I do jewelry photography, so I need to get close to really small stuff.  I had been  looking at the Kenko extension tubes to augment my Sigma f/2.8 50mm macro lens, but I really didn’t feel like  spending $200 on them.  So I decided to give a try to the Pro Optic Budget Auto Extension Tube Set sold by Adorama and which I bought through Amazon since I had some points to use towards them.

They arrived yesterday and this morning I saw the perfect opportunity to give them a try – a bumble bee that was happily sitting and snacking on one of my plants. I rushed to grab one of the tubes in the hopes he wouldn’t move. (I grabbed it so quickly I didn’t even make note of which section it was, so I can’t provide that info to anyone interested in knowing.) Remarkably, he (or she) didn’t budge and didn’t seem bothered by my being on top of him with a camera. (Literally – I was only a couple of inches away.)

Since this was a rushed photo, all of the bumblebee shots below are hand-held with no tripod and using only the available light (since it was a sunny morning, this was not an issue). Still, I’m actually quite surprised at how crisp the shots turned out. They might not be tack sharp, but pretty darned good under the circumstances. Though normally I’d want to use a tripod for such a macro shot, I already felt like I was pushing my luck with this little guy.

This is the uncropped image.


Here’s a crop of the bee alone (click to see the full size image)


And here are a couple of full size 100% crops. I’m just amazed that you can see the tiny hairs on the bee’s head and mouth!! Not too bad for hand-holding the camera!

Here’s a second 100% full size crop. Amazing, isn’t it?


This second section of photos are of a Tanzanite gemstone that is 3.03 carats, measuring 9.14mm in diameter (about 3/8”).  In this case, the extension tubes may work TOO well, as you can see every little inclusion there is in the gemstone.  I’m including a shot with a quarter to give you a better idea of the size of the gem.

The first one is linked to the full size image, which you can see if you click on the photo:



And here’s a more artistic (less clinical) photo of the same stone, linked to a larger image:

BTW, a few reviewers on Amazon stated that they lost the electrical connection between their lens and camera when they stacked all three tubes together. I did not have this problem – all three work together seamlessly with my camera and lens. But with all 3 tubes. I had to almost be touching the object I was photographing, which didn’t surprise me.

I also took a quick photo of the number pad on my Samsung Restore cell phone.  This is also hand-held using only available light, so it’s not tack sharp, but that wasn’t the point – I just wanted to see how close I could get with these extension tubes.  This is an un-cropped photo (reduced in size, naturally) and the actual dimensions of the area on the phone is only about 1” across.

phone closeup

All in all, I’m pretty impressed with my results so far. Now I’ll have to start to play around with focus stacking to make some really excellent macro photos.  There’s always new things to learn with this craft, is there not? But it’s a labor of love, so it only enriches my life and adds a little more excitement to every shoot!