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The key to getting a macro photo is being able to get your lens in really, really close. To do that, you need a very short minimum focusing distance. You've seen how extension tubes let you get your lens closer to a subject. I've got here something that's basically a variation on an extension tube, and that is a bellows. Now a bellows is a bit . . . sometimes a bit heavier, a bit clunkier, and a lot more fragile than a set of extension tubes. The advantage of it is that it's got tremendous variability.
I can actually find the exact level of extension that I want with very fine control. So, what I've done here is I've mounted a 50 mm lens on the front of this very small, very lightweight bellows. And with that, I can extend just exactly to where I need to get the cropping that I want. So, I am going to just set this here, and grab a shot real quick. I'm employing all of the things that you've seen me do, working with a normal macro lens. I'm using live view to keep my hands off the camera.
I have got ISO 800 here. Now, when I do this, I lose aperture control over my lens, because I've broken the electrical contacts. You might be able to find a bellows that actually delivers those electrical contacts. I went for cheap, and it didn't come with any. So, I am just working manually here; this means that the lens is basically wide open at f1.8. There are tricks that you can use to close the aperture down. If you want to learn more about those, check out my Reverse Lens Mini Course to see how that works.
So, I am just going to grab a shot here. And, there we go. I'm in real tight with what is nothing more than a 50 mm lens. So, a bellows is another version of an extension tube. Personally, I prefer extension tubes, just because they're more durable. They're a little bit easier to work with. But if you are doing a lot of studio work, investing in a nice bellows gives you a lot more flexibility.
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