Indoor Macros and Extension Tubes

If you are stuck indoors and desperate to shoot something, why not take some macro shots of everyday items that you might have sitting around the house? I did this in the last few days, while indoors and off work, partially to support a remote seminar I did on macro photography and partly just for fun of shooting something inside! The photo above shows two of my Fujinon lenses, my two extension tubes and a sculpted sandstone candle holder I bought in the Southwest a few years back. Following will be a few examples comparing several different lenses, and how much closer one can focus with extension tubes. Note that clicking on any image below will open it much larger in a new window.

I am shooting with a Fujifilm system, my X-Pro2, and here is the first shot with my XF 23mm f/2 at its closest focusing distance…


Next up, we add both the 11mm and 16mm extension tubes, the MCEX-11 and MCEX-16, and check out how much closer one can now get!


For an idea of the working distance, see the shot below…


As you can see, with both tubes, the 23mm lens will focus extremely closely, but perhaps close enough to be somewhat impractical! I had one of my bright, high CRI flashlights pointed at the white ceiling and that gave a fairly soft and even light, so even up close like that, the setup was useable. If I use my XF 50mm f/2, the magnification is less, but the working distance is also much greater…


Below is the setup with the 50mm and both tubes, which took the above photo…


As you can see, with this setup, it would be much easier to light the subject. Here now is a shot taken with my XF 90mm f/2 and both extension tubes…


Here is a different shot taken with my XF 90mm, also with both extension tubes. The light is simply diffused outdoor light from two windows, maybe 120 degrees apart, and actually made for some very attractive lighting on my classically styled XF 50mm lens…


Next up, we have my friend’s cat Bernie, with my XF 50mm and the 16mm tube…


Now for my friend’s other cat, Gert, with the 50mm and both tubes. For the cat photos, I was relying on the camera’s AF to make for a shorter focus to shooting interval, which made it more likely I’d get a sharp photo! You can see me and the camera reflected in the eye here…


Following is a shot of my “Yes Inca” watch, again with the 50mm lens and both tubes. This is a very interesting watch with tons of functionality. An old blog posting of mine here, about 9 years ago, has some more photos and an explanation of this watch’s features…


Here is an interesting gadget of mine, a rechargeable electric “plasma” lighter, a tight shot once again with the 50mm and both tubes, showing its business end when lit…


So, with a little bit of imagination, shooting some stuff you have kicking around the house can make for some interesting photos. My colleague Nicole has posted a series of interesting shots taken with random magnifying glass lenses held in front of her camera – cool! Also, my colleague Jason took some spectacular super macro photos of some owl and peacock feathers too, which he will hopefully post as well.

Remember that if you don’t have a macro lens, extension tubes or even a random magnifying glass, but want to experiment with macro photography, Beau Photo does rent macro lenses for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Hasselblad and the medium format Fujifilm GFX system. In addition, we also sell macro lenses and extension tubes too of course!

I will finish off with a few more shots, all taken with the XF 50mm f/2 and both extension tubes…

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2 replies on “Indoor Macros and Extension Tubes

  • Mike Nelson Pedde

    Extension tubes and bellows units are great for macros (you can also mount an extension tube on a longer focal length lens and get interesting images from much closer than your usual min. focusing distance).

    Other options, depending on your camera include lens reversal rings (think of a filter that screws onto the front of your lens, but has an adapter to mount the lens backward to the camera body) or free lensing. With free lensing you disconnect the lens from the camera and hold the lensin front of the body. You focus by moving the lens back and forth. Depending on your camera you may have to change a menu setting to allow the camera to work w/o a lens attached.

    If you’re playing with macros you’re going to find your DoF sinks to almost nothing. You can try focus stacking by creating a series of images at slightly different focus points and then joining them together. Some cameras will do this automatically (Nikon Z7 for example) or you can set things to manual focus and do it manually. A tripod will be required.

    Both Photoshop and Affinity Photo do focus stacking, or you could try Helicon Focus or Zerene Stacker.

    Mike.

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