sun rays hit. At this time the insects move slower and its easier to focus. Trust me it's not easy. Getting the focus is challenging as the depth of field is short.

Pop-up Flash Diffuser

Pop-up Flash Diffuser

You might also need a flash diffuser. I just used my pop-up flash and a diffuser attachment that you can get for $3 from eBay. You can choose to get a dedicated flash with special diffuser equipment per your affordability. The diffuser is important to get a natural feel for the subject without out washing out details. If you are not using a diffuser just don't use the flash. 

Thanks for reading my article. Do leave comments and questions. This is just a starter and you will learn a lot more while you start your experiment.