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Jan 23

Review: Fujifilm 11mm Extension Tube MCEX-11

Fuji surprised the market by releasing something that is both the first of its kind and something that people have been waiting for since the beginning of mirrorless: Native OEM extension tubes. It’s surprising to me that it took 6 years for the first original equipment manufacturer to create extension tubes for their system.  In November 2014, Fuji announced the MCEX-11 and MCEX-16: 11mm and 16mm extension tubes for their X-Series cameras.  Third party manufacturers have made a handful of extension tubes for various mounts for some time, but these two are the first from the camera manufacturers themselves.  In this short review, I’m going to take a look at the Fuji 11mm extension tube, the MCEX-11, which retails for $99 (available here).

Fuji MCEX-11 11mm Extension Tube

Fuji MCEX-11 11mm Extension Tube

A bit about Extension Tubes

This review is going to be a bit different from many of my other reviews.  I will have some image samples of the tubes used with various lenses, but I’m not doing my standard shooting for this review because I think it’s more important to go over what adding a tube gets you vs. native macro lenses and how it works with the current Fuji lenses.

First off, for those uninitiated, let’s go over what an extension tube does for your photography. An extension tube is simply a small tube that duplicates the lens mount a bit further from the sensor plane than usual.  This has the effect of shortening focus.  As such, lenses will focus significantly closer than usual, while the ability to focus at a distance is removed.  The gist is, an extension tube allows you to do the following things:

  • Get additional magnification for macro lenses
  • Utilize non-macro lenses for macro or close-up work
The MCEX-11

The MCEX-11

Basically, it’s a cheap way to enhance the macro capabilities of macro lenses and turn non-macro lenses into macro lenses (or at least, close-up lenses).  The longer you extend the lens, the closer you can focus.  At the same time, the more the extension, the more of the distant focus capabilities are lost.  With normal and short telephoto lenses, adding an extension tube gives a very narrow range of focusing capabilities, usually from 1:2 magnification to about 1:4 or 1:5 magnification.  Focusing outside of this range is impossible, which makes working with extension tubes a bit more frustrating than with a dedicated macro lens.  This is also the reason why I opted for the 11mm tube instead of the 16mm tube.  I get a bit less maximum magnification, but a bit more workable range of focusing.  In theory, you should be able to stack the two extension tubes to get even greater magnifications.

There are also some optical downsides that need to be considered when using extension tubes.  Some lens designs aren’t conducive to good quality when extended, and with the short register distance of mirrorless cameras, these compromises may be large depending on the design.  I will get into this in more detail later in the review, but it’s worth noting that almost all Fuji X-mount lenses show some corner smearing when used with extension tubes.  More on that later.

Construction

The MCEX-11 is an extension tube.  There’s not much to a tube…it’s an extended lens mount with electrical contacts and a hole in the middle. It’s worth noting that Fuji has done a nice job with construction here.  It’s a very solidly built tube with tight tolerances.  Both the mount to the camera and mount for the lens are tight without slop, and the entire body of the tube is constructed of metal.  The lens release mechanism operates smoothly and surely, and the electronic contacts mean that all lens functions continue to operate as you’d expect, with aperture control, OIS and autofocus remaining intact.

Continue: Use with selected Fuji X-Mount Lenses

About the author

Jordan Steele

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Admiring Light; Photographer; Electrical Engineer and Dad

6 comments

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  1. Glenn

    Nice review! I picked up the MCEX-11 a couple of weeks ago. I’ve used it with the Carl Zeiss 32mm f1.8 Touit with very nice results. I also noticed the edge smearing you mentioned but as you said, it won’t be an issue with most macro shots.

  2. Jorge

    I’ve been using these for over a year from Fotsay on Amazon. Paid about $20.00 US. And the work great. Comes with two adapters – a 10mm and a 16mm which can be stacked. Results are pretty darn good and it maintains full connectivity to the camera.
    Just an Fyi

    1. Jordan Steele

      I am aware of the Fotasy tubes. As mentioned at the beginning 3rd party tubes have been available for a while. Some people have had great success with these, but the tolerances on some makers have been less than stellar. I have seen reports from a few brands (on several different mounts) where damage to the pins was caused by improper construction by the manufacturer. Of course, there are plenty of third party manufacturers that make very quality products as well, but it’s definitely worth doing the research. I have not used the Fotasy tubes, so I can’t speak to their quality, but I would recommend reading the Amazon reviews before purchasing any third party adapter or tube.

  3. Bill Palmer

    Good write-up, Jordan. I have just taken delivery of an MCEX-16 and intend to spend some time getting to know it on a range of lenses, starting with the 60mm. Thanks in particular for the tip on the 27 – makes sense. FYI both the 60 and the 27 are a 39mm filter thread; I have got around the lack of hood on the 27 by using a screw-in from a Leica 50mm Elmar f2.8. This works really well on the 60mm too and is far less cumbersome than the bazooka-like hood supplied by Fuji.

    I’m very pleased to see Fuji bring out these rings; I’m well aware of the cheaper alternatives but, like legacy lens adaptors, if you buy cheap you buy twice – and gamble with the well-being of your Fuji equipment. I have had some shockers that I wouldn’t – and in one case, couldn’t – mount, for fear of damaging the lens mount or contacts.

    All we need now is a 1.4x teleconverter…

  4. Dan Bailey

    Great review, Jordan. I just tried out both models and picked up the MCEX-11. I agree, the 11mm seems more usable. I also like the working distance and the overall compatibility of the 11mm tube on the 27mm f/2.8 lens. Seems like a pretty good range- close enough without being too close. Also, it’s a great mag. ratio to shoot close up portraits and focus on the eyes, especially with the longer lenses. I look forward to playing around with it and experimenting with some of the different X Series lenses.

  5. Allan Ostling

    Jordan,

    It’s gratifying to know that I was not alone in finding the MCEX-11 totally unsuited for copying negatives with the 60mm. I had high hopes since the 60mm by itself has a good flat field at 1:2 magnification. Since this was my only reason for wanting the increased magnification, I returned the item for a refund.

  1. Review: Fujifilm 11mm Extension Tube MCEX-11 | Jordan Steele

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