Travel by tube…

Many photographers are interested in macro photography, but are put off by the cost of macro lenses.  For example, the Panasonic Leica macro lens for my micro 4/3rds camera costs well over £500.  Getting really close to your subject opens up a whole new world of image possibilities, so how can you do it without breaking the bank?  The answer could be a set of cheap extension tubes.  I’ve recently bought some to test out my theory.  They are made in China and branded as Photga.  The set is two tubes of differing size that can be used alone or stacked together, and they have electrical connections which means you get autofocus.  They move the lens further away from the camera, and thus allow it to focus much closer than normal.

"Ice on car window"

“Ice on car window”

This is an ice crystal on my car side window one frosty morning.  I’ve framed it so a brick wall was reflected in the glass.  This gave the warm red tone to the image background which contrasted well with the cool blue of the ice.  There’s a nice line of sharpness across the frame.

"Petzl head torch lenses"

“Petzl head torch lenses”

The tubes allow you to get very close indeed!  I fitted the longer tube to my 14mm lens and it almost hit the subject before it was in focus.  This brought problems as the lens/camera obscured the light reaching the subject.  The solution was to photograph something with its own light source: in the case an LED head torch beam diffuser.  Looks a bit like the honey cells in a beehive.

"The Kered watch"

“The Kered watch”

The French have a saying, “The mad man sees his name everywhere”.  In this case it’s not my surname, but my first name backwards.  That’s why I bought it.  It’s a vintage/old KERED watch, that was made in France in the 50’s or 60’s.  I used my, very useful, LED head torch as a light source to camera left.  It’s given good shadows on the numbers and hands.

So do the tubes work as a macro lens replacement?  Yes and no.  They do let you get very close, but unlike a true macro lens, once you have fitted them you lose the ability to focus on infinity.  However at around £23 for a set they are great value, so are well worth buying.

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