How to Use Macro Extension Tubes on Your DSLR

Hello, dears!

Aria’s wedding was absolutely incredible and I can’t WAIT to post pictures, but I will save that for when she gets back. πŸ™‚ Until then, I thought I’d make a post that’s been requested in the past: a guide on how to use the macro extensions I’ve featured in past posts!

I’ve already done a little review here, so check that out if you haven’t, but today I’m following it up with more practical knowledge, tips, and inspiration to get some beautiful macro photography.

The best thing? This super fun camera upgrade costs less than $10! O.o I’m always amazed because NOTHING camera related costs that little, am I right? XD

Alright, let’s go looking for the small things, shall we? πŸ™‚

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NOTE: This post includes affiliate links. If you purchase something using my link, the price won’t change for you, but I get a small commission for advertising and you get to support this blog for free!

what are macro extension tubes?

“Macro lens extension tube sets” are rings you can attach to your DSLR to take super close-up pictures using whatever lens you already own! It’s basically a cheaper, flexible alternative to an actual macro camera lens. This little guy comes with three different sized rings that you can screw on and off (see my first post here).

  • If you have a Nikon DSLR, buy extensions here.
  • If you have a Canon DSLR, buy extensions here.

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The wider the ring, the closer up your picture will be as it moves your camera lens further from the camera body. BUT, the more rings you use, the harder to control, darker, and smaller depth of field it will be. (More on that later.) I usually just use the 7mm ring.

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I’ll add a bunch more photo inspiration throughout this post, but here’s one example of what you can do with this lens. It’s just SO much fun to play around with!

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How to attach the extensions

I’ve had questions about how to put this on, so here’s a mini tutorial with pictures below.

  1. Take off your camera lens. Notice the two matching white dots.
  2. Sandwich whatever ring(s) of the macro extensions you’re using (I’m using the 7mm) between the the front and back pieces, and look for the red dot on the metal side.
  3. Align the red dot (macro) with the white dot (camera lens). Wiggle it around a bit until it settles in.
  4. Turn the macro tubes counter-clockwise until they click. Then align the red dot on the other side (macro) to the white dot on the camera body, and screw on.
  5. To remove: press the button to release the lens as usual and screw off camera body.
  6. Find the little metal button/screw (you can see it to the left of the red dot on picture 2) and push it down, toward the base of the macro tubes. While holding the button down, screw your camera lens the opposite direction and twist off.

There you have it! A complicated explanation for something that’s rather simple once you try it. πŸ˜‰

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how to use the extensions

Now let’s go over how to use the lens! There are two main differences between using these extensions and just a normal lens. The first thing to notice is that the f-stop or aperture dial in the center will just have dashes instead of numbers.

  • You aren’t able to adjust the aperture with these on.
  • Also, you will need to use manual focus instead of autofocus.Β Don’t know how to do that? No worries, it’s pretty simple. Let’s get started with the tips and I’ll tell you more about it!

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MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

1. Practice manual focusing. If you’re used to pressing down the shutter button and having the camera focus for you, you’re going to want to play around with manual focusing a bit first, since you can only use manual focus with these extensions. Twist the ridged focus ring near the end of your lens back and forth while looking through the viewfinder or at the screen. (If you’re confused about where something is on your DSLR, drop me a comment and I’ll help you figure it out!)

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2. Experiment with focus adjusting. Once you’ve found the focus ring, try combining it with simply moving your camera closer or farther away from the subject. My rule of thumb is to hold steady when the subject is moving and vice versa.

  • Use the focus ring when your subject is moving and you don’t want to get too close (for instance, a bumblebee on a flower).
  • Move your camera back and forth to focus when your subject is still (like a flower or coin).

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3. For maximum clarity, go for flatter subjects. These lenses give you a tiny depth of field, which means they will only focus on a small part or specific “plane” of your subject. If your subject is “deep,” or not flat, like this tall flower bud, most of the image will be blurred. This can look amazing and enhance the macro effect, but it can be frustrating when you’re trying to show every part of a subject in detail. Look up “focus stacking” for more on that. πŸ˜‰

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4. Find subjects in well-lit areas. These extensions won’t let as much light in as a regular lens, especially as you add rings. If you have all three rings on, the picture will be very dark unless you’re in bright lighting. You’ll have to adjust the ISO or shutter speed, or just find better light. Photographing outside works best. Sometimes, though, a darker picture can showcase details and contrast better:

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5. Use a steady hand, self-timer, or tripod. Honestly I hardly ever use a tripod for macro photography, just because it’s hard to position just right. Tripods might work for subjects like snowflakes, but otherwise I suggest using a self-timer to minimize camera shake while pressing the shutter, or just practicing a steady hand. Maybe hold your breath while you take the shot. πŸ˜›

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6. Photograph on non-windy days. Let me tell you, it’s a real pain to try and take a picture of a flower when the flower keeps blowing out of focus! You will have a much more enjoyable experience on calm days or with stable subjects, especially at first. *nods*

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7. Take LOTS of pictures. Don’t be discouraged when you have to take tons of blurry shots to get one good one. That’s just how macro photography is since the depth of field is so small. It just makes the end result that much more satisfying. πŸ˜‰ So don’t be afraid to take a bunch.

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8. Use live view. I’ve found that I can tell if the picture’s in focus much more accurately if I look at the screen rather than through the viewfinder. That way, you can zoom in while you’re taking it (on my camera, it’s a little magnifying glass button with a +) and really see if it’s in focus before pressing the shutter.

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9. Practice & patience! It’s going to take a little while to get used to these macro extensions because you can’t control them in the same way as ordinary lenses. Be patient with yourself, start with stationary subjects, and just have fun with it!

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Suggested macro subjects

  • Raindrops/water drops (obviously my absolute favorite πŸ˜‰ )
  • Flowers
  • Insects
  • TexturesΒ 
  • Food
  • Snowflakes
  • Tiny details (the text on paper money, ink dots on a page… think of it like a microscope!)
  • Eyes (another favorite!)

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And that, my friends, is all I have for you today! You can buy these extension tubes here for Nikon cameras, and here for Canons. (And yes, those are affiliate links! If you buy the extensions from that link, Amazon will give me a small commission, but it doesn’t cost you any extra. I’m excited to see if this helps make blogging not only fun but worth it, you know? πŸ˜‰ )

Have you tried macro photography before? If so, link your post in the comments so I can check out your pictures. ❀ ❀

Thanks so much for reading, dears, and have a lovely day!

***Allison***

P. S. Photos taken with my Nikon D3400 and a 35mm lens. (Plus the extension tubes for some of them. πŸ˜‰ ) Edited with picmonkey.com.

59 thoughts on “How to Use Macro Extension Tubes on Your DSLR

  1. first! aria’s wedding yay!
    second, how absolutely lovely. i’ve always admired your macro photography, so this post was fascinating.
    third, yay for affiliate links! *high fives you*

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was so much fun to watch Aria’s wedding, and I can’t wait to hear all about it (and see pictures!)
    I have a Nikon D5300 and a similar lens extension set, and I absolutely love them! I’ve been able to get some incredible pictures. Have you made a post on snowflake photography? I haven’t tried snowflakes before o-o
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It was MUCH fun to be in it. πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to post about it!
      Ahh, that’s lovely! Aren’t they so fun? Do you have any particular posts? I love seeing macro photography inspiration! I haven’t made any tutorial posts on snowflake photography, but these two have some macro snowflakes in!

      https://afarmgirlslife.com/2018/12/14/walking-in-a-winter-wonderland-snow-photography/

      https://afarmgirlslife.com/2018/01/19/s-n-o-w-y/

      Maybe I shall make a tutorial post this winter if we get any snow. (We didn’t this year. πŸ˜₯ )

      Like

          1. Thanks! I’m glad you liked them πŸ˜€ Haha your posts made me so excited to go take pictures of snowflakes but then I realized it’s very much the middle of summer haha 😝

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  3. Those photos are fantastic. I have a Sony a300 and I have had it for many years. I still can’t figure out how to use it the right way. I sometimes think I should go to a local camera store and maybe trade it in for something easier. I’ve been told it is a good camera but no matter how many tutorials I’ve seen I can’t get it to do anything different than the few beautiful shots I can get.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Aww, that’s too bad. I don’t really have experience with Sony cameras, but I’ll bet a young person around you could figure it out. πŸ™‚ I love my Nikon camera! I also suggest buying a point-and-shoot or hybrid, like the Nikon L840, for a little simpler starting point. I hope you can figure it out!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooh, this looks really cool! $10? That sounds really cool. I think I may just try them out sometime. I’ll try to buy from your link too…maybe I should try affiliate links sometime. Is it hard to set up?

    Anyway, your photos turned out lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I KNOW, I seriously can’t believe how cheap they are! I mean, all they really are is metal tubes that screw together, but they work so well. And hey, I really appreciate that. ❀ Eh, it's a lot of stuff to fill out but it's not too bad. I think it's a better alternative to advertising!
      Thank you so much, Diamond. ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh no! I clicked on the Nikon one, but my camera wasn’t listed there…
    Are these the affiliate links where I can buy anything off Amazon and you’ll get a commission, or do I have to specifically buy one of those two extension tubes?

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    1. Aww, shucks! No, I’m not sure how to set those up… You have to specifically use the links. :/ I really appreciate you trying, though! That’s so kind of you! I’ll put up more links to stuff in the future. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm. Do you know if the Nikon lenses would work on a D3500 though? I didn’t see it in the subject, but I guess that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

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        1. Hmm. Good question. I searched it on the Amazon questions area:
          Q: Will it work on D3500?
          A: It works on my D3100 the D3500 uses the same mount. So I would say yes. It will be manual mode of course.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Quick comment… actually I *think* I do get a commission for anything purchased through the link! So don’t worry about it if you find another lens you’d rather purchase but I didn’t link to. πŸ˜‰

          Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad that Aria’s wedding went well!! ❀ And the photography was beautiful and the tips were awesome. Wonderful job as always!!!

    ~Esther

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The tips and knowledge are so helpful and fascinating! I don’t own a camera and don’t know how to operate it but I always read your posts anyway. After all, when I do buy a camera, I’ll read all your expert advice about it. And your photos were just amazing ( like always) . I can’t wait for another post. Please keep writing blogs about how to operate camera, tips, for beginners etc etc. Fabulous pic of the ladybug and dew drops. The snowflake was awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, that means so much to me that my posts are interesting even if you can’t use them right away! I’m so glad you liked my photos, too. Thank you for the amazing comment, dear!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so kind, Ruby! And aww, don’t be discouraged if you think someone’s art is “better” than yours. For one thing, it’s just different, and for another thing, it took me twenty years to get to where I am now because I’ve been practicing my whole life! So keep it up, dear, and just enjoy it. πŸ™‚ ❀

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    1. YAY! I haven’t personally bought the Canon version that I linked (since I don’t have a Canon, heh), but I think it’s exactly the same thing. Yes, I looove the macro lenses! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Welcome. I am learning photography now, with my mobile. And I clicked pretty pictures but they were nothing compared to what my β€˜eyes’ have seen till now. I see so beautiful birds, insects and sceneries and I wish I could capture them with a camera. So I want to learn photography and it would be a pleasure to get some tips from an expert a.k.a You!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know that feeling so well! Good for you for capturing it with your phone. Those memories are beautiful! I have some photography tips on my blog if you search “photography tips” in the search bar. I hope they help!
      P. S. I saw the paintings in your most recent post – so pretty! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh my, Allison! Those photos look so beautiful! I want to get into macro photography, now. I plan to get a Canon camera soon (I almost have enough money saved up!), so I will definitely look into investing in Macro extension for Canon cameras. πŸ˜‰

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  10. Ohhhh!! I’ve always wondered how you got those incredible up close pictures! This was so cool! And I can’t get over that snowflake pictures. *dies* *comes back to life to look at it again* *dies once more* Lovely post! ❀

    -Laura ❀ πŸ™‚

    Like

Your comments make my day! Please keep them clean and respectful so everyone can enjoy this blog. :) Thank you!

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