Andy Westlake takes a look at a pair of extension tubes from Meike
Meike MK-P-AF3A 10mm + 16mm extension tube set at a glance:
- Good budget option
- Price: £27
- Website: www.amazon.co.uk
Usually we cover equipment from established manufacturers here, but occasionally we like to go delving around the vast marketplace of the internet. On eBay and Amazon you can often find kit at bargain prices, not just second-hand but also new. The question is whether any of the unfamiliarly named Chinese manufacturers make decent products, given their often surprisingly low cost.
One interesting brand is Meike, which offers a wide variety of photographic products including flashguns, camera battery grips and even some lenses. Here we’re looking at a pair of extension tubes, 16mm and 10mm, for Micro Four Thirds cameras; similar ones are also available for Fujifilm X and Sony E mounts. When placed between the camera and lens, they reduce the minimum focus distance, allowing close-up shooting (but at the expense of infinity focus).
In terms of build, these tubes are nicely made, with well-machined metal mounts that fit precisely to both the camera and lens. The body of each tube is plastic rather than metal, but they feel strong enough, especially given the light weight of the lenses most likely to be used on them. The interior is finished in matte black to minimise reflection of stray light, and a full set of electronic contacts enables both aperture setting and autofocus (unlike on SLRs, this still works quite happily).
The exact effect you’ll get is very lens dependent, but I found these tubes worked well with standard zooms and short telephoto primes. For example, with the Olympus 45mm f/1.7, using both together reduces the minimum focus distance from 48cm to 20.5cm, giving an image area 27mm wide, corresponding to 0.65x magnification. With kit zooms such as the Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 or Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3, the working distance is reduced to about 1.5cm from the front of the lens; with the latter this means greater than life-size magnification. Overall, they’re a great budget option for experimenting with close-up photography.