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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> extension tubes & flash question
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03/20/2008 10:10:22 PM · #1
I have a set of extension tubes, not the Kenko which have the AF feature. I have to set my camera in Manual Focus mode, and set my dial to M, set the aperture on the lens ring, etc.. I can not get enough light on the subject. I have an sb600 and i also have an old flash and adapter for a 35mm camera (like this), I can get it to work if it had something to trigger it.. I'm just lost. I don't understand much about flash, especially when its off the camera. I need light, the photos are very very dark. I can't get the flash to work... is there a setting on the flash or something I might be overlooking? Any help is appreciated!

Message edited by author 2008-03-20 22:11:46.
03/21/2008 01:41:12 AM · #2
Can you post an example of a shot taken using the equipment.
Maybe some ideas will come from seeing the result you got.
03/21/2008 01:46:06 AM · #3
Can you show us a picture of the camera/flash setup you are using?
03/21/2008 01:58:57 AM · #4
I assume your subject is not too far from or too close to the camera. Try setting your flash to manual mode at full power and setting your diaphragm at maximum aperture. If you still get a dark picture with those settings you are either too far from the subject or too close, as would be the case if your are taking a macro shot with the subject only a couple of inches away from the lens, in which case your sb600 would be worthless (you would need a ring flash for such purpose). If you get an overexposed picture with the above settings, all you need to do to arrive at the correct settings is to stop down your diaphragm or decrease your flash power or a combination of those two actions. Good luck. feel free to pm me if you have any further questions.
03/21/2008 02:01:52 AM · #5
The darkness you see could be the lens shadow.
03/22/2008 02:09:45 AM · #6
I'm sorry I've been out of town for the day. Thank you everyone so much for replying!

I really can't take a photo of the set up, its just my Nikon D50 with the sb600 on top, like normal but with tubes and lens on. I have my D50 with the extension tubes on the front, with the 50mm f1.8 lens attached to the tubes. I have the sb600 on the camera hotshoe. I was saying I also have a flash adapter and another flash IF I need it to make this kinda thing work. I had the adapter and flash for another digital camera I had that did not have a hot shoe.

The problem is that this is Manual Focus. The camera does not recognize that it has a lens/tubes on it, therefore I have to set it in MF and M. There is no auto focus illumination or whatever thats called, the trigger that would make a slave flash work... The only thing that happens when I snap a photo is the sound of the shutter button inside the camera. My camera can not communicate with the flashes, the only thing my camera does in this mode is shutter speed and iso setting (as far as I know). The only light that is on my subject would be a lamp/softbox. This is also indoor shooting. I have not tried the extension tubes outside yet. The extension tubes make it so that I have to be very close to the subject. There is no shadow because there is no flash, no light.

By the way, I have the same problem if I reverse my 50mm f1.8 lens with no tubes. Because of the reversal ring my camera does not recognize there is a lens on and I have to set it in MF & M and the sb600 will not work and there is no AF illumination (red light) to trigger another flash.

I hope I am explaining myself clearly. Below are two photos, one if the unedited NEF with no processing, the other is the NEF with exposure to add light and some editing. This was taken with a 150watt lamp about 6 inches from the subject (cats nose). I know the focus is off, but I was just experimenting and had the lens set to f1.8 to try to get in as much light as possible.

th_DSC_7154.jpg th_DSC_7154-2.jpg

03/22/2008 03:10:32 AM · #7
It is a mystery why your flash is not being triggered while mounted on the hotshoe, however, even if you get it to trigger, it will not properly light a subject as close as the one you are intending to shoot; for that, you will need a ring flash specially made for macro photography. You may try taking your sb600 out of the hotshoe, placing it to the side of the subject and triggering it with a pc-cable, you will get more light on the subject that way, but it will be all from one side. You may then try placing a second (slave) flash on the opposite side, you will get more uniform light with the two flashes but it will be difficult to find a balance between them. If you are wanting to do macro photography with extension tubes and a 50mm lens you will always have problems with lighting due to the close distance from lens to subject. It will be easier to light your subject if you use macro lenses, particularly with focal lengths of 100mm or more.
03/22/2008 03:18:16 AM · #8
Have you tried looking thru the manual that came with the D50?
Does the on camera flash work with that lens setup and manual settings?
Shutter speed may have to be manually set below "sync" speed in order for the flash to fire in manual mode. I am not sure what shutter speed that is for the D50, but it is 1/180 sec with the Fuji that I use. If the flash fires, it will stop any motion going on, even at the low shutter speed.
Does the flash work when you have the camera set to an auto mode?
In the worst case, you can shoot at 1 sec with tripod, and manually trigger the flash.


03/22/2008 08:19:28 PM · #9
Thank you all so much for your help.

I guess it pays to read the manual. I read the sb-600 manual.. Its a bit daunting since I don't understand most of the wording, but I figured out that as long as it was set to TTL on the flash that it would try to find the TTL connection from the camera, which the camera is not giving off because its in manual mode.. So, I changed the mode on the flash to manual and Poof! Flash! I knew it was just a setting or something I was overlooking. So now that I can get the hotshoe flash to work, I can get the slave to work too. So its great!

Thanks again! So Much :)

Here are a few shots of a houseplant I took as soon as I figured out it worked. I feel like even when I have the f/stop set to the lowest (f22), the area that is in focus is still small, like on the water drop shot. Any suggestions on that?

Minimal Editing, Handheld

th_DSC_7304.jpg th_DSC_7305.jpg th_DSC_7314.jpg

03/22/2008 10:01:54 PM · #10
Do the ext tubes have the mechanical linkage that pulls the aperture down when you shoot? Some of the inexpensive ones are made without that feature, so that you have to manually stop the lens down when you are about to take the shot.
You have to do the manual stop down before the shot no matter what lens, if you want to shoot at smaller apertures while set up with the lens backwards. You can find out if it is working with the set up by pushing the "stop down" button. It's on the front of the body on most cameras, next to the lens on the right. You could also watch the lens from the front and trigger the shutter with it set to f 22, and you can see the aperture close inside the lens.
When you get into very small macro territory, the DOF becomes small as well, so you will have to work that out as you compose, and plan your point of view to try to get the parts of the subject to line up more in the same plane with your sensor. Many true macro lenses have f 32 available for that reason.
Try putting a diffuser on the flash to help prevent the hard highlights like you can see in the first example . The 3rd shot looks very nice.
There is a 30 day "macro" side challenge going on. If you post a few there, you will get some good feedback, and maybe some helpful suggestions from some photogs that know much more about macro than I do.
Here's the link for you; March 30 day Macro Side Ch.
03/22/2008 11:03:36 PM · #11
Thanks so much MelonMusketeer. I do have to manually set the aperture on the lens. If by that you mean unlocking and then spinning the ring on the lens. I can see the light grow brighter and darker in the viewfinder. I will look into the macro challenge.. I love macro work.. I want to do some Ursula type shots while its spring so I need to start practicing! :) thanks again!
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