I wanted to see if I could turn a 600mm telephoto lens into a makeshift macro lens. Did I manage to get any decent macro photos out of it? You tell me.
I love macro photography, and I find great pleasure in doing it without the need to purchase a macro lens. There's something about camera hacks that I just adore: being able to make your own DIY setup and still get amazing photographs really appeals to me. Usually, it's because I get to save money and acquire great shots at the same time. But in this case, I just wanted to see what would happen if I took a $12,000 AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens and stacked it with 68mm of extension tubes for macro photographs.
Did I fail? Did I succeed? You be the judge.
The standard minimum focusing distance of the AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR is 4.4 meters, which, for macro photography, is useless. You want to get as close as possible for the given focal length in order to capture details you wouldn't normally see with the naked eye. That's why macro lenses focus close to the lens.
My 600mm Macro Setup
When I say I turned the 600mm lens into a macro, I'm being a little hyperbolic. What I actually did was place extension tubes between the camera and the lens. Extension tubes are essentially just rings that have no glass in the middle and are designed to set the lens farther away from the image sensor, thereby forcing the point of focus to converge nearer the end of the lens.
I Had Some Issues
With lenses of this size and weight, you mount the camera to the lens, and not the other way around. Another practical step you take is to hold the setup via the lens tripod collar when carrying it around to avoid putting stress on the lens mount and risk breaking it. However, because I used all three of my Opteka AF extension tubes, I was adding three other possible places for lost connections. It may be for this reason or perhaps the fact that I was using $70 extension tubes on a $12,000 telephoto lens, but I noticed the lens wasn't happy on this setup. There was intermittent shuddering, which I think may have been a communication issue between the VR in the lens and the camera body; either way, it was still useable, but it didn't fill me with confidence while experimenting.
It's Way Too Heavy
This beast weighs nearly 4 kg, and holding it up without a tripod is something that even bodybuilder Terry Crews would struggle with. It's not just the weight but the length of it that'll burn your delts and biceps, as it's 432 mm (17") long. Luckily, it has four stops of vibration reduction (image stabilization to you and me), so it'll hold the picture rock-steady when you need it, but even so, I wouldn't recommend this for following butterflies around the garden unless you want to be a weightlifter.
Focus Was Incredibly Precise
Working Distance Was Ace
Images Were Tack-Sharp
Would I Use It Again?
I managed to capture some nice close-up shots, despite perhaps not being exactly a genuine 1:1 reproduction ratio macro, and it was all pretty instant and simple. It's obviously not something anyone would ever seriously entertain because it's so expensive and heavy, but it's important to experiment and try new things out.