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Beginner's Guide to Close-up & Macro Photography


Keywords: micro, macro, close, photography, photographic, disciplines, guides, tips

Page 6/14 show all pages


Extension tubes are another set of attachments that are often used in achieving larger than the normal lens magnification for macro photography. The extension tubes are mounted between the lens and the camera body.

Nikon PK-13 and PK-11A extension tubes

These extend the distance between the lens and the film plane on the camera, increasing the magnification of the subject on that film plane. It is a similar concept to moving a slide projector further away from the white screen to increase the size of the projection. However, in the case of the camera and lens extension the film size is of a fixed dimension, so the further away the lens is from the film plane, it is effectively cropping more off the borders of the original image projection through the lens. These extension tubes should not be confused with tele-converters. The extension tubes are simply hollow tubes at specific lengths to allow precise steps in lens to camera extension, while the tele-converters have a magnifying lens element in them that increases the focal length of the lenses by the specified multiplier (1.4x, 2x, 3x, etc…). 



The current Nikon series of extension tubes consist of a set of three: an 8mm PK-11a, a 12.5mm PK-12 and a 27.5mm PK-13* extension tube, plus the PN-11* extension tube. As with the lens reversal adaptor, the PK-11 extension tube is meant for manual bodies while the PK-11a extension tube must be used for all AF bodies with electrical/electronic contacts in the lens mounts.

*Note: The PK-13 is the standard extension tube for the manual focus 55mm AI-S Micro-Nikkor and the PN-11 is the standard extension tube for the manual focus 105mm AI-S Micro-Nikkor to achieve their full 1:1 life-size capability. On their own, the 55mm and 105mm Micro-Nikkors will only reach a maximum of 1:2, half life-size magnification.


F3HP with a MF 55mm f/2.8 AI-S Micro-Nikkor (max. 1:2 magnification)

F3HP with a MF 55mm f/2.8 AIS Micro-Nikkor and PK-13 extension tube (max. 1:1 magnification)



MF 55mm f/2.8 AI-S Micro-Nikkor set
at 1:10 (second scale line from top)
MF 55mm f/2.8 AI-S Micro-Nikkor with PK-13 set at 1:2 (top scale line)


MF 55mm f/2.8 AI-S Micro-Nikkor set
at 1:4 magnification
MF 55mm f/2.8 AI-S Micro-Nikkor with PK-13 set at 1:1.5 magnification


(8 Votes )
Page 6/14 show all pages

Originally written on August 27, 2010

Last updated on April 28, 2016

User User


Alvaro Correa (Alvacorr) on May 9, 2016

Excellent article

Dr. Patrick Buick (profpb) on April 15, 2015

This seems a bit out-of-date. Stacking, etc...

User on February 13, 2015

Awesome article! Any chance it can be updated to D610/D810 systems please?

Narikunni Jayanth (jaydoc40) on June 10, 2013

Is the bellows available in the market ?