Thursday, April 26, 2012

Using Macro Extension Tube for Nikon

Yes, I am still using my manual macro tube, and this is my second blog post about it. I had no plans of writing another but due to a recent "discovery", I am beginning to really love macro photography. Before I go any further, let me remind you that I am a Nikon user, but of course Canon users will get the idea all the same.
So, that is this discovery I am talking about? In my first post, I mentioned about how inconvenient it is to use a manual macro tube on lenses without aperture ring. I own a 18-55mm G lens, and as a first time macro tube user, I was disappointed due to the loss of light you can barely see your subject. This is because G lenses are always in their narrowest aperture (smallest opening) by default. Focusing was impossible so all your shots are hit and miss. Until I discovered that it is possible to manually open my lens aperture ring. By sticking a small folded piece of paper on the aperture slider (I'm not really sure about the name) to block the aperture from closing, I managed to open it wide. Voila! Let there be light! I can now clearly see my subject through the  lens.

Piece of paper blocking the aperture slider

My DIY Built-in Flash Diffuser for Macro Shots.
Just a simple plastic plate with a hole at the center.
You can use Styrofoam plate but there will be less light.
For plastic plate, I set my flash to 1/2 power, with styro, set it to full power.

So that's it, my easy workaround for using the macro extension tube. Just remember though to move your subject closer at about 2-3 inches when on 50mm focal length, and even closer for lower focal lengths, but it will just produce bad results since only minimal parts of your subject will be in focus. It is recommended you just stick with 50mm and up.

Note: Some people are still asking about "No Lens attached" especially with beginners. When using Macro Extension Tubes (manual type), everything is manually set, including your flash. Set your camera to manual mode, turn on your flash set to manual at around 1/2 power, attach your DIY diffuser (above photo), then go and fire it off on your subject, remember to get close in order to get a good focus.

It is slightly difficult to focus on your subject when you use all 3 macro tubes. Sometimes you get shots with out of focus areas while some areas are tack sharp. So what I did was I removed the 14mm tube and just used the 28mm and 7mm tubes. This will give me less magnification but at least out-of-focus areas are minimized in my photos.
- For moving subjects, like spiders, I usually set my shutter speed to 1/200, which is the fastest I can get with flash turned on.
- I always set my ISO to 100 for sharp images, during my macro shots at night, I set it to 200-400.

Here are sample shots, well, they're not the best, but they'll get better in time given a better subject. hehe..

Small butterfly (approx. 1 inch in size). No cropping made.
Used all 3 tubes (49mm), notice some out of focus areas on eyes and legs.
It is actually laying its eggs when I took the shot. No cropping made.

Some kind of spider. Used a plastic plate wrapped around my lens as a diffuser, as with all my macro shots.

A cute larva. Only used 2 tubes (28mm and 7mm). Out-of-focus areas are less visible.

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