I was photographing in the Galapagos last week. Every time I visit I just can’t believe how close the wildlife comes to the camera. The Galapagos enforces a six foot rule….meaning you can’t get closer than six feet to wildlife…a little different than the typical national park 75 yards! This trip I wanted to do something different, so I brought my Z 800mm F6.3 lens with me. For the most part you can do great with a 100-400mm, but I wanted to really get close to birds and iguanas. I checked the minimum focus distance on my 800mm…about 16 feet. How to focus closer? Add some extension tubes.
I bought two sets of the Nikon Z version of the Vello extension tubes. Each set has two tubes and gives you 32mm of extension. With one set I could focus around 12 feet, and with both sets attached I could focus around 8 feet. The tubes offer full autofocus and metering, and attached to my Z9 they worked just fine.
The 800mm felt a little heavy out front with the tubes attached, but things worked smoothly. I was thrilled at how close I could get to booby chicks and iguanas…a very intimate view!
At one point I added a third set of tubes for a full 86mm of extension. This was too much extension, and the aperture setting didn’t show in the viewfinder. But after taking off 20mm of extension the camera once again worked. I did notice single point autofocus was spotty, no doubt due to the large amount of light loss with so much extension. At around $70 these tubes work as advertised, and allow you to focus closer with your telephotos and macro lenses.