Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Prickly – Macro Photography and Kenko Extension Tubes

September 9, 2009 5 comments

With this winter approaching I thought I would try something different and get into some Macro Photography. Being that I already had Nikkor’s 105mm f2.8 Macro Lens (Also a great portrait lens) All I needed was some extension tubes and focusing rails to get the REALLY close up shots.

Extension tubes are designed to let a lens focus closer than its normal minimal focusing distance. Getting closer to the subject as the effect of magnifying it allowing more detail to appear in the image.  These tubes allow the photographer to take any lens and virtually turn it into a Macro lens at a fraction of the cost while preserving the optical quality of the base lens.

Being that this was a new area for me to venture into, I wanted to do some research and make an informed purchase. I looked at a few makers of extension tubes and decided to purchase the Kenko DG Extension tube set for my Nikon D700 and D300. The Kenko DG tubes have no optics and are true extension tubes. They come in the same range that the Nikkor tubes come in and have the same  metal Nikon mount featured on the Nikkor tubes. The key difference between the Nikon tubes and the Kenko tubes is that the Kenko tubes have the terminals to allow TTL metering and Autofocus to work through the tube where the Nikon tubes are the same ones they have made for 30 years and dont allow TTL nor autofocus through the tube.

Close up of a weed

Close-up of a weed

Another key difference is construction. The Nikkor tubes are made of the same metal casing that their lenses are made of. The entire tube is metal construction where the Kenko tubes are made of a high-grade impact plastic but are fitted with metal mounts, spring loaded mount clips and the metal terminals for the TTL and Auto focus.

I had read on several sites that some people were afraid to use the Kenko tubes because of the construction. I can tell you that after close inspection I had no doubts about connecting a $1300 lens to these tubes. In fact, not only did I attach the lens to all three, I shot my sample above on my tripod with focusing rails. So, there was a lot of lens hanging off the end of my D700 mount and it functioned perfectly.

Now, having said that, I would not attach a 70-200mm nor the 80-400mm lens on all three tubes with out support provided by a tripod lens support. Both of those lenses are heavy and that would be a 4 inch extension. Thats a great deal of weight being put on the tubes and its unwise to having something that far out from your camera mount with that kind of weight regardless of the manufacturer.

I rate these tubes an 8 on a 10 scale. Why…? simple. They come boxed and connected but there are no caps and no case for the tubes. Luckily I had a few extra body caps and lens caps so I was able to sandwich them together and cap them to prevent dust getting in the tubes and to protect the terminals. Beyond that these things are great. Just use common sense when mounting a big lens on the tubes and enjoy a new world of Macro photography.

Additional Info that relates to the Kenko Tubes

1- When using focusing tubes, you cant focus to infinity. The focusing range of the lens will be limited greatly to very close distances only.

2- There is light fall off when using any extension tubes. This fall off can be 3 f-stops when using multiple tubes together.

3- Nikon “D” information is not transmitted by the tubes. This is due to the fact that the lens is being allowed to focus at a distance it is not programed to focus for by virtue of changing the focusing plane of the lens.

4- These tubes are auto focus compatible with Nikon AF lenses and AF-S lenses.

As always, please send me any feedback or thoughts. If this review helped you please let me know.