Extension tubes have been widely used by photographers for a long time. An extension tube is an attachment that goes between your camera body and your lens. It doesn’t feature any glass, all it is designed to do is move the lens further away from the focal plane. The reason for doing this, is so that your minimum focusing distance gets smaller. An extension tube lets you focus your lens much closer to your subject. Extension tubes are an inexpensive way to obtain the short focusing distances that you get from a dedicated and much more expensive macro lens.
For users of digital cinema cameras that have a PL mount, there have been very few options available if you wanted to use extension tubes. To change this, Duclos Lenses have built a Macro Extension Tube for PL mount lenses. This allows users of PL lenses to decrease the minimum focus distance to within a few inches of the front element while maintaining the same optimal image quality of whatever lens you happen to be using. There are many different lengths of extension tubes that can work, but Duclos Lenses went with a 20mm version, which they found to be the best solution for use as a general purpose extension tube.
According to Duclos Lenses, “The Macro Extension Tube is designed, manufactured, and assembled in the Chatsworth, California. It features stainless steel components, precision tolerances, and optically flat internal surface finish are meticulously married to reduce stray light and ensure the highest quality is maintained. Works with S35 and 35FF format lenses and cameras.”
Extension tubes can be a great alternative to having a dedicated macro lens, but there are some key points that you need to remember. The effectiveness of extension tubes decreases as focal length increases. You also need to be careful when working with extreme wide-angle lenses. If the focal length is too wide, you won’t be able to focus at all, because the minimum focusing distance will be pulled back into the inside of the lens. You also You lose infinity focus just like using a diopter, and you will see a small amount of light loss.
From my experience testing out the Macro Extension Tube for PL, I found that the most effective focal lengths it worked on were anywhere from around 28-80mm. I tested it out on a variety of PL lenses, including Zeiss CP2’s and Angenieux Optimo Style zooms. It worked particularly well on zooms rather than prime lenses. The reason being, is that you can adjust the focal plane by adjusting the focal length of the lens. With a prime lens you have very little adjustment and the only way of adjusting the focal plane is to move the whole camera and lens closer or further away from your subject.
On a recent shoot in the Himilayas I used the Macro Extension Tube with my Angenieux 30-76mm zoom. As I had to travel light, I didn’t have room for a dedicated PL macro lens. The Duclos Lenses Macro Extension Tube allowed me to get close up shots that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get unless I had of used a Macro lens. I can’t release any of that vision yet, but I can show you some small internal JPEG frame grabs from the camera below.
The Angenuiex 30-76mm zoom has a minimum focussing distance of 2′(60cm). If you use it with the Macro Extension Tube you can get the focus down to a matter of inches. You can see the frame grabs below to see the difference in focussing distance when the lens is used with and without the Macro Extension Tube.
The Macro Extension Tube is beautifully made and rock solid. It is very easy to use and there is no lens wobble even when using heavier PL zoom lenses. While it doesn’t replace a dedicated macro lens, it is a very affordable and compact option for getting unique shots with existing PL lenses that you may already own or rent.
The Duclos Lenses Macro Extension Tube for PL retails for $295 US and is available for purchase on the Duclos website.