Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Olympus Extension Tube
So I purchased the Olympus macro extension tube on a bit of a whim on Ebay last week. It arrived a couple of days ago and I took it out to my backyard to play around with it. I'm not really into macro photography, but the extension tube was selling for a good price and I figured it would be fun to play with something outside of my normal realm of comfort. The extension tube is basically a round hollow tube that goes between your lens and the camera body. It allows for the electronic information between the lens and body to still travel so they can communicate with each other, at least if you use the brand name extension tube your manufacturer makes.
I used the 50-200 f2.8-3.5 lens and the 35mm f3.5 macro. I might have been doing something wrong, but I couldn't really see a difference in the focusing ability of the macro prime. It pretty much focuses ridiculously close with or without the extension tube attached.
The 50-200 normally needs about 120 centimetres to focus at its closest distance, but with the extension tube you can focus at about 45 centimetres. You focus initially by zooming in and out then you can autofocus if you want. The chart from Olympus suggests that you can't autofocus but it worked for me. I set the camera to AF + MF so I could fine tune the focus if I wanted. It worked well and the extenstion tube is definately fun to play with with the big zoom lens. The 35mm macro lens is probably preferable and easier for still subjects, but if you are trying to photograph something like a bug where you didn't want to get too close and scare it away the 50-200 and extension tube would be pretty useful. Also with the zoom lens you can get nice and close to a subject in your shot without casting a shadow from you, your camera or the lens which can sometimes happen with the 35mm macro lens.
Initially I was having trouble getting the camera to focus on what I wanted as the depth of field is really shallow with the extension tube attached. I was using centre focus and recomposing, but that proved difficult. I was also hand holding the camera which seems to be a bit of a mistake with macro as you really need to stay steady. I'm sure the image stabilization helped some though.
Overall, it was a pretty fun little gadget. I think I'll put it to rest for a while but once September comes and goes and photography isn't so busy for me I plan on diving in and learning to use this new tool to explore some creative macro shots, so probably not a lot of the obvious bugs and flowers. If you ever have the chance to play around with an extension tube I recommend it. It is fun to explore a whole new world of photography even just for a laugh. They aren't expensive to buy either so it could prove to be just the ticket for shaking things up for you if you are in a rut.
Before I go, for those of you that use Flickr, am I the only one annoyed by some of the changes they've made to the site? I like some improvements like for example if you comment on someone's photo you only have to hit the back button once now to get back to what you were looking at instead of twice. But the way in which you link to a photo in your gallery by grabbing the link, like I do in this blog is completely broken. Before I could choose the size of the image I wanted to link to, but they've taken that away with only one link option. Also the link they provide doesn't work! For this post I had to upload my photos to Smugmug to link the photos in. Irritating. Especially since I pretty much use Flickr to post up blog images or happy snaps. And they kept the ugly white background to view the images. I'm glad they are trying to streamline things and make them simpler, but if they don't fix the link issue I won't be renewing my account.
Another thing I'm thinking of ditching soon? My local photography club. I've been a member for about two a a half years, but last year I rarely attended. I see a lot of value in photography clubs for amateur photographers if they can find like minded people within the club to share their hobby with. But my particular one is largely focused on landscape, wildlife and bird photography. I emailed them this summer offering to teach some portrait lessons to club members, mostly because I wanted desperately to bring a different genre of interest to the club, but they showed no interest. It is a very large, well attended club, but the average member is of retirement age and shows little interest in the photography I enjoy so I'm going to let it go. It's too bad to, I've made a lot of good connections through the club, but as much as I admire the patience of bird photographers, I just need to go my own way. Lately I've been networking and hanging out with other working photographers a lot more and I find that to be a much better use of my time. Do I still recommend photography clubs including the one in my community to others? Yes, especially new photographers, but like all good things this one has come to an end.
Posted by Neil Gaudet at 3:49 PM