As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
Why do most people invest in expensive macro and close up lenses? Usually, it is mainly because they want to take better images and make clearer videos. But what if you could indulge in professional macro photography without having to spend a hefty amount of money?
Considering that dedicated macro lenses for Nikon are limited, an extension tube is the perfect substitute. Since there are so many options on the market right now, consumers often become confused as to which are the best extension tubes. Moreover, a lot of people don’t know that they can simply buy a macro extension tube set rather than a macro lens.
This review will answer all your questions regarding these tubes and will present you with the best extension tubes to choose from.
- Review of the Best Extension Tubes
- Comparison of the Best Nikon Extension Tubes
- What Is an Extension Tube?
- What Size of Extension Tube Do I Need?
- What Makes a Great Extension Tube?
- Pros and Cons of Extension Tubes
- How to Use Extension Tubes
- People Also Ask
Review of the Best Extension Tubes
When you are given so many choices, you often get confused, and more often than not, you end up making the wrong choice. We have highlighted the features, pros, and cons of the best extension tubes for your ease. Each product comes with some unique elements such as electrical contacts, that make it worthy of being on this list.
For best results, choose the product that meets your criteria.
Best Overall: Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG
- Enable your lens to closely focus more than normal
- Extremely affordable when compared to other options that share the same lens mount compatibility.
- The three tube lengths ensures ease of balancing magnification with the depth of field
- The auto exposure metering is disabled when using the three tubes forcing you to set the aperture and shutter speed manually
- Focus range is greatly limited and allows for a very close focusing distance
What Recent Buyers Report
With so many good options on the market, it is often very difficult to please recent buyers, but Kenko Auto extension tubes have done it very easily and in far less time. The buyers feel that the Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG allows for great macro photography by reducing the distance between the camera body and lens. They also feel that its cost-effectiveness also plays a part in its greater appeal.
Why It Stands Out to Us
Among many reasons, the one reason that makes the Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG stand out to us is their higher compatibility with most Nikon lens mount. The kit includes 3 extensions, each of varying tube lengths. The different tube lengths feature a metal lens mount on each and can be used individually or in combination hence allowing you to achieve the magnification of your choice.
Who Will Use This Most
The best thing about the Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG is that it can be used by almost anyone who has a knack for photography. Both professional and amateur photographers can follow a few simple steps to get the perfect images with the Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG.
The 12mm, 20mm and 36mm tube lengths provide you with a great choice of magnification, and all have metal mount rings for extra durability. This makes usage of the Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG easy and convenient for anyone who is looking to enhance his macro photography skills.
- Designed to enable a lens to focus closer than its normal set
- Very Useful for Macro Photography
- The Extension Tubes have no optics
Best for the Money: MEIKE MK-N-AF1-A Macro
- Higher compatibility with most Nikon lens mount
- Allows auto-focus that produces high-quality images
- Strong build enhances convenience and ease of use
- Coupling with the camera’s automatic diaphragm is perfect
- The varying tube lengths enhance versatility when shooting
- A tripod or a cable needs to be used in the case of a camera shake
- Using the longer extension may force you to reduce the shutter speed in order to maintain a practical depth of field
What Recent Buyers Report
Recent buyers are all pleased with the fact that the MEIKE N-AF1-A macro extension tube set strikes a nice balance between cost and versatility with a wide range of lens mount. Like the Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG, the electrical contacts inside the lens mount maintains the auto capturing capabilities and its 3 varying tube lengths can be stack together for greater magnification
Why it Stands Out to Us
There are various reasons why the Meiki macro extension tube set stands out, but the feature that makes it truly extraordinary is its auto-focus feature. Unlike the Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG, this macro extension tube set has the ability to move the camera mounts away from the digital sensor or film. This, in turn, increases the focus of the lens and thus allows for greater magnification of your images.
Who Will Use This Most
The best extension tubes are made for most professional photographers who understand the technicalities behind the usage. However, that does not mean that amateurs cannot use them. It has a smooth plastic build that adds to your convenience. Hence we recommend that if you don’t understand the usage, simply see the manual for better understanding.
With a plethora of choices available on the market right now, it becomes very hard to pick the right one for your lens mount. The Meiko tubes are built for higher auto-focus of images and also allow for manual focus. Not just that, but the tubes are perfect for professional photographers who want to capture images in their true essence.
- Compatible with :Nikon D80 D90 D300 D300S D600 D800 D3100D3200 D3200 D5000 D51000 D5200 D7000 D7100...
- It moves the lens farther from the film or digital sensor. The farther away the lens is, the closer...
- Configuration:Engineering plastics material + metal bayonet,seven kinds of combinations, seven kinds...
Best Cheap: Fotodiox Macro Extension Tube Set Kit
- Allows for life-size image with an easy setup
- The 3 tube lengths allow for various magnifications
- The image is able to preserve the original properties of the image
- Converts any lens into a macro lens with the same optimal quality
- The metal bayonet mount ensures durability
- Not very suitable for zooming
- Does not come with electrical contacts for motorized lenses
What Recent Buyers Report
Recent buyers are extremely content with this amazing extension tube. They like that it’s much more affordable than the other options on the market. Furthermore, they are also impressed with its light yet strong metal bayonet mount that enhances its durability. Also, the kit comes with all the tubes, the lens coupling ring, and the body coupling ring, hence consumers don’t have to spend extra money on these things.
Why it Stands Out to Us
These Fotodiox Macro Extension Tube set stand out to us because they offer a wonderful substitution to the other expensive lenses on the market right now. Apart from being affordable, they also ensure the perfect quality of images. The metal mounts in this tube makes it ideal for use in trying conditions as it can withstand accidental falls.
Who Will Use This Most
There is no restriction on the kind of people who can use these tubes. Their build-up is simple, allowing everyone these best extension tubes.
There is a reason why this macro extension tube set is part of this list. It is not only affordable but is extremely versatile to work with a wide range of lens mount. Like the Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG, this tube comes in 3 varying tube lengths and 7 combinations of magnifications thus allowing you to retain the perfect optical properties of the image in your camera.
- Quick and inexpensive way to achieve macro focus; Any combination of tubes can be used for various...
- No optical insert - maintains lens optical quality while remaining lightweight
- Extension tubes are designed to enable a lens to focus closer than normal
Most Sturdy Nikon Extension Tube: Mcoplus Extnp Auto Focus Macro Set
- The dust resistant rear caps makes it ideal for use in deserts and dusty conditions
- The electrical contacts helps maintain autofocus and auto exposure metering, allowing you get the right exposure and focus even in difficult lighting
- Like the Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG, the autofocus is quite challenging when using all the three extension tubes combined and might force you to adjust the focus manually using the focus ring
- Sometimes the light leak through the sides, causing a haze on the images, especially when using all the three extension tubes combined
What Recent Buyers Report
If you are using Nikon lenses with short focal lengths and you are looking for an extension tube that can help increase the length and improve magnification for close-up portraits and macro photography, you can’t go wrong with the Mcoplus Extnp Auto Focus Macro Extension Tube Set.
Like the Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set DG, this macro extension tube set comes equipped with three varying tube lengths: 36mm, 20mm and 12mm that you can either use combined or individually depending on your macro shooting needs, enhancing flexibility and versatility.
Each extension tube features a set of electrical contacts, maintaining auto exposure metering, allowing you to shoot with the correct exposure without necessarily switching to manual mode.
Why It Stands Out to Us
Keeping in mind that this extension tube uses Brass Chromed and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) in its construction, it is sturdy enough to withstand accidental falls, which enhances durability.
These construction materials also make it corrosion resistant and have a shiny appearance, making it aesthetically pleasing. Without any lens elements, this extension tube enhances magnification and reduces the lens’s minimum focus distance without interfering with the image quality, improving the production of high-quality images.
Who Will Use This Most
The rear and front caps are dust resistant, making them an ideal choice for professional photographers who love capturing small objects in deserts. With physical dimensions of 3.2 x 3.2 x 2.8 inches and a weight of 5.6 ounces, it is compact and lightweight for carrying and shooting while attached to your camera, making it an ideal accessory for a walk around camera and lens.
Considering that the tubes are attached between the lens and the camera, this macro extension tube set allows you to change your normal prime or zoom lens into a macro lens for shooting tiny subjects and yet allows you to control your camera configurations normally.
- Compatibility: Work with Nikon AF AF-S DX FX SLR Cameras, including D5300, D5000, D3000, D3200,...
- Function: Transform common lens into macro lens to capture the high quality images of small objects,...
- Auto Focus：when installed the tubes, it needs appropriate ocusing distance(1-3cm) space to...
Comparison of the Best Nikon Extension Tubes
What Is an Extension Tube?
An extension tube basically provides a greater extension for your in-built lenses. They are actually hollow and lightweight tubes that fit between the camera mount and the lens. They work by moving your lens farther away from your camera. It also moves the front element of your camera closer to the subject or the image that you have to capture.
Neewer 12mm,20mm,36mm AF Auto Focus
They hence increase the magnification of your camera, because the closer you can focus with one of the best extension tubes, the greater magnification you will get for your images and videos.
What Size of Extension Tube Do I Need?
These tubes work by increasing the magnification of your mount lens so it’s important to understand the exact tube lengths that your camera requires for the best photography experience. In order to figure out the exact magnification, you need to divide the tube lengths by the focal length of your lens.
For example, if you are shooting with a lens of 85mm, and have further added a macro extension tube set of 25 mm, all you need to do is divide 25 by 85. This will give you 0.29, which is also the magnification that will be achieved with the extension tube. So, before you buy any macro extension tube set, make sure you do this simple math in order to find out the exact magnification that you require.
What Makes a Great Extension Tube?
There are certain features that you need to look for while buying the best Nikon or third party extension tubes. Here is a brief overview of each feature.
Brand or Generic Type
As the name suggests, the brand type is specifically designed for that brand’s camera lens mount, whereas the generic type can be used with any brand. Brand tubes are more efficient as they are designed for specific models; however, they are also expensive when compared with tubes from generic brands.
Extensions come in various sizes and all tube lengths are responsible for ensuring a specific magnification. Magnification greatly affects the pixels and hence the quality of your image.
Fotodiox Macro Extension Tube Set Kit
Regardless of the lens mount, the best extension tubes can come with or without electrical contacts. The ones without the electrical contacts are extremely cheap and they simply work by fitting between the lens and the camera. They don’t allow you to use the auto-function feature.
On the other hand, the ones with electrical contacts are expensive, but their extra cost is justified by their ability to allow for auto-focus. The electrical contacts allow the electrical current to move through both the camera and the lens hence giving better results.
Manual Focus vs. Auto-focus
Most of the advanced features like auto-focus are dependent upon the price of the best extension tubes, so naturally, the more expensive options will allow for auto-focus. However, if you are not too particular about this, just buy a less expensive product with manual focus rather than the electrical contacts for autofocus.
Pros and Cons of Extension Tubes
Like most products in the world, every extension tube comes with its fair share of both pros and cons, that includes.
Let’s first see all the benefits you’ll get to enjoy by investing in these tubes, the ones with electrical contacts and those that don’t have.
Cost is the biggest advantage of getting an extension. This is because they allow you to get into macro photography without having to buy professional lenses. Moreover, you can buy both cheap and slightly expensive tubes with electrical contacts for similar results. The same tube can also be used on a wide array of lens mount.
Optical Quality of the Image
Contrary to what a lot of people think, an extension tube, even the one with electrical contacts, does not change the optical quality of your images. They work by increasing the distance between the camera and lens. This, in turn, increases the magnification without hindering the optical quality of your macro photos.
There are 2 types of tubes, brand, and generic ones. The biggest advantage of the generic extensions is that they can be used with any lens mount. However, brand ones have higher compatibility with lens mount of that brand.
Let’s now see the shortcomings of these tubes.
Using an extension tube allows you to get extremely close to your subject. But the downside of this is that it can make you get in the way of lighting and in certain cases, this disturbs the subject, especially if it’s alive.
Since these tubes allow you to focus on the image too closely, this might lead to a decreased sharpness and hence affect image quality. It is important to note however that this decrease is not due to disturbance in the optical quality; rather, it is affected by how you are using your lenses.
How to Use Extension Tubes
Contrary to what a lot of people think, using any of the best extension tubes on our list is not that hard as they are compatible with most film cameras.
Sort Camera Settings
The first step is to set the camera to aperture priority mode. This will allow you to get an in-depth view of the field, which is a critical step for close-ups. It is also suggested that you do this manually, as using auto-focus with the tubes that come with electrical contacts won’t give you the precision that you need.
Attach Extension Tube
Once you understand how to use either of the best extension tubes on our list , you will also understand which size you need for each image. Finding the perfect extension tube might be confusing at the start, but when you experiment with a couple of these, you will get the hang of the right one for your lens mount and electrical contacts for autofocus purposes.
Check the Magnification
Once you have inserted one of your best extension tubes between the camera and lens and locked the electrical contacts into place, check whether the combination gives the best magnification. Whether you are using DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, you can position the camera roughly before you move back and forth to bring the subject into focus. Once that is achieved, decide whether the magnification is the one that you require.
Try Different Combinations
If you are not satisfied with the current magnifications or autofocus performance if you have an autofocus lens and the tube comes with electrical contacts, it is always recommended that you try a couple of new combinations.
Mix and match several tubes to get the perfect combination. If the magnification is higher than the one you need, try to find the best extension tubes that will give you a smaller length. Do this a couple of times before you get the perfect magnification. However, you might encounter issues with electrical contacts when using different tube combinations.
People Also Ask
Extension tubes with or without electrical contacts haven’t been on the market for very long so it’s natural that people still have a lot of questions regarding their usage and other features. Here are the answers to the most common questions that are asked concerning the electrical contacts and tube’s general performance.
Do Extension Tubes Increase Magnification?
Yes, they do. You only need to mount one of your best extension tubes on the lens mount to increase the distance between the camera and the lens. This increases the magnification of the image and allows for better images. Tubes with electrical contacts also allow you to use the autofocus feature. The kind of magnification you will achieve depends on the length of your extension tube, regardless of the electrical contacts.
Can Extension Tubes Be Used With Zoom Lenses?
Extension tubes with and without electrical contacts can be used with zoom lenses but whether photographers use it with zoom lenses or prime lenses is up to them. However, since these tubes work by increasing magnifications, they can end up increasing the imperfections in your lens’ optical quality extremely apparent.
What Is the Difference Between Extension Tubes and Teleconverters?
Teleconverters and extension tubes differ in more than one way. However, the biggest difference between the two is that the teleconverter works by magnifying the image by increasing the focal length. On the other hand, tubes, even those without electrical contacts, reduce the focus distance of the lens and hence allow you to get close to your subject.
Do Extension Tubes Affect Image Quality?
Extension tubes, even those with electrical contacts generally do not affect image quality. This is because the image quality is largely dependent on the optical properties of the lens, and the tubes do not affect those. However, image quality can be slightly hindered if you are focusing on the image too much and hence not using the lens in the right way or the electrical contacts fail to lock into place.
Can You Use Extension Tubes With Macro Lenses?
Although a lot of people think that extension tubes cannot be used with a macro lens, especially if they don’t have electrical contacts, they can work as long as the lens mount is compatible. They work by bringing the magnification ratio above 1:1. They also work by capturing the images that fill your frame with small and intricate details of an extremely focused and close-up image.
Indulging in macro photography was once an expensive choice, but not anymore. With any of the best extension tubes bombarding the market, macro photography has become extremely convenient. Indulge in the best photography experience by using these extraordinary Nikon extension tubes.