Friday, December 12, 2014

Arrived! Fujifilm Extension Tubes



Much to my surprise, we have already received our new Fujifilm extension tube order! We have both the 11mm and 16mm ones in stock currently.

Here is what both tubes look like on my X-E2, stacked with the 60mm macro…



Following are a few examples of what sort of an effect they have on minimum focus distance. Firstly, here is shot taken with Fujifilm's XF 60mm f/2.4R Macro by itself, at its closest focusing distance which gives a 1:2 macro reproduction ratio…



Adding the two extension tubes (the 11mm and 16mm) allows you to focus a lot closer, as you can see here, and my guess is that this shot is now getting close to a 1:1 reproduction ratio…



Even with both tubes attached, the working distance with the 60mm is still quite useable since closest focus results in the subject being 10cm from the front of the lens. Without the two tubes, the closest one can get with the 60mm is roughly 15cm. However, when you pair up the tubes with some wide-angle lenses, sometimes the point of focus is actually inside the lens, behind the front element! Clearly that is not workable.

For example, here is a shot with the 11mm tube and the XF 23mm f/1.4R but not at its closest distance. In fact, I believe the lens was actually set to infinity for this shot! In this case, the front of the lens was maybe only 2 or 3 cm from the "Eval" button on the calculator in the photograph...



One thing to remember is that every lens will behave differently with extension tubes. Fujifilm does have a chart that shows statistics for the individual tubes when paired up with various lenses, but does not show results when both tubes are used together. A few points about using extension tubes…

While autofocus does work with tubes attached, it doesn't work very well if the subject is far out of focus, even if the subject is actually within the current range of focus. This difficulty in focusing varies from lens to lens and is also dependant on which tube you are using, and usually gets worse when you stack more than one. Once you get the focus close though, then my X-E2 does seem to lock quite responsively. Generally speaking, the wider angle the lens, the more effect the extension tube has. For example, the 11mm tube by itself only has minimal effect on the 60mm macro, but on the 23mm wide-angle it has a huge effect on minimum focusing distance and reproduction ratio. Put the 11mm tube on the 10-24mm zoom and at 10mm, even at infinity focus, the point of focus actually falls behind the front element (inside the lens), however at 24mm it is barely useable with a few centimetres of working distance.

When using extension tubes, the range of focus on your lens, from closest focus to "infinity" is extremely compressed too. For example, the 60mm macro with both tubes give a 10cm working distance to your subject at closest focus but when the lens is set to infinity, that distance only increases to 17cm. This does make things difficult for the AF system and often it is easier to put the camera on manual focus and move the entire camera and lens back and forth physically to find the point of sharpest focus, rather than trying to use the focusing ring on the lens. This is why geared macro focusing rails are so useful!

Lastly, at present there doesn't seem to be any embedded metadata when the extension tubes are used with my X-E2. For example, Adobe Lightroom simply reports the XF 60mm f/2.8R as the lens used and there doesn't seem to be any way of telling if one or more tubes are attached. I can't be sure, but there is a chance that future camera body and/or lens firmware updates might rectify this...

If you would like to try the new extension tubes on your own camera body to see how they might perform with a specific lens, I have bought both for myself and will generally have them available to show at the store...

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