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  • An idiot's guide to using Extension tubes

    Can anybody offer an idiot's guide to using them please?

    I bought some cheap extension tubes from Fleabay, got them last summer and then lost the computer for several months and have never taken them out of the box. It's a set of three tubes and an adapter ring to attach them to the camera. I'm not expecting miracles, but it might be fun to see what they can do.

    As the weather's pretty dire I'm getting a bit stir crazy and would like to try them out, but I've completely forgotten everything I thought I knew about how to use them.

    They're just basic tubes, no electronics. I've got the Zuiko 14-42 and 40-150 lenses.

    Also, do you think they would work, via an adapter, with older primes? I've got an Olympus 50mm 1:1.8 and a Bell & Howell 28mm 1:2.8 which I was given by a friend who found them in a relative's cupboard. I haven't tried either of them yet, not entirely sure what I should do.
    - my pictures -

  • #2
    Re: An idiot's guide to using Extension tubes

    Hi Ellie,

    if the extension tubes are designed to fit a 4/3rds lens and fit the body via an adapter I'm not sure how they work. I've seen ones on ebay advertised as being for 4/3rds but as there's no means of communicating with the body the Olympus non-SWD lens can't focus, even manually nor can the aperture be adjusted.

    Your best bet (and probably cheapest) would be to get either an Olympus EX-25 which will allow your current lens to work properly or alternatively look for an Olympus OM fit manual focus Macro lens and use that if it'll fit your extension tubes. Ideally you'd use Olympus OM fit extension tubes, an OM fit manual focus lens and an OM>4/3rds adapter.

    Richard
    In theory there's no difference between theory and practice but in practice there is.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: An idiot's guide to using Extension tubes

      Hi Ellie,

      Unfortunatelly, you have been conned by the eBay seller (or fooled yourself) to believe you can use 4/3 extension tubes for macro. Yes, you can, but not with any quality, since you must use the lens wide open all the time. Without electric contacts between the lens and the camera you can't get exif information (not important at all), you can't get AF to work (not very important), and lastly, you can't get the aperture to work, so you can't stop down (VERY IMPORTANT). The camera will still work, so you can take images. Focusing with extension tubes is almost always done manually, so you can do that by moving you together with the camera in and out until you have the right focus. But without the ability to control aperture you will have problems with sharpness and the already at any aperture hair thin DOF becomes the thinnest.

      There is just one one way to get around this if you want to keep your tubes, not want to spend money on the EX-25. That is, get an adapter and use manual lenses. Your OM 50 mm will give you 1:1 using a 25 mm extension piece, more than 1:1 if you use more tubes, less if you use less.

      If you reverse your OM 50 mm using a lens reverser you will get even better results and more magnification, and also a bit longer working distance. Beware, the working distance will be very short, near the lens.

      In my opinion, you will get rest results using the OM lens, but it is possible the 28 mm is even better. Regardless of which, the 28 mm will give you the best magnification. The kit zooms will not work well IMO, but taste and requirements vary, some people like what those lenses produce using extension tubes.

      Have a look on my blog, there are a few posts regarding macro. Drop me a message if you need more explanation.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: An idiot's guide to using Extension tubes

        As I like macro work, one of the first buys for my E500 was the EX-25 tube. Quite honestly, I don't think it's anywhere near worth the money, and I hardly ever use it. In fact, I don't think I've ever taken a 'keeper' with it. I've now got a Zuiko 35mm Macro lens and find that far more useful.

        When you've got the EX-25 on, as sure as eggs are eggs, you'll miss an opportunity where you can't focus far enough away! At least with the 35mm macro you can still use it as a normal lens.

        Jim Ford

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: An idiot's guide to using Extension tubes

          Originally posted by Jim Ford View Post
          As I like macro work, one of the first buys for my E500 was the EX-25 tube. Quite honestly, I don't think it's anywhere near worth the money, and I hardly ever use it. In fact, I don't think I've ever taken a 'keeper' with it. I've now got a Zuiko 35mm Macro lens and find that far more useful.

          When you've got the EX-25 on, as sure as eggs are eggs, you'll miss an opportunity where you can't focus far enough away! At least with the 35mm macro you can still use it as a normal lens.

          Jim Ford
          Jim, I must disagree. The EX-25 is designed primarily for the ED50/f2.0 Macro lens. With that lens it works just fine, but as usual, some practice is needed. With the 35 mm it must be very difficult to use, since the lens in iself is just too large, while the focal length is very short. The working distance, which is already from the start very short, is reduced to almost nothing (few centimeters), which of course is a problem in many situations. However, with the 50mm macro, it works fine. Without the EX-25

          I would not have been able to take this image of a Silverfish, and I actually think you would not be able to take it without a lot of difficulties with the 35 mm lens, because of the short working distance. The Silverfish are frightened as soon as they sense light, so I had to take it in almost total darkness. Still, the eye lashes can clearly be counted...





          The EX-25 is not displayed in the EXIF, because I hacked mine and it is actually 41 mm long now, but believe me, it was there inbetween the lens and the camera.

          Of course I agree, the EX-25 is overpriced, I think it should only contain pass through contacts, no electronics, but since no third party manufacturer makes tubes with contacts, the price is what it is and I am glad I bought it.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: An idiot's guide to using Extension tubes

            Thanks. I like the idea of macro which is why I got these. I'd tried using some magnifying filters, the results were satisfying but quite soft. Luckily I wasn't kidded into believing I was getting something that could communicate with the camera. I was advised by a friend that forking out almost a hundred pounds for Kenko tubes wouldn't make a lot of difference to what they could do, and these were very low budget.

            There are people around that play with cardboard tubes with some success, this link is to an old article, but it's the sort of thing I mean. I was ready to try them out as soon as they arrived, but I couldn't because it's hard to see results from a digital camera when your computer breaks, and we were without ours for a long time. It's the way things go, everything breaks at the same time, we needed a cooker and a working car more than a computer.

            I probably used the wrong word, I suppose it isn't an adapter but a connector. There's a mechanical attachment that goes onto the camera body, the tubes screw onto that in whatever combination, then the lens goes onto another connector. They look about the same as these

            It would be great to be able to have the Oly Ex-25, but it's a bit expensive, and I'm not entirely sure I'd use it very often. Those pictures of the silverfish are astonishing, I'm amazed you managed to capture the pictures because they scurry into the darkness so quickly.

            If I try these tubes I won't be able to autofocus and so on, but is there any reason why I couldn't set up the camera without the tubes, then add them and click the button? I really ought to try it out - "suck it and see" but I think I'm more worried about breaking something on my camera than getting bad results.

            The camera can't communicate with the OM lenses either. Would I need to set it on manual?

            I really do feel rather dim.
            - my pictures -

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: An idiot's guide to using Extension tubes

              Hi Ellie,

              I assume that when you fit the tubes to the camera you can then fit your Olympus Digital les to the other end of the tube?

              If thats the case then the camera will meter ok, just set the camera to 'A'. The only problem is that you won't be able to focus the lens as even MF needs to have power from the camera. As Olyflyer said though you can move the whole camera backwards or forwards untill the images is 'In Focus' when seen through the viewfinder. It will be pretty tricky though as at the amount of magnification you'll have very little movement is needed to go from focussed to Un-focussed.

              If you really want to get into Macro on the cheap I would recommend getting the following.

              Olympus OM 50mm f/1.8
              OM>4/3rds Adapter
              Set of OM Macro Extension Tubes.

              All can be got on ebay. I got my OM>4/3rds adapter from a seller called Roxsen. The Macro Tubes don't need to be genuine Olympus ones, 3rd party ones are fine, just make sure they're OM fit. The 50mm f/1.8 lenses are plentiful and cheap. Don't bother with the 50mm f/1.4 as it's much more expensive. The 50mm f/1.8 also works well on an E-System camera as a fast 100mm lens so thats a bonus.

              The E-400 will be able to meter using the above set-up and you can set the aperture manually on the lens as well as focus manually. If you then decide that you like Macro work you can add a set of Olympus Macro Bellows which will work with the above lens.

              Richard
              In theory there's no difference between theory and practice but in practice there is.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: An idiot's guide to using Extension tubes

                I am a big fan of DIY projects, but I would not go through the hastle of makeing an extension tube, or a macro bellows like thing your link shows. The work involved is just too much and the results are unsure. What you have is enough to 'taste' macro. In theory, you can actually use your tubes with any lens, but you are unable to set aperture. There is a work around, but then the aperture is fixed to a value, which can cause focusing problems due to the fact that the viewfinder becomes too dim. However, in reality, you can only use shorter tubes with the 14-42 lens, and only from around 25 mm focal length. You must experiment, which is the best part of digital photography. Take a shot, if too bad, take a new one at no additional costs.

                The problem is that the kit zomms are phisically too long in regard to their focal length. An OM 50 mm is better and 100% usable with the extension tubes you have if you get an OM -> 4/3 adapter, like the MF-1 and put it on the tubes you have. This is what I would do if I was in your situation right now. There is even another possibility if you don't have an OM to 4/3adapter. Simply set the OM lens aperture to say, f/8.0 (or another value) and hold the lens in front of the adapter which is mounted on the camera. At the same time, try to keep the DOF preview button on the lens pressed to keep the aperture closed. Move your body nearer and nearer until you get the subject in focus and then press the shutter release. Be prepared, the longer the extension tube, the shorter the focusing distance becomes, until the focusing point is actually inside the lens tube, where it becomes impossible to focus. Of course, if you have an adapter, this is much easier, since the adapter keeps the aperture closed.

                You can set the camera to Aperture priority and let the camera select the shutter speed. Be prepared for longer shutter speeds since with extension tubes you lose a lot of light. Of course, fully manual mode works as well, and naturally, using the camera in Aperture mode with the tube and/or an OM lens will NOT let you select aperture using the camera dial, you must set the aperture on the lens aperture ring. The LCD display will show --- instead of an aperture.

                You must always focus manually when using an extension tube, even with the EX-25, the largest part of fucusing is done by moving the body to get the focus right.

                My advice is to get a good book and read about macro photography. The writer does not have to use Olympus camera, as every camera works the same way in this regard. I don't know where you live, Dillons in London on Gower Street is a very nice book shop with a large stock of books on photography, one among many other subjects.

                I hope somebody else chips in here and will not leave you in the dark. Macro photography is really great fun, which you already know. As soon as you undrestand the basics everything will become clear.

                Good luck.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: An idiot's guide to using Extension tubes

                  Originally posted by OlyFlyer View Post
                  Jim, I must disagree. The EX-25 is designed primarily for the ED50/f2.0 Macro lens. With that lens it works just fine, but as usual, some practice is needed. With the 35 mm it must be very difficult to use, since the lens in iself is just too large, while the focal length is very short. The working distance, which is already from the start very short, is reduced to almost nothing (few centimeters), which of course is a problem in many situations. However, with the 50mm macro, it works fine. Without the EX-25

                  I would not have been able to take this image of a Silverfish, and I actually think you would not be able to take it without a lot of difficulties with the 35 mm lens, because of the short working distance. The Silverfish are frightened as soon as they sense light, so I had to take it in almost total darkness. Still, the eye lashes can clearly be counted...





                  The EX-25 is not displayed in the EXIF, because I hacked mine and it is actually 41 mm long now, but believe me, it was there inbetween the lens and the camera.

                  Of course I agree, the EX-25 is overpriced, I think it should only contain pass through contacts, no electronics, but since no third party manufacturer makes tubes with contacts, the price is what it is and I am glad I bought it.
                  I think the EX-25 has circuitry to identify it to the camera and so may even have a simple CPU - maybe even firmware.

                  Ian
                  Founder and editor of:
                  Olympus UK E-System User Group (http://e-group.uk.net)
                  Four Thirds User (http://fourthirds-user.com)
                  Digital Photography Now (http://dpnow.com)
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                  Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
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                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: An idiot's guide to using Extension tubes

                    Originally posted by R MacE View Post
                    Hi Ellie,

                    I assume that when you fit the tubes to the camera you can then fit your Olympus Digital les to the other end of the tube?

                    If thats the case then the camera will meter ok, just set the camera to 'A'. The only problem is that you won't be able to focus the lens as even MF needs to have power from the camera. As Olyflyer said though you can move the whole camera backwards or forwards untill the images is 'In Focus' when seen through the viewfinder. It will be pretty tricky though as at the amount of magnification you'll have very little movement is needed to go from focussed to Un-focussed.

                    If you really want to get into Macro on the cheap I would recommend getting the following.

                    Olympus OM 50mm f/1.8
                    OM>4/3rds Adapter
                    Set of OM Macro Extension Tubes.

                    All can be got on ebay. I got my OM>4/3rds adapter from a seller called Roxsen. The Macro Tubes don't need to be genuine Olympus ones, 3rd party ones are fine, just make sure they're OM fit. The 50mm f/1.8 lenses are plentiful and cheap. Don't bother with the 50mm f/1.4 as it's much more expensive. The 50mm f/1.8 also works well on an E-System camera as a fast 100mm lens so thats a bonus.

                    The E-400 will be able to meter using the above set-up and you can set the aperture manually on the lens as well as focus manually. If you then decide that you like Macro work you can add a set of Olympus Macro Bellows which will work with the above lens.

                    Richard
                    Thank you Richard for helping out and chipping in here. Actually, she already has everything needed, except maybe the OM to 4/3 adapter. The tubes she has are fully usable, no need to buy OM extension tubes. The only difference is that now, she has to fit the tubes on the camera first and then the OM adapter and lastly the OM lens. If she would get the OM tubes, she would need to fit the OM adapter to the camera then the OM rings and lastly the OM lens. There is no advantage in getting OM extension tubes in this situation. The OM 50/1.8 lens is the one she has, according to the opening post.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: An idiot's guide to using Extension tubes

                      Originally posted by Ian View Post
                      I think the EX-25 has circuitry to identify it to the camera and so may even have a simple CPU - maybe even firmware.

                      Ian
                      Yes, it has. Mine is removed and is now in a plastic bag. The circuitry prevents stacking and use of certain lenses. I've done that to be able to use it any way I want and combine with other OM accesory, like my bellows.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: An idiot's guide to using Extension tubes

                        Originally posted by OlyFlyer View Post
                        Thank you Richard for helping out and chipping in here. Actually, she already has everything needed, except maybe the OM to 4/3 adapter.
                        Indeed, you are quite correct, I missed that.

                        Thanks for sorting things out.

                        Regards, Richard
                        In theory there's no difference between theory and practice but in practice there is.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: An idiot's guide to using Extension tubes

                          Originally posted by OlyFlyer View Post
                          Yes, it has. Mine is removed and is now in a plastic bag. The circuitry prevents stacking and use of certain lenses. I've done that to be able to use it any way I want and combine with other OM accesory, like my bellows.


                          I'm impressed by your work on the EX-25, I've read your write up on your website. Very interesting indeed.

                          Regards, Richard
                          In theory there's no difference between theory and practice but in practice there is.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: An idiot's guide to using Extension tubes

                            Thank you all so very much for taking me step by step through this, it actually looks a lot easier than I thought. I'm sure your clear explanations will be used by other people too

                            Yes, I've got an OM to 4/3 adapter, so I should really be up and running.

                            I promise I'll let you see some results - soon, once it stops raining for long enough at the right time for me to be able to get outside and take some pictures.

                            I expect my next project will be to get some sort of lightbox and the right sort of lighting for it
                            - my pictures -

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