Macro Lens Vs Extension Tubes – What provides the best results?


Macro lenses solve the problem of imaging a small field of view from a relatively large distance away (relative to the size of the field of view). This solution normally consists of a large focal length lens, however these lenses have Minimum Object distance (MOD) and focus further away than desired.

For example: Using a 1/3” sensor, you want to look at a 3mm Field Of View (FOV) from 30mm away. The solution requires a 50mm lens, but 50mm lenses do not focus closer than 500mm away in some cases!
A solution is to add “extension tubes” in between the camera and the lens, but this leads to several problems like high image distortion, resolution loss (especially at the corners), poor depth of field and chromatic effects.  This makes this method not suitable for good imaging especially if accurate measurements are required.  

What’s the solution?
Opto Engineering Macro lenses!  These lenses are specifically designed for macro imaging allowing close up focusing and small field of views.  Unlike conventional lenses, these lenses are optimized to overcome image distortion, poor depth of field and chromatic effects.  A very low optical distortion makes these lenses perfectly suitable for precise dimensional measurement applications.  

As seen on the images to the right, using a macro lens delivers superior image quality compared to standard fixed focal length camera lenses using extension tubes.  

Incredibly low distortion is also provided by these macro lenses compared to standard fixed focal lenses with extension tubes.  These lenses will provide the same performance at the center and edges of the field of view.

This is crucial in flat measurement applications. 

Using conventional lenses, measurements will not be accurate and require calibration.  

Color consistency is provided by these macro lenses for demanding applications and corrected over the visible spectrum.  In turn, chromatic aberrations are not exhibited when compared to conventional lenses.  

Opto Engineering provides four series of lenses that cover 1/3″ to 2/3″ format area sensors and up to 63mm line scan sensors – Series as follows: 

  • MC Zero distortion macro lens (0.33  – 3X mag)
  • MC3-03X – Zero distortion, multi-configuration macro lens (0.1 – 3X mag)
  • MC4K  – Macro lenses for 4k linescan cameras (0.3 – 2X mag)  
  • MC12K – Macro lenses for 12k and 16k linescan cameras (0.07 – 2X mag)

Full Specifications can be found HERE.  

This short video provides a brief overview of the Opto Engineering Macro series lenses

1st Vision has extensive knowledge in industrial imaging and can help answer any questions.  We have over 100 years of combined knowledge and look forward to discussing your application.  

Please do not hesitate to Contact us for a quote. 1st Vision can provide a complete solution including cameras, lenses, lighting and cables.  

Ph:  978-474-0044  

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