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Macro photography extension tubes.

Yesterday, I tried something new, something I had never done in photography. True macro photography. And though my shoulder, back, neck, hand and right arm are complaining today I am thrilled with what I have learned and achieve.

So what have I learned? Well how about a short list of things you have to consider when making macro photographs:

  1. The gear.
    • Kenko extension tubes

      I do not have millions to spend on another lens, particularly when it would be a specialised one that would not be used often. So opted to go the extension tube route, a set of Kenko to be exact, why these? because they have the necessary connections to the lens, so you can still control your Depth of Field and, though completely futile, the auto-focus still works. But when you are 1 cm away from your subject auto-focus just hunts, even with a Canon EOS 7D.

    • Use a 70- 200mm with a f/2.8, it will make your life easier, I started with a 24-70 that I could only use between 50 and 70mm.
    • Use a tripod!
    • And have something (or someone) to give shade when required, which I found was most of the time.
  2. The technique:
    • Pick one or more extension tube, I would recommend the shortest to start with, put your choice of lens on and find a really small flower or use a book and focus on the text, it makes for interesting photographs too.
    • Set the whole gear up on your tripod.
    • Set your focus ring to the closest possible point in manual, no kidding.
    • Use your zoom ring to focus, it took me a while to get that, forget about the focusing ring. If you cannot get focus you are either too close or to far, you will also find that you need to change distance if you add or remove tubes. As my instructor said a zoom between 80 and 130mm works best, find your lens sweet spot if you are not using a pro grade lens (I find Canon’s EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens perfectly suited).
  3. The catches:
    • DOF, I tried to change it from f/2.8 right down to f/22 I could not see a difference.
    • Because of the above, if you are using all 3 extension tubes, I did not check with different combinations, you end up with a depth of field focus area of about 5mm, believe it or not a bee’s back side and it’s wings can be in perfect focus but not it’s head, so be careful with that.

And that is it, go and try, it’s loads of fun and your garden is the first please to visit, I know it’s a long trip. By the way, none of the photos below have been tempered with outside of being resized, what you see is exactly what the camera gave me, no colour calibration either than white balance set to day light, the camera used was a Canon EOS 7D.

Click on photos to enlarge

Click on photos to enlarge

Pascal Parent

Pascal's day job is as a technologist but you can mostly find him behind a camera after hours. As a passionate photographer he regularly shares his experiences with the world. From how-to to reviews you will find it all in his regularly updated blog and other places.


m3 real card

I am just learning macro photography and you have given good tips for it.This will be very useful for me.Thank you very much for such helpful post.

Pascal Parent

@m3, I am also just another novice trying out macro photography and all I do is share my experience in what I learn. Keep learning you’ll find any type of photography an incredible world where you can freeze a moment in time or catch a lapse of time (something I will be blogging about too). With photography anything is possible, the limit is your imagination. Go out there and take pictures, it’s the only way to learn. By the way for the tips on this page I need to thank a selfless photographer and lecturer Frank whom without I could never had written this article. Check him out at

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