As photography has grown from a hobby to a business venture, I’ve been able to spend time developing different hobbies, including jewelry making. My creations have then lead to various photo shoots, which prompted a photographer friend to make the following suggestion for improvement: extension tubes.
Knowing little about them, I quickly turned to B&H to do some research. When attached to your DSLR, it will give the lens of your choice macro capabilities, letting you position your camera closer to your subject than normally possible. Getting in tighter would magnify my teeny-tiny seed beads, filling more of the frame and capturing more detail. Or, as is the case with the bracelet above, you can choose to use a smaller depth of field that can be visually pleasing with still life shots. Not having the funds for a true macro lens (have you seen my post on low-budget studio options?!), I was sold about four seconds into reading the overview.
While I was saving on a lens purchase, I did choose one of the pricier options on the market, the Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG, retailing for $179. I prefer to have autofocus abilities, which seems to reflect their higher price tag. They are as easy to attach, and the longer the extension the closer you can be to your subject. I have had some difficulty focusing in lower-light situations and especially with the 36mm (longest) tube. It provides a very small window of focusing distance and I found switching to manual focus to be much easier when using it.
In addition to jewelry shots, I’ve found it captures delicate petals just as well and have enjoyed playing with floral composition. It would be difficult for anyone to guess that this macro shot of a spider mum blossom wasn’t shot with a thousand dollar lens. And the $700 I saved will buy a lot of seed beads.