How to choose right extension tube for your camera?
Macro Photography
February 2, 2018


The extension tube is an attachment used between the body of the camera and the lens. There is no glass involved so there is no optical disturbance in the quality of the image. The Extension tube helps to get closer to the subject beyond minimum focusing distance of the lens. You can also fill the frame with more of it, and still achieve your focus. The extension tube not only helps you to get closer but also limits how far a subject can be from the lens.

Top Lens Extension Tubes

Since extension tubes will allow photographers to get closer to the object, it helps you achieve much greater magnification to produce photographs that possess detailed shot. Some of the buying factors you should consider include the magnification of extension tubes, the length and durability. Following are some known tubes:

  •  Kenko and its Macro Automatic Extension Tube Set DG
  •  Canon EF 12 II Extension Tube
  •  Xit XTETC and its Auto Focus Macro Extension Tube Set
  • Olympus EX-25mm Macro Extension Tube
  • Fotodiox and its Macro Extension Tube Set
  • Zeikos ZE-CVAFC Auto Focus Macro Extension Tube
  • Fotodiox Canon EOS and its Macro Extension Tube Set
  • Vivitar 3-Set Macro Extension Tube



The connection between the focal length of the lens and the size of an extension tube will determine how close you can get to a subject while creating focus. The closer you can get to the subject, the greater the magnification.

A simple mathematical equation helps you determine what level of magnification you will achieve when using a specific size extension tube on a specific lens:

Additional magnification = Extension tube’s length in millimetres divided by the focal length of a lens.

A 50 mm extension tube combined with a 50 mm lens gives you a 1:1 ratio. Likewise, a 25 mm extension tube combined with a 50mm lens can offer a 1:2 or half size representation of your subject.

A 1:2 ratio is good for close up photography and although it’s not technically same as macro photography, it does look very similar. Macro photography is ideal for subjects that are very small, which have intricate details. However, for some subjects and scenarios you may prefer less magnification in order to show more of the environment.

Extension tubes come in several varieties but they are usually discussed in three distinct categories.


These are the most expensive kinds of extension tubes and they are manufactured by the manufacturer of your camera, like Canon, Nikon, Sony or Fuji. They allow full autofocus when used with compatible lenses, and you can communicate with the lens via the camera in order to change the aperture or engage image stabilization.


Third-party tubes are any ones that are not made by the manufacturer of your camera or lens. Popular third party extension tube manufacturers include Kenko, Vello and Neewer, the most popular ones being the Kenko tubes. When it comes to buying lenses, many people really prefer to buy the ones that are made by the brand that makes their camera, and in many cases (but not all), these do tend to be of a higher quality. They are always much cheaper than OEM tubes, typically 50% of the cost or less


The next type of tube you can buy is even cheaper than the previous ones, and there are many Chinese brands that sell them for prices as low as $10. These kinds of tubes do not have any electronic contacts in the mount, so you can’t autofocus with the lens, and you can’t even adjust your aperture because the camera has no way of communicating with the lens.




  • In order to adjust the aperture when using these contactless, cheaper extension tubes, you must follow this procedure:
  • Mount the lens directly on the camera
  • In aperture priority or manual mode, select the aperture you want to use in your image
  • Hold down the DOF preview button on the camera. This causes the aperture to engage to the chosen value
  • Whilst holding the DOF preview button, remove the lens from the camera. This causes the aperture to stick at the requested value
  • Mount your extension tubes to the lens
  • Connect the whole lot to the camera body again
  • Your first set of extension tubes will be just such a set, and using them once before deciding to buy some that included electronic contacts instead.



By now you’ve come to the same conclusion about extension tubes that; these things are very useful, and highly affordable! There are very few photography accessories out there that can make such a vast difference to an image for such a small amount of money. When you take into consideration the fact that they also weigh very little, making them easy to carry.

Extension Tube Advantages

  • Often minimal loss in quality due to lack of optical elements.
  • Cheaper than buying a dedicated macro lens.
  • Light weight and easy to pack compared to carrying a dedicated macro lens.
  • Stackable to provide magnification options depending on your subject.


Stackable to provide magnification options depending on your subject.


Extension Tube Disadvantages

  • A lens can’t focus at infinity with an extension tube on it.
  • Minimal effect to magnification on longer focal lengths.
  • Can cause vignetting at wide apertures and stack heights.
  • Increases the effective f-stop of the lens, thereby requiring a longer shutter speed or higher ISO to compensate.


If you like nature photography then extension tubes can come in very handy for photographing small animals or plants, and if you’re a travel photographer than they are great for picking up detail shots of food using your existing travel zoom lens, or a fast prime.




Macro Photography
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