Extension Tube vs Macro Lens: Key Differences (Which is better)?

Choosing between an extension tube and a macro lens can be tricky.

The pros and cons of both will be covered in this article. You’ll learn about Canon and Nikon extension tubes, as well as Close-up filters.

This article will also cover the differences between Auto and Manual extension tubes, which features are most important when choosing a macro lens.

Let’s begin with auto extension tubes.

Auto extension tubes

Macro lenses come in two forms: manual and auto. Manual ones allow you to focus much closer to your subject while auto extension tubes allow you to focus closer to infinity.

Auto extension tubes are more convenient, but they also limit the range of focus. In some cases, the extension tubes may reduce the maximum aperture range, limiting the lens’s maximum focus distance to a few inches.

This limitation isn’t a problem when you know how to use both types of lenses effectively.

Generally, a macro lens is a professional lens designed to capture the smallest details. The minimum focus distance is often less than a foot. Because macro lenses have a large constant aperture, they can be expensive.

Fortunately, there are many value-priced options that don’t require you to shell out a lot of money for a professional lens.

For those who don’t mind paying a few extra dollars for an extension tube, a 50mm prime lens is a great option.

Auto extension tubes are inexpensive and make macro photography much easier than ever. A standard set of extension tubes for Nikon will increase the lens’ focusing distance by about 68mm.

The tubes also make it easier to focus close to the subject. If you are concerned about the price of an extension tube, consider buying the cheapest one you can find.

Buying a set will save you money in the long run. In addition, you can use the extension tubes individually or in combination to increase the magnification of your subject.

One important difference between the two types of lenses is the f-number. In theory, the diameter of the aperture is the focal length, divided by the f-number. Extension tubes, however, reduce the f-stop, and they will reduce the overall sharpness of the image.

The problem is that extension tubes will only make the lens’s middle area less sharp. In reality, this is not true – they just decrease the overall sharpness.

Manual extension tubes

The choice between a manual extension tube and a macro lens may seem difficult to make. These devices increase the focus zone of a lens, enabling you to get closer to your subject.

They attach between the camera body and lens, and can be used one at a time or stacked to maximize the effect. When you purchase one, be sure to match the connector to the lens and camera body, and then attach the tube to the lens first.

The drawbacks of using extension tubes differ among models. First of all, they cause a significant amount of light loss across the image. This loss is distinct from vignetting.

Another drawback is that an extension tube increases the aperture of the lens, resulting in a darker image with greater depth of field. Unfortunately, the changes are not visible on the camera. Manual extension tubes have been known to cause a wide range of issues.

Another major difference between a manual extension tube and a macro lens is the amount of magnification. An extension tube increases the distance between the camera sensor and the lens, making it easier to get closer to the subject.

The difference is that you will achieve true 1:1 resolution when your extension equals the focal length.

However, these lenses may not be the best choice for you if you prefer true macro photography. If you choose to use a manual extension tube, make sure to research the magnification rating of your macro lens before you make a final decision.

There are many different types of manual extension tubes. You can buy inexpensive extension tubes that allow you to try out different settings for aperture. However, don’t be fooled by their prices.

These tools often end up collecting dust in a closet. If you’re serious about macro photography, you should invest in an automatic extension tube.

It will allow you to control the aperture and focus of your lens. This will save you time in the long run.

Close-up filters

Macro lenses are the most expensive close-up photography accessories. However, they do provide higher magnification, but the image quality will suffer.

You can use several close-up filters to increase their magnification. Unlike macro lenses, close-up filters are easy to use and do not require any special training. Regardless of which option you choose, consider how important it is to have a high-quality macro lens.

While close-up filters with an extension tube can produce impressively high magnification, they do not produce magazine quality photographs.

In general, macro lenses are better, because they do not involve complex technology and moving parts. But before you buy, there are a few things to consider.

While macro lenses and close-up filters have different uses, they are a good choice for beginners. They allow you to get extremely close to your subject without compromising image quality.

Usually, close-up lenses come in +1, +2, +3, or +4 diopter strengths, though some are as high as +10 diopters. However, a higher magnification can make the subject appear larger in prints and other mediums.

The most common close-up lenses for digital cameras are sold at camera stores and trade shows and are quite cheap. For beginners, a low-cost close-up lens is a good choice.

When choosing a macro lens, make sure to consider what your shooting needs are. Typically, a macro lens is larger than a 200mm lens with a +3 Close-up filter. And since it can focus up to 85mm, it’s a better choice than a macro lens with an extension tube. But, it’s also worth noting that a macro lens can’t take as close an image as a macro lens can.

Canon extension tubes

The decision to purchase a macro lens or an extension tube depends on your photography needs and budget. Generally, macro lenses are more expensive than extension tubes, but they can produce similar results at f/8. While some photographers may only need an extension tube, others may find it useful.

For those who are unsure, here are some things to keep in mind before purchasing a macro lens.

The first thing to know about macro lenses is how much magnification they offer. Macro lenses are specialized lenses that can magnify subjects 1:1. Extension tubes allow a camera to function as a macro lens.

These inexpensive devices can also be used as a substitute for specialized macro lenses. A macro lens can be used to take close-up photos of insects, flowers, and other small items. A macro lens allows for high magnification and practical depth of field.

Another drawback of extension tubes is that they can limit your ability to focus at infinity. Since they are designed for close-up work, they are ineffective when photographing moving objects.

However, they may help you achieve sharper images, especially when you use a fast shutter speed. However, vignetting is less of an issue if you use a smaller extension tube. The advantage of an extension tube is that it is much easier to hold the lens.

When comparing Canon extension tubes vs macro lens, consider what they have in common. Extension tubes are essentially extensions that fit between the camera and lens.

They increase the length of the front element. In turn, they increase the magnification of the lens. However, this extension will decrease the Minimum Focusing Distance (MFD) and make it easier to focus closer to the subject.

Another difference between an extension tube and a macro lens is the price.

Opteka extension tubes

While the two are not mutually exclusive, they have some key differences that should be noted when considering them.

One major difference is magnification, which is significantly lower when using extension tubes.

The closest focusing distance for a close-up lens is 28cm, while for a macro lens, the nearest focusing distance is at least 66cm. However, if you use an extension tube with a macro lens, the magnification will be higher than the close-up lens alone.

A common issue with extension tubes is their limited range. Despite the limited selection of dedicated macro lenses for Nikon Z cameras, these inexpensive tools can be an indispensable part of your kit bag.

They will not affect exposure metering and autofocus if your lens is AF.

The 11mm and 18mm extension tubes offer useful magnification and metal mount rings, giving them durability and strength. This is the only downside to extension tubes.

Aside from this, the biggest disadvantage of extension tubes is the cost. Aside from being expensive, extension tubes may not be worth the extra expense.

Despite their price, they still offer great magnification and working distances. However, they may be unsuitable for macro photography, especially if you want to use a DSLR.

Moreover, they may not be compatible with your lens, which may lead to the lens getting stuck. If you decide to use an extension tube, make sure to test it first on a few lenses.

Extension tube vs Micro lens: Conclusion

An extension tube has other benefits as well. It can be useful for hand-holding a lens, particularly when capturing moving subjects.

However, it can be difficult to adjust exposure settings. To solve this problem, you can use shorter extension tubes.

These can help you gain back some of the light and maintain faster shutter speeds.

They are also easy to carry and use. It’s important to remember that extension tubes can make the difference between a macro lens and a normal lens.