Aria’s wedding was absolutely incredible and I can’t WAIT to post pictures, but I will save that for when she gets back. 🙂 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? 🙂
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).
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.
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!
How to attach the extensions
I’ve had questions about how to put this on, so here’s a mini tutorial with pictures below.
- Take off your camera lens. Notice the two matching white dots.
- 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.
- Align the red dot (macro) with the white dot (camera lens). Wiggle it around a bit until it settles in.
- 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.
- To remove: press the button to release the lens as usual and screw off camera body.
- 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. 😉
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. 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!
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!)
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).
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. 😉
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:
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. 😛
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*
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. 😉 So don’t be afraid to take a bunch.
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.
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!
Suggested macro subjects
- Raindrops/water drops (obviously my absolute favorite 😉 )
- Tiny details (the text on paper money, ink dots on a page… think of it like a microscope!)
- Eyes (another favorite!)
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? 😉 )
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!
P. S. Photos taken with my Nikon D3400 and a 35mm lens. (Plus the extension tubes for some of them. 😉 ) Edited with picmonkey.com.