Topic: Extension Tubes for Closeups in Brickfilming

One thing I've been looking into recently is the use of extension tubes to achieve closer focusing in brickfilms. Essentially, an extension tube allows you to mount a lens (usually a manual lens) further from the sensor, which reduces the minimum focal distance. It's commonly done in macro photography, and yet I've not heard of people doing it in brickfilming.

Normally when people want closeups here, my understanding is that we all use diopters, which are basically small lenses that you place on the front of your main lens to reduce the focal distance. The downside of these is that they are often low-quality glass, and produce aberrations and other undesirable distortions. If you're shooting on a nice Nikkor prime lens, it's really a shame to have that quality loss for closeups.

I've looked around and found some LEGO photography using extension tubes, and it all looks pretty good -- notably, it tends to look cleaner and not have that distorted diopter look that I see in a lot of brickfilms.

Link with more examples

The image below demonstrates some of what I'm talking about as far as diopter distortion, notice the warped, fuzzy edges on the left:

Whereas extension tube photos I've found never have that kind of distortion:

Of course, this only really works if you are working with manual lenses (or want to shell out the cash for electronic extension tubes), but I thought I'd see if anybody has tried using extension tubes in a brickfilm. I recently purchased a cheap Fotodiox set of extension tubes, I'm excited to see what I can do with them in a brickfilming context once I get a chance.

Re: Extension Tubes for Closeups in Brickfilming

I've used extension tubes a bunch and they're nice. If you have a zoom lens with macro you usually don't need anything more, but mounting a shorter fixed lens on an extension tube works really well. Only downside is the depth of field becomes so smalll you need to crank the aperture down to 16 or 22 to get a reasonable image, depending on the length of the tube.

Re: Extension Tubes for Closeups in Brickfilming

Same with me. I use them with all my current animations. Ghosting NXT here, normally you would need an fstop of at least 13 in my experience, but I have worked with f3.5 on the tubes and it looks really nice! I recommend getting the fotodiox extension tubes. For the price, they are constructed wonderfully out of thick metal. But they are not electronic tubes, meaning you must set your aperture before mounting the lens on the tubes (assuming your lens doesn't have a manual aperture ring).

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Re: Extension Tubes for Closeups in Brickfilming

I have 3 (8mm, 14mm, & 27.5mm) and I love them, it also lets you use get close ups on longer lenses like 105mm which make the sets less crowded then trying to get a close up on a shorter lens.

I wasn't even trying to get that close with this shot, I just used the 27.5mm extention and a 105mm lens, if I use all three together I can get a shot that fills up the whole frame with just a minifigs face.

I do agree with NXTManiac, you probably don't want to shoot under f/16 with them.

This is the 14mm on my 55mm lens shot at f/11

If you plan to use them a lot it's nice to have lens with the option of f/32 just in case you need a lot in focus. I have some older Nikon tubes, the PK-1, PK-2, & PK-3.

Re: Extension Tubes for Closeups in Brickfilming

These seem interesting. I shoot on a Canon 24-70mm f2.8L lens and have never liked the idea of the diopters. I don't like them because I have a really high quality lens and the diopters would ruin that because of the cheap glass and distortion . I like that these tubes don't add more glass. I found a set for EF mount lenses for around $80 but that seems kind of outrageous just to try something out. I look forward to seeing if this works out.

Re: Extension Tubes for Closeups in Brickfilming

Is the extent to which extension tubes make the depth of field shallow any worse than diopters? I've always been frustrated by how ludicrously shallow diopters make my macro shots. Albeit, this experience has been in live action films, where you can't stop the aperture down that much because of light.

Re: Extension Tubes for Closeups in Brickfilming

Yep AquaMorph, no extra glass added into the equation, I'm guessing the Canon extensions cost a lot because the camera can still talk to and use automatic settings.

The depth can be crazy shallow, the longer the extensions used the shallower the DOF is. That's why most macro lenses have options where you can stop down to f/32, it shouldn't be a problem for LEGO with long exposure, depending on what I need I'll shoot between f/11-22 normally, unless you are trying to fill the full frame with the face with all attached extensions (they can stack), then you might wan't to use f/32 so the corners of the face to go out of focus.

Re: Extension Tubes for Closeups in Brickfilming

I bought some extension tubes (Fotodiox brand) and they are working well, except that my lens-adapter doesn't screw in all the way, and the lens is upside down. I haven't yet used them for Brickfilming, although I plan to Saturday. But here's a picture I took. The aperture was on 2 when I took this photo. I took another one with the aperture all the way up on 16, and it was so blurry you could barely see the guy's face. want a closeup. by rioforce, on Flickr

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Re: Extension Tubes for Closeups in Brickfilming


I've been having some frustrations with my fotodiox extension tubes. I often find on mid-closeups with my lenses (Mir 1b and Helios 44-2) that I can't get the focus where I want it on mid-close shots. The rings only get me past the minifig, or in front of it. I could pull the camera further or closer to the subject to get focus where I want it, but that often ruins the shot composition at these tight distances.

I've then had to go back to using diopters, which distort the image so much when you're focusing this close that I have to fix it in post, and even then it's not as nice as with extension tubes.

My research indicates there is such a thing as a "variable extension tube" that lets you lock in the extension to the precise length you need to get your shot in focus. They seem pricey though. This kind of thing, but that one has electronics in it that I obviously wouldn't need. Also that tube looks like it's way longer than the longest possible focus distance I would need, at its minimum length. Does anybody have experience with these?

Re: Extension Tubes for Closeups in Brickfilming

Like I said in chat, more lens choices is going to give you more flexibility, limiting yourself to two lenses is just going to make perfect composition difficult even with the extension tubes, having a wide, medium and long lens is a great place to start.