It was time for another Pixel Party at the HMNS this past Sunday and we got to have access to the Bulgari jewelry exhibit. I’ve been to many of these events at the museum before and had usually avoided photographing smaller pieces because I don’t have a macro lens and even with a macro lens, the pieces are behind thick glass and macro lenses are normally prime lenses so it makes it hard to get a nice picture. This time, I was armed with the Nikon 80-400 AF-S telephoto lens and my trusty Kenko extension tube set. Extension tubes are awkward to use, to say the least, especially on a giant lens like the 80-400. It’s wobbly, you lose the ability to auto focus (at least in this light), and you have limited windows of focus.
Essentially, the lower the focal length, the closer you have to get to the subject to automatically focus and the bigger the magnification. An extension tube increases lens magnification by an amount equal to the extension distance divided by the lens focal length. Confusing? Yes! Just remember this, If I had a 50mm lens, in order to get .5x magnification, I’d need to put 25mm of extension tubes on. If I wanted 1:1, I’d have to put 50mm’s of extension tubes and pretty much be right next to the subject or it wouldn’t focus. I kind of like using my 85mm lens with 68mm’s of extention tubes which gives me a .8x magnification and a reasonable distance from the subject where I focus with moving forward or backwards, but this wouldn’t work in a museum with glass. Back to using a long-ass zoom lens and extension tubes.
The benefit of having a zoom lens with extension tubes is that I can stand back further and still be able to zoom in relatively close. If something is out of the range of focus, I can move the zoom in or out and then fine tune it with the focus ring. Again, it’s awkward, but on a tripod works very nice. I’m sure there is more math involved and I’m missing something so forget the numbers and just know that you can get in very close when you’re a few feet away.
Anyway, I’m not terribly proud of this picture but the piece is rather small and there was a nice background that would change on me. In retrospect, I should have taken a wide shot, but I brought a heavy lens, tripod, and extension tubes so I had to use it!
By then, I gave up and just put the old 24-70mm on the camera and took wide shots on bigger pieces.