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Lens Extension Tube Do it Yourself

DIY Macro Photography extension tubes and reverse mount lens

Reverse Lens Extension Tube — Photo by Dan Bergstrom

©Dan Bergstrom

How to craft an extension tube at no cost

Extension tubes come in many brands and models but, basically, they are right what you see here: a simple tool to keep your lens at a certain distance from the camera. Here above you can see a Canon 40D camera with a reversed lens placed on a home made extension tube.

True, there is no need to craft an extension tube: you can buy one online and have it delivered in a few days at your address without even leaving your home. Most tubes are sold in a batch of three and can be stacked, allowing for different magnification ratios. The longer the tube, the further the lens is from the sensor, the greater the magnification factor, the closer the focusing distance, and the less light hitting the sensor (the darker the image).

Any prime lens can be used, better if reversed; not just lenses from your camera brand, but also lenses from any other brand or make: which is quite good in that allows for the most flexible and (possibly) high quality combinations; zoom are not indicated, as many of them give, when reversed, poor quality.

The most exciting ideas for making an extension tube

If you have some spare time you can put together a very good tube for your macro pictures.
Some hints for you:

  • The simplest idea: a plastic or cardboard tube and a roll of black PVC electrical insulation tape are more than enough to rig a reversed prime lens to your camera. Just take care to avoid light filtering from the tube itself. And try to make the whole system strong and stable.
  • Another simple extension tube is probably made by just gluing together a body cap and a rear lens cap, then opening a hole to let light go through.
  • There are many other ways to build an extension tube; lens covers, body caps, plumbing materials, black spray paint, hot and/or super glue, black tape, plastic, paperboard, Pringles, beer cans and food containers of any sort: those are the most common sources of inspiration.

Needless to say, you are likely to loose most of the Exif data when using such a device.

The main issue with most do-it-yourself extension tubes is that you will manage, one way or the other, to get a lot of dust and particles into your camera. Dust is a real problem with digital camera sensors: you are advised. Be careful, work tidy and do not say I didn’t warn you!

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  1. By Ken Waldron, on May 02, 2012, at 06:50 PM
    To avoid the whole dust issue, take an appropriately sized neutral filter, remove if from the ring and glue it at the back of the tube, over the body cap.
    No more dust issue.


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