Hasselblad 503cx with 32-E Extension tube and 120mm Planar Makro 2019 copyright by Douglas Stockdale
I just noticed that my Memory Pods subjects are just starting to bud and as I stated at the end of last year for this seasonal year I needed to augment my 120mm Makro lens with an extension tube. Primarily to increase the magnification by focusing closer and to be able to fill the frame with my subject.
From past experience I had found out that a 21mm extension tube did not provide sufficient closer focus, but that was with the 150mm lens and not a 120mm Makro lens, which is designed for closer focusing and increasing magnification. Thus I had stacked two 21mm extension tubes with my 150mm lens which did provide a closer focus. BUT being a rookie using the Hasselblad extension tubes, I was unaware of the Hasselblad rule for lens and camera engagement using an extension tube (see below for the correct order). I had really locked up my lens, extension tubes and camera by trying to take the lens and extension tube off in the wrong order and I spent a lot of money at the camera repair shop. Bad, bad, bad!
A year ago I had a very old 500 C/M body and after the body, lens and extension tubes went into the repair shop a second time to disengage the camera body from the lens and extension tubes I subsequently sold the two 21mm extension tubes and traded the 500 C/M body for a newer used 503cx. I thought that the camera/lens/tube locking issue was due the older 500 C/M body, not knowing that I was removing these comonents in the wrong order. I also purchased a used 120mm Makro but regretfully found that the Makro still was not focusing close enough for my series. Now I found myself back to reconsidering another extension tube. But which? I wanted to avoid stacking extension tubes due to what happen last time.
While investigating the extension tubes I came across the Hasselblad notice regarding the need to very carefully follow a very strict order to mount and dismount extension tubes. Yikes! I guess it is better to find out about this later than never at all. So here is what Hasselblad states to do OR you will lock up your camera and lens (which I can attest to!);
First: mount the extension tube to the camera body. Make sure it is in sync with the lens mount (cocked).
Second: mount the lens to the extension tube. (or a second extension tube followed by the lens).
To remove, repeat in the opposite order (Don’t remove the extension tube while it is still mounted to the lens!); first remove the lens from the extension tube. Then remove the extension tube from the camera body. Don’t try to remove the extension tube from the body with the lens still attached! (yes, repeating myself, it’s that important)
I wish somebody would have told me this a year ago as I might still be using that same 500 C/M and the two 21mm extension tubes now in conjunction with the 120mm Makro.
Okay, now that I realized that I needed to carefully follow the rules for mounting and unmounting an extension tube and lens; now which extension tube to purchase?
I still wanted to purchase a single extension tube and I had two options; a 32-E (which is a 32mm extension tube) or a 56-E (56mm tube). The two previous 21mm had provided a combined 42mm of extension which seemed okay with my 150mm lens, but that lens did not focus as close compared to the 120mm Makro. Regretfully the Hasselblad lens charts did not make much sense to me, but my gut said that a 32mm tube would probably work really well with the 120mm Makro while the 56m might provide too much magnification for what I intended to photograph. Thus I bought a used 32-E extension tube that was stated to be in great shape.
My 32-E extension tube arrived on Saturday and today was the film test. First, the extension tube was indeed in great shape (eBay seller will get a nice review). Second I took careful note to make sure the the extension tube was in alignment with the 120mm Makro lens. I then diligently followed the mounting sequence recommended by Hasselblad (above), which worked fine as well. I also practice unmounting as recommended and NO issues (praise the Lord!).
What I had also noted from the on-line comments about extension tubes and per Hasselblad that when using this extension tube that I was going to loose about one stop in exposure. So I did a test bracket with a roll of film to ensure that this was true, but in retrospect, with the 120mm Makro in the close focusing mode, you also loose about a half stop in exposure. Which I forgot to take into consideration. Bummer. My Fujichrome 100 has an ISO 100, so the very first exposure was not adjusted for the light loss, then the second exposure was calculated using an ISO 50 (essentially my EI, Exposure Index to use the zone terminology) with my spot meter to give an extra stop (more light) in exposure. When I evaluate the processed film (I had also included a gray card in some of my test photographs) in about one week, I should be able to calculate how much I need to adjust the EI (Exposure Index or my ISO) for the film with this lens and extension tube combination.
This is getting pretty exciting for me. I really, really like what I was seeing in the view finder with this 32-E extension tube and the 120mm Makro lens while photographing my subjects. It appears that I had chosen well with the 32-E purchase as the framing of my subject is just about perfect as to what I was pre-visualizing. Btw, anyone wanting to donate a 56-E for me to evaluate would be very much appreciated!
I also did an exposure bracket with a shallow depth of field (f/4.0) and with more depth of field (f/11) for the same composition with this extension tube and lens combination.
So now I am waiting on the results. Yes, I do not process color or black and white film any longer so I am at the mercy of the pro film processing lab. Otherwise this roll of moderately expired film would have been in the soup this afternoon and I would be able to provide more feedback. So you, like me, get to work on our patience together.
Btw, I had purchased an expensive (cheap!) lens hood for the 120mm Makro which after a year, fell apart. sigh. So I purchased a used Hasselblad lens hood for this lens and after removing years of tape residuals, is working and looking pretty good.