The What Gear? Answer. And Everything That You Wanted to Know About Extension Tubes But Were Afraid to Ask … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The What Gear? Answer. And Everything That You Wanted to Know About Extension Tubes But Were Afraid to Ask ...


I finished watching both Thursday games on Tivo on Friday the morning. The Cubs beat the still hapless Nats in a crazy game in which an umpiring error led directly to several Cubs runs and the loss of the game. The Panthers had many chances to beat the Eagles but simply did not come through. I worked on several blog posts and began reviewing a book for a friend. I swam a full mile in one sitting at midday; I started in a full downpour and ended in bright sun.

I am still looking for a few more folks for San Diego #2. If you are considering this trip and might be interested in adding on a free day of instruction before the IPT begins please shoot me an e-mail.

The Streak

Today makes seventy-nine days in a row with a new educational blog post! This blog post took less than an hour to prepare. With all of my upcoming free time (or not …), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of (I think) four hundred eighty something … Good health and good internet connections willing.

2017 in San Diego was a very good year ….

2018 San Diego 3 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART IPT #2: Sunday, JAN 28 thru and including a morning session on Wednesday, JAN 31, 2018: 3 1/2 days: $1699. Limit: 8: Openings: 7

Meet and Greet at 6:30pm on the evening before the IPT begins; Saturday, Jan 27, 2018.

San Diego IPT #2: Shorter and Less Expensive!

Please remember: I go with one.

Click here for details.


Booking.Com came through for me twice again recently with both the DeSoto Fall IPT and next July’s UK Puffins, Gannets, and Bempton Pre-trip room reservations. And all the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

This image was created alongside my house two days after Irma visited us. I used the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 174mm), the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, all three extension tubes in the Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG for Canon EOS lenses, and my favorite flower photography body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/20 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB.

Flexi-Zone Single/Rear Button AF on the center of the white flower. Live View for mirror lock-up with the 2-second timer for sharpness.

Spanish Needles: 3/4 inch wildflower

Kenko Extension Tube Set DG for Canon EOS Lenses

In the What Lens and Accessories? blog post here two weeks ago I posted:

You Tell Me …

Take a close look at the image caption above and then make an educated guess and let me know what lens, what focal length, and what accessory or accessories you think I used to create today’s featured image of a relatively small (3/4 inch) flower. Trust me, there is a clue, at least to the lens used. After that, you might be able to figure the rest out. But it won’t be easy.

The Somewhat Strange Answer …

While there were some good guesses, nobody came up with my work-around. Two folks got the lens right; I used the obviously amazingly versatile Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens with the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III. The clue to the lens/TC combo was the f/9 aperture. As noted above, the rest of the rig consisted of all three extension tubes in the Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG for Canon EOS lenses,, and my favorite flower photography body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Extension Tube Basics

Extension tubes are primarily used so that you can get closer to the subject than the minimum focusing distance of the lens normally allows. They are often used with various macro lenses. I began using them with telephoto lenses more than thirty years ago with my Canon FD 400mm f/4.5 (manual focus) lens. Once I started crawling in the mud to get close to shorebirds I found that it was easy to get within nine or ten feet of the birds using the super low approach. The problem was that the lens only focused down to 12 feet. Once I added an FD 25mm extension tube, I was able to focus to less than ten feet and easily fill 3/4 of the frame with a Least Sandpiper. Do understand that once you add an extension tube to the mix that you will not be able to focus on relatively distant subjects. I almost forgot to mention that if you are outside of the lens’s MFD, an extension tube can be used to increase the size of the subject in the frame; they can actually serve as mini-teleconverters.

As the decades progressed, I wound up using both the EF 12mm and the EF 25mm Canon Extension tubes with all of my telephoto lenses up to and including the old 800mm f/5.6L IS. Over the past few years I have not often needed to add an extension tube as the newer telephoto lenses have such remarkable minimum focusing distances; the 600 II focuses down to less than 15 feet, the 500 II to 12.14 feet, and the 100-400 II down to an amazing 3.2 feet. The latter MFD gives the 100-400 the greatest magnification of any Canon telephoto lens: .31X.

Today, I always travel with two EF 12mm Extension Tubes. While I use them on occasion for closer focusing, their main function is to serve as a spacer so that I can stack my 1.4X III TCs with my 2X III TCs. I usually travel with at least two of each TC.

Canon or Kenko Extension Tubes?

The Canon EF 12mm Extension Tube sells for $82.00. The Canon EF 25mm Extension Tube sells for $139.95. The Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG for Canon EOS lenses consists of three extension tubes, a 12mm, a 20mm, and a 36mm. All autofocus and metering functions remain functional. When you first use the Kenko tubes you will likely find the fit snugger than with the Canon tubes. This takes a bit of getting used to but is actually a plus as the Canon lens mounts often get sloppy over time. Oh, the good news, the Kenko set costs $109.00.

Which are sharper, the Canon tubes or the Kenko tubes? Neither. Extension tubes are hollow and do not affect sharpness in any way. Do remember to stop down some when using extension tubes to prevent vignetting.

Nikon Extension Tubes

For decades Nikon did not offer any extension tubes. I knew several Nikon pros who were so frustrated by this that they ripped the guts out of their Nikon TCE 14 teleconverters so that they could use them as extension tubes. Nikon now offers three extension tubes as follows:

  • Nikon 8mm AI Extension Tube PK-11A
  • Nikon 14mm AI Extension Tube PK-12
  • Nikon PK-13 27.5mm AI Extension Tube
  • Amazingly, none of the Nikon tubes support autofocus …

    The Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG (12, 20 & 36mm Tubes) for Nikon Digital and Film Cameras

    Amazingly, the Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG (12, 20 & 36mm Tubes) for Nikon Digital and Film Cameras offers both functional metering and functional autofocus as noted here:

    The Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG is compatible with Nikon DSLR cameras and F mount lenses and is optimized to work with Autofocus lenses. Kenko’s Auto Focus extension tubes are designed with all the circuitry and mechanical coupling to maintain auto focus and TTL auto exposure with most Nikon lenses given there is enough light (at f/5.6 or brighter) to activate the cameras AF system properly.

    Owning a set of these completely Nikon compatible extension tubes would be a huge plus for all Nikon folks.

    Extension Tube Questions …

    If you have a question about extension tubes you are invited to leave a comment to that effect.

    If In Doubt …

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    7 comments to The What Gear? Answer. And Everything That You Wanted to Know About Extension Tubes But Were Afraid to Ask …

    • Artie I have been experimenting with different combos. I have these huge Live Forever Plants in my back yard and the Bee’s keep coming back year after year more and more each year and I sit among them get real close and never got bit. This year I got some real killer images. Even though I have an assortment of Canon Cameras this year I used the Canon 7D Mark II I also used the 100 to 400, and the Canon 100mm Macro Lens, An Induro 2 foot Carbon Fiber Tripod, Sometimes the Canon Flash MT-EX, I use the Canon 24 T Macro Flash TC-80N3 remote. I just sit there firing away. This year there were a few different type Bee’s, Butterfly Moths, Never seen so many in all my life, And this year I even had Wasp that were feeding. I have shots of Carpenter covered from head to toe in pollen. I wish I could post some.

    • avatar Rick

      Artie, I just wanted to say that I support all the favorable comments you have been making about the Canon 100-400 II. I took your advice and took one with me on a recent tour around Namibia and it really is a great wild life multi purpose lens, especially in conditions like Etosha where you don’t want to be changing lens in the dust.

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        Thanks Rick. I hope that you took my advise and used my B&H affiliate link; that is always appreciated.

        with love, artie

      • avatar Rick

        Artie, alas B&H doesn’t work in South Africa, but I did credit you with my purchases when i was in the store on a visit to NYC last year.

    • avatar Pierre Willior

      I would use the 100-400 mm lens with an extender tube. If needed, ok would add a 1.4x teleconverter. Need good light.

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        As above, that would not have gotten you anywhere close enough to photograph the tiny flower relatively large in the frame 🙂

        with love, artie