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Vello EXT-CME AF Extension Tube Set – Full Review

By Anthony Thurston on August 31st 2014

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I am always looking for ways to get more out of my EOS-M than just for video, which is what I normally use them for. While looking for some fun accessories to try on the M, I came across this Vello branded set of extension tubes. I figured macro photography could be a fun way to play with these little cameras, so I put in an order to B&H and below is the resulting review for these Vello EXT-CME AF Extension Tubes.

02-performance-3-stars

I was honestly a little disappointed with the performance of these extension tubes. The advantage to these over my other set (which is a standard Canon EF mount) is that these have the metal contacts so that any lens I stick on the front of these will retain their ability to auto focus and communicate with the camera (for things like aperture control and metering).

The AF on the EOS-M is already not the best, but AF with these extension tubes, at least on the lens I tested these with, seems pointless. Specifically with the Canon 22mm F/2. Due to the lens being so wide, it requires being stupid close to your subject (so much so that I wouldn’t recommend that lens for use with extension tubes of any kind) that the AF is extremely slow and finicky.

Unfortunately, this is also the only EF-M lens with auto focus that I have available to me. It is possible that this tube set pairs better with one of the other, longer, AF EF-M lenses, but I was unable to test that.

As far as the macro ability possible with these tubes, that also depends greatly on the lens you pair them with, but I was very happy with the level of macro ability when paired with the 22mm F/2 and the Handevision 40mm F/.85 that I am also reviewing.  Here are a few examples below…

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Canon EOS-MEF-M 22mm F/2 @ F/4 – ISO 1600 Shutter 1/80th – 10mm & 16mm tubes

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Canon EOS-MEF-M 22mm F/2 @ F/2 – ISO 1600 Shutter 1/80th – 10mm & 16mm tubesIMG_4373

Canon EOS-MEF-M 22mm F/2 @ F/8 – ISO 1600 Shutter 1/50th – 10mm tube

As you can see, at F/2, the depth of field is VERY narrow, to the point I would say that unless you are focus stacking, it is pointless to shoot that wide open. That said, at F/4 things looked better, and at F/8 things were good. You will definitely want to be lighting subjects while using these tubes (which is true of any macro extension tube set).

08-features-4-starsThe features of this extension tube set are great, not only are you able to turn any of your EF-M lenses into a macro lens, but you are also able to still control the lens with the camera for AF and aperture control. This is incredibly useful for EF-M lenses, most of which do not have aperture rings.

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You could, if you wanted, also pair these extension tubes with the Canon EF-M to EF adapter and use these with your standard EF/EF-S glass. I am unsure of how that would perform, but it is a possibility available to you.

12-design-3-starsAs far as the design of these extension tubes goes, it is pretty basic. They match the black color of most EOS-M bodies, which is nice, and the text is in white.

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17-quality-3-starsThe build quality on these tubes is, well, not very good. They are made out of a cheap plastic, which is nice for the weight savings (especially on a small camera like the EOS-M), but they feel like they could break at any time.

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I certainly wouldn’t trust these to hold up a heavy lens without help either. I did test these with the Handevision Ibelux 40mm F/.85, which is an extremely heavy lens, and you could see the strain it put on the plastic parts. That said, for most EF-M lenses which are pretty light on their own, these should be fine. I wouldn’t expect them to hold up to much, if any, abuse though, so be careful with them.

23-value-4-starsThe value here is hard to deny though, pricing in at just under $50 these offer EOS-M shooters the ability to shoot macro on a budget. The build quality may not be the best, but it is sufficient. The AF performance may not be the best, but it is useable. Overall, I would say that these are a great value for anyone wanting to get some very close macro images out of the EOS-M.

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30-overall-score-3-stars
In the end, while this is not the best built product, nor the highest performing, it does get the job done for a great value. Most of you with EOS-M bodies are probably getting them on the cheap, so spending a lot on accessories would be silly. These fit that nice sweet spot of performing decently well, while still being a great value.

I am happy to give this product an overall “Worth Trying Out” 3 out of 5 stars on the SLR Lounge rating scale. If you have an EOS-M and are interested in using it for any sort of macro work, these would be a fun accessory to play around with.  If you are interested in trying them out, you can find them over on B&H here.

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

3 Comments

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  1. Basit Zargar

    I love to focus manually

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  2. Ian Moss

    I’ve never even tried using AF with extension tubes. I just rock slightly back and forth till the image is in focus. Seems to work for me.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Aye, I found that worked much better than trying to fiddle with the AF. Still, I can see some situations where AF may be more convenient. The true advantage here is that the camera can still control the aperture and meter through the tubes to the lens.

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