Packing Cameras : Reducing Space & Weight By Shedding Your Macro Lens

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2/06/2009 – Packing Cameras : Reducing Space & Weight By Shedding Your Macro Lens

When packing equipment for travel, portraits, a wedding and other assignments there is often the desire to pack a specialty lens that you’ll use for one or two photographs.  Very often this specialty lens is a Macro Lens to create ‘detail’ shots of the environment around you.

Since working on the road, shooting lifestyle portraits and weddings require photographers to spend long hours on their feet and often carry all the gear they need on the shoulder/waist/back, eliminating certain lenses to reduce weight is often a good idea…and macro lenses can easily be dropped from the packing list while not eliminating the importance of the job they perform.

As I have created my photography kit I have made a conscious decision to remove a general-purpose macro lens from my kit and replace it with the significantly smaller and lighter macro extension tube.

As my most common macro lens was a 50mm, the choice to swap my macro for a macro extension tube was easy.  Making the swap easier was my desire to often use a 85mm as my macro lens and Canon offers no macro lens in the 85mm focal length.

What are the benefits of an extension tube for saving space and weight while packing (we’ll use my Canon EF12II tubes as an example)?

1) The Canon EF12II weighs a mere 2.29oz (65g) while the Canon 50f2.5 Macro weights in at 0.61lbs (276.7g)

2) The Canon EF12II measures only 0.5inches (12.7mm) long where as the Canon 50f2.5 Marco is p 2.5″ (63.5mm) long (even stacked two EF12II extension tubes take up less space than a traditional macro lens).

3) The Canon EF12II has no glass to scratch while the Canon 50f2.5 Macro has glass…not such a big deal since all lenses have glass you need to worry about.

4) The Canon EF12II can be stacked with a second EF12II…yes the Canon 50f2.5 Macro can be used with the 1:1 life size tube, but that is not something you’d normally used shooting travel, portraits or weddings.

As macro extension tubes contain no glass there is little to no difference between an OEM tube from Canon or Nikon and third party manufacturers such as the Kenko tubes.   As Nikon’s line of “PK” extension tubes are “Ai” (Auto Indexing) rather than “AF” (Auto Focus) the Kenko line of tubes offers some substantial advantages, while saving significant space and weight when compared to the Nikon 60f2.8 AF-D.

…so while there are specific needs for the a true macro lens, there are many opportunities to save on space, weight and cost by considering using the 50mm and 85mm lenses you may already have in your bag with a macro extension tube when packing for your next shoot.

Below are photos of my Canon EF12II macro extension tube attached to my Canon 50f1.4 and 5D body;  a photo of the EF12 II side-by-side with a Canon 50f1.4 for size comparison;  a full frame shot of a toy Pan Am L-1011-500 taken with the 5D-50f1.4-EF12 II combo…and a shot of the toy plane next to a roll of film for a size comparison of how small the plane is.

Happy Flying!





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