In a previous post, I explained how you can use an extension tube to focus closer with your lens. Using one of these hollow tubes can help you fill the frame when doing close-up photography of things like flowers or butterflies.
Well, when you’re also using a teleconverter on your lens, it’s important to attach the extension tube in between the teleconverter and the lens (so, the teleconverter should be closest to the camera body). This is a little trick that I just learned from an article by Arthur Morris in the latest issue of Nature Photographer Magazine.
I was interested to find out just how much the order matters, so I did a few tests with my Canon 300mm f/4L (a lens that I love to use for close-up photos) and a 25mm extension tube. Here’s a table that summarizes my results:
|Configuration||Minimum Focus Distance|
|No extension tube, no teleconverter||58 inches|
|Extension tube only||46 inches|
|Teleconverter attached to lens first, extension second||52 inches|
|Extension attached to lens first, teleconverter second||46 inches|
So, attaching the teleconverter and extension tube in the wrong order can cost you six inches! That may not seem like a lot, but it can certainly be the difference that allows you to fill the frame with your subject.
Filling the frame is important for a couple of reasons: it helps you get a sharper shot, and it’ll help you get a more out of focus background because it forces you to get close to your subject (remember the three things that affect depth of field).
In summary, here’s some photos that show the right and wrong way of attaching your teleconverter and extension tubes:
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About the Author: Steve Berardi is a naturalist, photographer, computer scientist, and founder of PhotoNaturalist. You can usually find him hiking in the beautiful mountains and deserts of Southern California.