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Finding Details in Close-Up Portraits

by Philippe Dame on February 6th, 2011

Back in September, I opted for a set of Kenko extension tubes as a cheaper alternative to a macro lens (see my earlier post on shooting macro with extension tubes).

The tubes have no glass as they simply distance your lens from the sensor and reduce the minimum focusing distance. Picture yourself being only a few inches away from the subject and still getting a focus lock.

I might eventually get a macro lens (I drool for the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 IS Macro) but they do the job for now.

My biggest complaint with these is that the autofocus hunts quite a bit when they’re paired with my Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens. I’m not sure if that’s normal or just the lens’ mediocre autofocus made worse.

So, to avoid missing the moment, I shoot in manual focus mode. I get in really close and move my head back and forth like a pigeon until I see sharpness in the area I want. I probably look ridiculous doing this. When shooting a moving object, like my baby daughter, it still takes a lot of shots to get a usable photo.

Below are some shots I achieved today with the 12mm and 20mm tubes (used separately). The really close ones are shot with the 20mm tube. The deeper the tube, or combination of tubes, the closer you can get.

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