Macro Photography – Using Extension Tubes or a Close-up Lens

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In yesterday’s article, I posted several of my recent dahlia photos.  This year, I have my new Canon 85mm f/1.2 L lens and I wanted to experiment with bokeh.  But, this lens has a minimum focusing distance of over 3 feet, not the best for this type of subject.  There are alternatives for macro photography.


I have discussed Extension Tubes before.  I was planning to use either the EF12 II or EF25 II with the 85mm f/1.2 L.  In packing my bag, I went through my collection and found Canon’s Close-Up Lens 500 D which screws on the front of a lens like a big filter.  I completely forgot that I had this!  Many reviewers have raved about this multi-element filter was on par with L-quality glass.  In fact, it is so heavy that it outweighs both extension tubes together with a pouch!  That’s why I put is aside and have not used it since.  But, my Tenba Shootout has plenty of room, so it’s worth bringing along for a comparison.


Each of the above photos were taken of the same flower.  Without any attachment, I had to be about 3.5 feet away in order to get a focus lock on the center of the dahlia.  Each of the other photos represent the closest I could get with the stated attachment while achieving a focus lock.  In terms of image quality, all photos are virtually the same with equal sharpness and color accuracy.

I was very surprised by the Close-up Lens.  It reduced the minimum focusing distance to under 1-foot while allowing me to capture more of the flower than the EF12 Extension Tube.  With the Close-up Lens attached, I was still able to open the 85mm up to a f/1.8 for some great bokeh effects.


After putting the Extension Tubes back in my bag, I spent the rest of my time using the Close-up Filter.  I was very pleased with the results.

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