How To Take Macro Photos: Extension Tubes vs Macro Filter vs Reverse Ring – Comparison
This photographic hint will give you a look at three cheap and easy ways to make macro photo without special macro lens. We will demonstrate and compare three accessories that will turn any standard lens of your DSLR camera in macro lens: Extension Tube, Macro Filter and Reverse Ring. You can evaluate their work and choose the best option for yourself.
The fact is that the special macro lenses are very expensive. And usually, it makes no sense to buy a lens in order to make just a few photos with it. Therefore, we offer you to choose one of these cheap accessories for macro photography, which we will compare in this review.
1. Extension Tubes. They are screwed between the lens and the camera body. They are of two types: with auto focus (AF) and without auto focus. The difference is that the auto focus Extension Tubes will set focus themselves; set the necessary values for aperture, exposure and ISO. Such Extension Tubes cost about $20. Non AF Extension Tubes are much cheaper, about $ 5. But you will have to take pictures in manual mode, setting all parameters yourself.
Extension Tubes have a big advantage – they are dismantled into three parts. So you can screw only one or two parts, adjusting the size of macro.
The big disadvantage of Extension Tubes is that the lens should be very close to the object you are photographing. If you make a picture indoors, then by putting lens very close to the object you will block the light. If you want to take pictures outdoors, for example a bee on a flower, it will be too difficult to do, because you might scare it.
Here is a sample of photo, which is made with the use of Extension Tubes:
2. Macro Filter (close-up lens). This filter is simply screwed on thread of a lens filter. These filters are very popular, because for their use there’s no need to detach the lens from the camera body. It should be noted that these filters can slightly spoil the image in a photo, for example, make it less sharp or slightly distort it. This is because to a complex optical scheme that is in your lens, you add this Macro Filter with your glass. These filters can be with different magnification factor. And the more this magnification is, the less quality of the photo can be.
The great advantage of such a filter is that the lens continues to work automatically with it (though, most likely, the lens won’t be able to find focus automatically).
The price of such Macro Filter is around $15.
Here is a sample of photo, which is made with the use of Macro Filter (close-up lens):
3. Reverse Ring. This is the most unusual way to do macro photo with a standard kit lens. And not a lot of photographers-beginners know about this accessory. With the help of Reverse Ring you can attach the lens to the camera backwards. It looks a little bit funny, but you can get a very powerful macro picture. Of course, you will not get any kind of automatic mode, because the lens will be with chips outwardly.
Also it should be noted that while using the Reverse Ring, the focus ring will not work. The only way to catch the focus on the object is pulling back or bringing forward the camera to it. Unlike Extension Tubes, the distance to the object is bigger in three or four times (about 6 sm), which is more convenient.
Such ring costs about only $2.
Here is a sample of photo, which is made with the use of Reverse Ring:
Among these three options of accessories for macro photos, our choice is Reverse Ring. We believe that this ring causing the least damage to the picture. The lens rapidity is not lost. The distance from the lens to the object you photograph allows to avoid blocking the light. And its price leaves behind other competitors.
Also do not forget that you can experiment and combine these accessories. Try to connect simultaneously Extension Tubes and Macro Filter or just use the two sets of Extension Tubes. The results may surprise you.