You may have heard of a teleconverter, but what’s an extension tube sometimes called extension rings? Both devices serve to increase the focal length of your lens.
A teleconverter increases the size of the image sensor to create more room for light to pass through. The light then hits the film plane or digital imaging chip.
An extension tube is like putting on reading glasses and magnifying everything you look at. The difference is you’re not changing anything about your eyesight–it just makes things bigger! In my blog post, I’ll compare these two devices so that you can choose which one is best for your needs.
What Teleconverter and Extension Tubes Have in Common
Both of these devices have in common: they allow the photographer to get closer to the subject. However, they do this in different ways. A teleconverter allows you to get closer to a subject further away. An extension tube allows you to get closer to a subject already close to you.
What’s the Difference Between Teleconverters vs. Extension Tubes?
An extension tube is an attachment that connects between your camera body and lens. The only thing it does is adjust your lens, so it’s further away from the camera body. The adjustment decreases the minimum focusing distance of the lens.
Extension tubes can be used with any camera lens because they don’t change how light focuses on the film or sensor. They work like that because there is no glass inside.
When you move the lens away from the sensor, you can increase the magnification of the lens. You then decrease the focusing distance turning your standard lens into a macro lens.
A teleconverter is an attachment that also connects between the camera body and lens. People might think they are very similar, but they do two different things.
Teleconverters are used to increase the focal length of a lens. A teleconverter increases the size of your image sensor, whereas extension tubes do not. A teleconverter achieves this by using glass; some of the most common teleconverters are 1.4x and 2x.
What this means is whatever the focal length of the lens is, you then multiply it by the teleconverter number, giving you the new focal length.
The advantages of these two devices are you don’t have to spend a bunch of money on new lenses to get what you want.
However, a teleconverter is more expensive than an extension tube. It has more parts and needs to house a larger lens element to work correctly. Teleconverters cost anywhere from $250 to $500 for this reason. Extension tubes are relatively inexpensive ($20 to 30).
When To Use an Extension Tube vs. Teleconverter
Extension tubes add macro capabilities to a lens, making them perfect for macro photography. It’s most helpful in photographing small objects. They are ideal for capturing details like the texture of a flower petal or the pattern on an insect’s wings.
To achieve an even closer macro shot, you can stack extension tubes on top of each other. Extension tubes come in various sizes, with 12mm, 20mm, and 36mm being some of the most common. As the lens gets further away from the sensor, the more magnification, you will achieve.
One thing to consider is the effectiveness of extension tubes decreases as focal length increases.
When To Use a Teleconverter vs. Extension Tube
Use teleconverters to take photos from a distance when you need more zoom power than your lens offers. A 2x teleconverter will double the focal length of your lens, turning your 200mm into 400mm!
This makes them perfect for photographing wildlife. Subjects tend to be super far away, and you don’t want to spook your subject.
Another excellent use for teleconverters is to capture sporting events. They allow you to get close to the action without getting in harm’s way.
The teleconverter and extension tube are two different lens accessories that increase the camera’s focal length. They work in very different ways, so photographers need to understand when to use each one.
Performance & Image Quality
There is no glass between the lens and the camera when using an extension tube. As a result, there is no deterioration of image quality. There may be an impact of image sharpness by having a shallow depth of field as the focusing distance varies and the subject comes closer. To achieve a greater depth of field, use a higher f/stop.
When you push the lens away from the sensor, some light is lost; this may cause a delay in the shutter speed. To prevent image quality issues, boost the ISO to create a faster shutter speed.
When using a teleconverter, there is a reduction in lens speed resulting in a stop or stops based on the magnification. With a 1.4 teleconverter, you lose about one stop. With a 2.0 teleconverter, it would be closer to 2 stops.
When using these devices, focusing speed may impact, particularly in lower light, as light has to travel further to reach the sensor.
Teleconverters are Cost-Effective
Teleconverters offer an affordable way to get more zoom power from your lenses without buying a new lens. They are less expensive than a new lens, and you can find them for around $250.
Extension tubes are very cheap. They are very affordable, with most tubes costing between $20 and 30.
Both of these devices can be great additions to any photographer’s toolkit. Still, it’s essential to understand when and how to use them.
Teleconverters add weight to the camera and lens combination. This is since you have to use optics for it to work. This may impact how comfortable the setup is to use for long periods. It may be necessary to purchase a tripod that can handle the extra weight in some cases.
Extension tubes do not add additional weight to the camera and lens combination. There are no optics, and they are usually plastic or aluminum.
You can use extension tubes with any of your lenses. You can join together multiple extension tubes to achieve more magnification.
However, teleconverters are not universal with all lenses. It is essential to check your camera and lens manufacturers for compatibility before purchasing. If you’re buying a lens today and considering a teleconverter in the future, confirm compatibility before purchasing.
Conclusion: Teleconverter or Extension Tubes?
Both teleconverters and extension tubes have their place in a photographer’s toolkit. Teleconverters are great for adding extra zoom power to your lenses. At the same time, extension tubes are perfect for increasing the magnification without any image degradation. It is essential to understand when and how to use each for the best results.