Extreme Macro Adapters

by Johan J Ingles-Le Nobel
Last updated May 13, 2017

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You'll get used to dealing with boxes and boxes of adapters when you start extreme macro, and I have a couple of them filled with all sorts of weird and wonderful things.

But there are some especially useful adapter sites and sellers that I'd like to point people towards as they've proven especially useful to me over the time that I've done extreme macro.

For what it's worth, eBay is usually the first place I always look for adapters and the choice on there is usually very good. But two things to watch out for: in the long run it will help you to get an adapter that is marked with what it does (ie has 49 - 62 in white writing on the side), and watch out for the delivery times.

Macro adapters

Lens adapters. I have boxes and boxes of them: ebay seller Jinfinance is always the place I look first or mail if I need something especially weird and obscure.

Jinfinance

The ebay seller Jinfinance is always the place I look first or mail if I need something especially weird and obscure.

For example he is the only one who I know of who does the M42 diaphragm and the M25 Nikon infinite adaptor.

Jinfinance is also always open to ideas for new things to make so if you have a weird and wonderful adapter requirement it's worth popping him a mail.

Macrorings.com

Although I tend to eschew generic marketing driven sites like this, macrorings has proven to be quite useful on occasion. For example they do a nice 49mm-49mm female-female which is harder to find than hen's teeth.

Adriano Lolli

A specialist Italian source for some very unusual adapters in both the macro and micro worlds, Adriano Lolli will also custom build adapters to your exact requirements. Adriano Lolli has a well-earned reputation in photomacrography and photomicrography circles.

Rafcamera.com

Good European source for adapters and cine lenses for old ex Soviet bloc brands such as Lomo, Helios etc. Also makes custom adapters in unusual sizes. For example a 34.5mm adapter to 48mm, which lets you mount a Baader Venus filter onto a 80mm El-Nikkor f/5.6 (older version with chrome) for UV fluorescence photography.

Adapter Delivery Times

Beyond these two Internet shopping sites that I especially like, ebay is a very good source for adapter rings of all shapes and sizes, especially if you search by global delivery (as opposed to UK sellers with UK delivery).

Seems to me that UK sellers selling into the UK typically charge between 2x and 10x as much for the same item that you can order directly from a reseller in the Far East, ie China.

I've made several hundred eBay purchases of which quite a few were adapters from the Far East, and as long as you make sure that you're ordering the correct item, the quality of good that they provide is as good if not better than the goods sold by UK camera shops and sellers.

But you will have to wait a bit longer, that's the downside. So expect to wait 2-4 weeks for a cheap £5 adapter that'd cost you £15 and arrive in a couple of days if you bought it from a UK person.

Adapter Strategy

If you're planning to get serious about extreme macro then it's probably worth your while planning an adapter strategy. What I mean by this is some common size, that you choose all your adapters round: a size that you make all your adapters fit to because you have both male to males and females to females, and you already have the bellows end at this size so you only need to buy one adapter for the next unusual lens that you purchase. Mine happens to be 49mm but I know of others who use M42.

Step Up Rings

Step-up rings have an end with a male thread to be mounted on the camera lens and the other end, with a female thread, that accepts filters, more rings or other photography accessories. A step up ring has two size markings in millimeter: the first number is the male thread, closest to the camera, and the second is the size of the female thread. For example, a step-up ring marked 49mm-52mm means the male and female thread sizes are 49mm and 52mm, respectively. Step down rings are similar to step ups except instead of increasing in size they decrease. Ie a step-down marked 52mm-49mm means the male and female thread sizes are 52mm and 49mm, respectively. If you buy a filter larger than the largest filter ring on your largest lens you can use these to make it fit any lens.

Watch Out For

It's worth doublechecking your 42mm adapter purchases that it's the right one. "M42" means M42 x 1 mm standard, which in turn means that it is a metric screw thread of 42 mm diameter and 1mm thread pitch. There is also a T42 mount which also uses a 42mm thread, but the pitch is finer at 0.75mm. The two pitches are not interchangeable, and attempting to mount an M42 lens on a T mount or vice-versa, may damage the thread of lens or mount. T42 is a common mount in astronomy circles; the T is said to stand for Tamron, a Japanese manufacturer that released in 1957 the first of a line of aftermarket camera lenses that fit 35 mm SLR cameras built by various manufacturers using their universal T-mount. On the first model, the T-mount used a M37x0.75 thread; Tamron's M42x0.75 T-thread didn't appear on the market until about 1962. The company referred to it variously as a T-mount, T-thread, T-adapter, or a T-400.

Comments (3)

Article: Adapters
Harold Gough says...
Yes, you have to consider the image circle. There are two factors which help me there. Half frame aka m/43 leaves some room for even a normal image circle to be used and my 90mm Schneider has a large image circle. I could also use my OM 50mm shift lens (reversed, and prices have halved over the past year).
15th November 2013 9:48am
Harold Gough says...
One adapter worth considering, to give greater DOF, is a tilt adapter. They are available for legacy lenses, which I use almost exclusively. They are available from jinfinance on Ebay.

I have been trying mine out but ran out of season before I could do much with it. One success:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1247442 (I post as e6filmuser).

Helicoid extension rings, such as for M42, are very useful for lenses which have no focus mechanism, such as enlarger lenses.
15th November 2013 7:53am
Johan says...
Harold, good point. Despite designing a remarkable shift tilt adapter on paper to have it machined for me, I ended up shying away from using a tilt adapter because of the larger image circle required from the lens for the tilt adapter to cope. On the other hand there are medium format enlarger lenses available so maybe this is worth reconsidering. Shift tilt should give some very interesting effects with the increased increased depth of field at an angle. Agreed on focusing helicoids - and covered at http://extreme-macro.co.uk/focusing-helicoid/
15th November 2013 9:28am
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