Difference between teleconverter and extention tubes?

11 years 9 months ago #4025 by Monster
What is the difference between the two? What is a good example of when to use what? Are there restrictions on what lens can be used with each?


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11 years 9 months ago #4035 by VirgilWB
There is really no similarity between the two other than they are tubes.

Teleconverters are optics, that is, they have lenses in them. Their use is to change the effective focal length of the lens. A 2X teleconverter with a 50 mm lens becomes effectively a 100 mm lens. That is to say, you will get the same field of view with the 50mm as you would with a 100 mm lens. The trade-off (there is always a trade-off) is loss of lens speed, on a 2X convertor typically 2 stops. So, a 50mm f/2 lens with a 2X teleconvertor becomes a 100 mm f/5.6.

Extension tubes have no glass. They do not affect the focal length. What they do affect is minimum focus distance and magnification. With an extension tube, you can no longer focus to infinity, but you can focus a lot closer than you can with the bare lens, yielding a large image on the screen. For example, on the Nikon Micro-Nikkor 55 mm lens, the reproduction ratio is about 1:10 on film. With the PK-13 27.5 mm extension ring, you can get to about 1:1.1, or lifesize on the film. The minimum focus distance goes from about 9.5 inches to something like 2 inches.


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11 years 9 months ago #4156 by Yasko
Just two simple rules:

Teleconverters are for telephoto shots.
Extension tubes are for macro shots.

And do they ever work well! The beauty of extension tubes is they have no glass so the quality of your images remains good even when you stack on a bunch. EXTREMELY close macros are possible....

shot these on a 70mm lens with extension tubes added -

Hairy orbweb spider with 13mm extension tube:


The same spider with 21mm tube:


The water drop on this leaf was less than the size of a pinhead. with 31mm tube:


Same drop with all three tubes stacked. Total of 65mm!


Be aware, when shooting with tubes, the same rules apply with telephoto: the more the magnification, the shallower depth of field becomes, and shakeyness becomes more pronounced. It took 20 shots proped up against a building to be still enough for a sharp shot of the closest water drop. Also, if you're using tubes on a modern lens that has no aperature ring, the tubes must have electrical contacts so you can set your f-stop. Otherwise, your lens shoots wide aperature every time and you'll end up with DOF so shallow, it's unusable in most instances.


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