Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Using the Nikkor 50mm f/1/4 G lens for close-up photography
Variations on a theme -- using extension tubes for macro photography

Normally I take my close-up shots using a macro lens, such as the 60mm or 105mm Nikon Macro lens, or the Sigma 50mm macro.  When I want a different look, something less sharp with a softer feel to it, I will switch to a normal lens and use it with a close-up device.  The photos below were taken with the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 G lens attached to a Kenko 12mm extension tube.  The images were shot wide open at f/1.4 resulting in an extremely shallow depth-of-field at such a close range. This combination also gives a soft glow around the out-of-focus areas.  This is something that would probably not happen if a dedicated macro lens had been used.

The Kenko extension tubes can come as a set of three, 12mm, 25mm, and 36mm.  The advantage they have over other brands, including Nikon's own set, is that the Kenko tubes retain auto-focus and lens control through the camera.  The tubes can be used separately or stacked for even greater extension.  There are no lens elements in the tubes themselves to degrade the optical quality of the lens.

For the photos below I used only the 12mm tube mounted between the lens and the camera as shown above.  Extension tubes do decrease the amount of light passing to the camera sensor and thereby reduce exposure a bit, but the Kenko set transmits this information to the camera so determining the correct exposure is not a problem.

The f/1.4 aperture and pin-point focus on one row of keys throws the background into a very soft out-of-focus look.

True macro lenses generally retain excellent sharpness over the entire frame with practically no rectilinear distortion.  Here you can see that the more normal lens adds a roundness to the lines of the keyboard keys.

All these shots were done with a black keyboard I had purchased to use as a prop for stock photography.  The camera was a Nikon D600 and the keyboard was back lit by soft window light.  The color tints were enhanced later when bringing the RAW files into Photoshop.

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