52mm Studio Setup for APS-C and full frame sensors

52mm Studio Set-up with D850 and Nikon S Fluor 4x Microscope Objective.

This is my main studio set-up for studio for full frame and APS-C cameras for the past tree years. The setup is based on Thorlabs SM2/52mm extension tubes and Thorlab slip-ring clamps. The setup is very rigid, uses almost all low-cost parts, and easy to configure for any application.

52mm studio setup for Infinity corrected objectives

The Thorlabs/Nikon ITL200 tube lens and SM2/52mm setup is my standard for use with infinity-corrected objectives.

A detailed review of the ITL200 and a tube lens image quality comparison is available here on Closeuphotography.com: https://www.closeuphotography.com/thorlabs-itl200/

Parts list for the 52mm studio setup for Infinity corrected objectives

In addition to the basic SM2/52mm studio setup I add the following parts, left to right:

RafCamera M26 female to SM2 male thread adapter
Official name: M26 (Mitutoyo, Nikon BD) female to M52x0.75 male thread adapter
Retail price: $24-28 USD each
Link to eBay ad: https://www.ebay.com/itm/SM2-male-to-M26x0-75-36tpi-female-thread-adapter-SM2-to-26mm-step-down-ring/143010687289
Link to RafCamera: https://www.rafcamera.com/adapter-sm2m-to-m26f
Note:  This is a new unit that replaces the two-piece unit used in the photo above.

Thorlabs SM2 Extension Tube Without Male Threads 3 inches long
Official name: SM2M30 - SM2 Lens Tube Without External Threads, 3" Thread Depth, Two Retaining Rings Included
Retail price: $34.31 USD each
Link to Thorlabs site: https://www.thorlabs.com/thorproduct.cfm?partnumber=SM2M30
Note:  This tube has only female threads and mounts between the Mitutoyo objective and ITL200.

Thorlabs ITL200 to SM2 Adapter
Official name: Thorlabs SM2A20 Adapter M38 x 0.5 tube lens to SM2 adapter
Retail price: $48.93 USD each
Link to Thorlans site: www.thorlabs.com/thorproduct.cfm?partnumber=SM2A20
Note: This unit uses only male threads.

Thorlabs/Nikon ITL200 tube lens
Official name: ITL200 - Tube Lens, f = 200 mm, External M38 x 0.5 Threads
Retail price: $482.23 USD each
Link to Thorlans site: https://www.thorlabs.com/thorproduct.cfm?partnumber=ITL200
Note: ITL200 lenses were available on eBay for $99 for quite some time so check there first for a better price.

Thorlabs SM2 Stackable Extension Tubes
Official name: Ø2" Stackable Lens Tubes
Retail price: $23-36 USD each
Link to Thorlabs site: https://www.thorlabs.com/newgrouppage9.cfm?objectgroup_id=3383
Note:  The choice of tubes varies depending on use.

RafCamera Adapter Sony E mount to 52mm female thread
Official name: M52x0.75 female thread to Sony E-mount camera adapter
Retail price: $24. USD each
Link to RafCamera site: https://www.rafcamera.com/adapter-m52x0-75f-to-e-mount
Note: Front side - M52x0.75 female thread, Rear side - Sony E-mount. SM2 tubes will thread into this mount without any issues.

Thorlabs Variable Extension Tube
Specs: SM2V15 - Ø2" Adjustable Lens Tube, 1.31" Travel
Retail Price: $53 each
Link: https://www.thorlabs.us/thorproduct.cfm?partnumber=SM2V15
Note: Not required but highly recommended, see the use of this item in the photo below, it sits behind the Sigma tube lens. Supplied with lock ring.

Baisc 52mm studio setup parts list

52mm studio set-up without a lens.

Thorlabs SM2 Slip Ring Clamps
Official name: SM2RC - Ø2.20" Slip Ring for SM2 Lens Tubes, 8-32 Tap
Retail price: $30.99 USD each
Link to Thorlabs site: https://www.thorlabs.com/thorproduct.cfm?partnumber=SM2RC
Note: 3 or 4 pieces are recommended. This unit will have to me mounted to the Small Arca-Swiss compatible clamps

Thorlabs SM2 Stackable Extension Tubes
Official name: Ø2" Stackable Lens Tubes
Retail price: $23-36 ea.
Link to Thorlabs site:https://www.thorlabs.com/newgrouppage9.cfm?objectgroup_id=3383
Note: These are available from 1 inch to 6 inches in length.

Extra Long Arca-Swiss compatible plate

Official name: Haoge 220mm Quick Release Plate
Retail price: $25.
Link to Amazon ad: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015V137L6/

Small Arca-Swiss compatible clamps
Official name: Mini Quick Release Plate Clamp
Retail price: $4.75
Link to eBay ad: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Universal-Tripod-Mini-Quick-Release-Plate-Clamp-1-4-Screw-Aluminium-Alloy-AL/283168779331?
Note:  3 or 4 pcs are recommended. This unit will have to me mounted to the Thorlabs SM2 Slip Ring Clamps

Note pictured here but hight recommended:

Thorlabs Variable Extension Tube
Specs: SM2V15 - Ø2" Adjustable Lens Tube, 1.31" Travel
Retail Price: $53 each
Link: https://www.thorlabs.us/thorproduct.cfm?partnumber=SM2V15

52mm Sudio Set-up components.

Parts List for SM2/52mm Studio Setup with Scanner Nikkor ED Lens

Originally I started working on this set-up for a Scanner Nikkor lens. I used to threaded collars on the front and back of the lens that mount inside the Thorlabs tubes. On the front of the lens I mount about Thorlabs tube to serve as a lens hood and to use a third clamp. With the Scanner-Nikkor the set-up is super solid, and it's quick and easy to dial in any magnification I need. 

52mm Studio Set-up and Scanner-Nikkor ED with Nikon D850

Scanner Nikkor 9000 Studio Set-up

1. Thorlabs SM2 Slip Ring Clamps
Official name: SM2RC - Ø2.20" Slip Ring for SM2 Lens Tubes, 8-32 Tap
Retail price: $30.99 USD each
Link to Thorlabs site: https://www.thorlabs.com/thorproduct.cfm?partnumber=SM2RC
Note: 3 or 4 pieces are recommended. This unit will have to me mounted to the Small Arca-Swiss compatible clamps

2. Thorlabs 2 inch SM2 threaded Sleeve for Scanner Nikkor ED
Official name: SM2T20 - SM2 (2.035"-40) Coupler, External Threads, 2" Long
Retail price: $39.67 USD each
Link to Thorlabs site: https://www.thorlabs.com/thorproduct.cfm?partnumber=SM2T20
Note: 2 pieces are recommended and are included with each SM2 threaded sleeve

3. Thorlabs SM2 Stackable Extension Tubes
Official name: Ø2" Stackable Lens Tubes
Retail price: $23-36 ea.
Link to Thorlabs site:https://www.thorlabs.com/newgrouppage9.cfm?objectgroup_id=3383
Note:  SM2L15, 1.5 inch unit

4. RafCamera Nikon F mount to SM2 female thread adapter
Official name: SM2 female thread to Nikon F camera mount adapter
Retail price: $29-32
Link to RafCamera site: https://www.rafcamera.com/adapter-sm2f-to-nikon-f
Link to eBay ad: https://www.ebay.com/itm/SM2-female-thread-to-Nikon-F-camera-mount-adapter-/14298443471
Note: Thorlabs makes an F-mount to SM2 adapter but I don’t recommend it at this time

5. Thorlabs SM2 Extension Tube Without Male Threads 3 inches long
Official name: SM2M30 - SM2 Lens Tube Without External Threads, 3" Thread Depth, Two Retaining Rings Included
Retail price: $34.31 USD each
Link to Thorlabs site:https://www.thorlabs.com/thorproduct.cfm?partnumber=SM2M30
Note:  1 pcs

6. Scanner Nikkor ED lens

7. Extra Long Arca-Swiss compatible plate

Official name: Haoge 220mm Quick Release Plate
Retail price: $25.
Link to Amazon ad: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015V137L6/
Note:  1 pcs

8. Small Arca-Swiss compatible clamps
Official name: Mini Quick Release Plate Clamp
Retail price: $4.75
Link to eBay ad: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Universal-Tripod-Mini-Quick-Release-Plate-Clamp-1-4-Screw-Aluminium-Alloy-AL/283168779331?
Note:  3 or 4 pcs are recommended. This unit will have to me mounted to the Thorlabs SM2 Slip Ring Clamps

Quick release plate notes

Quick release plate examples.

Go with the lowest cost QR plate available, these work just as well or better than name brand plates. I paid $10 for my plate on Amazon, Ebay has lots of low-cost choices also. Look for clamps like the no-name version on the far left. Second from the left is a Wimberly plate. Not only does the plate cost 5x the cost of the amazon plate but it has an obsolete legacy flash bracket attachment point that no photographer has used in the last 10 years. Save your money, don’t pay the extra $40-80 for name brand plates like RRS or Wimberly. RRS clamps are $70 each so save your money and buy the clamps I used for $13 for a pair with free shipping! There is absolutely no advantage to the more expensive plates. The only people that will tell you different are the ones trying to see you a brand name plate.

Newport lens tube lineup

Newport Corporation compatibility notes

The SM2 products from Thorlabs use an industry standard Ø2" Lens Tubes with 2.035"-40.0 threads. So at least some parts from Newport are compatible with Thorlabs SM2 parts, I’m not sure exactly how many are so check carefully before you buy. Newport parts are very high quality so its nice to have some alternative choices.

Newport lens tubes on the official Newport site: https://www.newport.com/f/lens-tube-multi-element-lens-holders