Using a Macro Lens with Extension Tubes

Most of us use extension tubes and macro lenses separately for our close-up photography needs. As regular readers will know, I like to push my camera gear to see what will happen. This article features a selection of hand-held images captured by combining an M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens with extension tubes. All of the photographs in this article were created at the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16 mm Kenko extension tube, f/8, 1/200, ISO-2500, subject distance 215 mm

I began my morning by combining my M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens with a 16 mm Kenko extension tube. This increases the maximum magnification effect by 27% (16 mm / 60 mm).

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16 mm Kenko extension tube, f/8, 1/200, ISO-6400, subject distance 245 mm

The longer the length of the extension tubes used, the more light that a photographer will lose. I did my best to select photo subjects that were in decent light. Sometimes one simply captures photographs as opportunities present themselves as you can see by the EXIF data.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16 mm and 10 mm Kenko extension tubes, f/8, 1/320, ISO-6400, subject distance 260 mm, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

Later on I added the 10 mm Kenko extension tube to my camera assembly by stacking it on the 16 mm tube. This increased the maximum magnification effect to 44% (26 mm / 60 mm). Just for the fun of it, I tried a number of images using the OM-D E-M1X’s Hand-held Hi Res Mode. I was pleasantly surprised with how well it worked.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16 mm Kenko extension tube, f/8, 1/400, ISO-5000, subject distance 225 mm

Using a macro lens with extension tubes is an interesting creative experiment. One does need to be very steady with hand-holding technique. The excellent IBIS system with the OM-D E-M1X certainly helped!

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16 mm and 10 mm Kenko extension tubes, f/8, 1/320, ISO-6400, subject distance 255 mm, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

Here are a few more of the images I captured that morning. When photographing butterflies I find the most pleasing angles are typically from the side, or a front quarter view.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16 mm and 10 mm Kenko extension tubes, f/8, 1/50, ISO-5000, subject distance 235 mm, Hand-held Hi Res Mode

When selecting extension tubes, it is important to choose automatic tubes that work well with your camera and provide auto focusing and auto exposure.  Also look for tubes with metal lens mounts as they are far more durable.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16 mm and 10 mm Kenko extension tubes, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-3200, subject distance 235 m

I recently purchased a set of Kenko DG Extension Tubes for Micro Four Thirds. There are two tubes (10 mm and 16 mm) in the set. They can be used separately or in combination.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro with 16 mm and 10 mm Kenko extension tubes, f/4, 1/200, ISO-3200, subject distance 255 mm

The Kenko tubes were more expensive than other brands, but had the features and build I wanted. Using a macro lens with extension tubes can work very well for those times when you want more magnification effect.

If you have a macro lens as well as some extension tubes, but have never tried combining them… give it a go! Using a macro lens with extension tubes can be a lot of fun! I will be doing some experimentation using extension tubes with some of my other M.Zuiko lenses. Future articles will follow.

Technical Note:
All photographs in this article were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Image 2 was slightly cropped. All other photographs are displayed as 100% captures without any cropping.

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