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Lens advice?

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Old Monday 2nd May 2011, 22:25   #1
Astrokev
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Lens advice?

Hi All

I've been imaging birds for a few years now, but insect photography is something I've only dabbled at from time to time.

I've recently been using my 420mm f5.6 Nikon prime (300 + 1.4 TC) which gives reasonable results, but I recognise that this isn't traditionally the best lens for the job. I've also got a 50mm Sigma macro, which is a great lens, but is a bit too short and I need to climb all over the subject to get close shots (usually spooking the subject in the process).

I'd be grateful for tips and guidance on what others use for butterflies and dragons'.

Any recommendations or tips on technique much appreciated.

A few examples taken with my 420mm set-up are on my blog (link below).

Regards
Kevin
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Old Tuesday 3rd May 2011, 15:37   #2
Phil Bishop
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Something in the 100mm range is probably the minimum focal length that should be considered. Most manufacturers make them and when stopped down all are pretty good.
The Nikon 105vr is handy as it's stabilised and will take converters though I have no experience of this lens myself. Many others use the longer Sigmas-the 150 seems to be preferred to the older 180. For more working distance, the Nikkor 200mm is one of the best lenses you can get, but it is getting on a bit now.
One other possibility is to put an extension tube on your 300mm (possibly with the converter) to reduce the focussing distance-a friend does this with his Pentax 300mm.
Best to use a tripod, which can be a bit awkward at times, though hand holding is possible provided you can keep a high enough shutter speed and maintain a good depth of field. A flash gun on an extender arm is pretty useful here, though the Nikon R1 or similar ring flash is probably better.
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Old Tuesday 3rd May 2011, 16:54   #3
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Theres the Sigma 150mm or the Tamron Di 90mm, both exceptional Macro lenses or you could get a superzoom bridge camera, Ive seen some cracking butterfly/dragonfly shots with the Panasonic Lumix FZ38. You would also need to be shooting on the bigger F-numbers to get all your subject In focus..

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Old Tuesday 3rd May 2011, 18:17   #4
SteveClifton
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astrokev View Post
Hi All

I've been imaging birds for a few years now, but insect photography is something I've only dabbled at from time to time.

I've recently been using my 420mm f5.6 Nikon prime (300 + 1.4 TC) which gives reasonable results, but I recognise that this isn't traditionally the best lens for the job. I've also got a 50mm Sigma macro, which is a great lens, but is a bit too short and I need to climb all over the subject to get close shots (usually spooking the subject in the process).

I'd be grateful for tips and guidance on what others use for butterflies and dragons'.

Any recommendations or tips on technique much appreciated.

A few examples taken with my 420mm set-up are on my blog (link below).

Regards
Kevin
I think that if your 300mm Nikon lens is the same one that this guy uses (link below) then you are in very good company. He uses either the bare lens or a combination of tubes to get most of these stunning shots. Many people believe that they need a dedicated macro lens for butterflies and dragons, which is often not true.

It depends on just how close you really want to get. A 300mm f4 or even the Canon 100-400mm zoom allows close enough working distance for even quite small butterflies (with a little cropping), and most medium/large dragonflies, even without an extension tube. Adding a tube allows you to get even closer.

Good focussing technique is likely to yield the best results (solid tripod/live view magnified to 5x or 10x/manual focus/self timer).

Do you really need a macro lens unless you want to shoot smaller insects such as the smallest damselflies, or just the compound eye of a dragonfly?

http://www.pbase.com/ronnie_14187/d1...he_blue_dasher

Last edited by SteveClifton : Tuesday 3rd May 2011 at 18:24.
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Old Tuesday 3rd May 2011, 20:40   #5
walwyn
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I handhold a Panasonic FZ30 + Raynox DCR250/150 normally without any flash, but will use flash if needs be. I've found that unless you've managed to superglue the insect in place a tripod is pretty much useless.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/overton...7600301903632/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/overton...048259/detail/
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Old Tuesday 3rd May 2011, 23:04   #6
Astrokev
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Thanks to all for the suggestions. Some good guidance which I need to digest and see which way to go. In the meantime, I'll persevere with my 300/420 set-up and keep on trying to improve my technique.

Kevin
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Old Tuesday 3rd May 2011, 23:09   #7
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[quote=Phil Bishop;2131309]Something in the 100mm range is probably the minimum focal length that should be considered. Most manufacturers make them and when stopped down all are pretty good.[quote]

Phil - just taken a look at your blog. Some great images there.

I also notice that you are/were interested in astronomy. I also share this interest, and was one of the founder members of the Bedford AS back in the 80's. I've also got an astronomy blog running if you're interested -


http://astrokevskies.blogspot.com
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Old Wednesday 4th May 2011, 08:06   #8
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[quote=Astrokev;2131747][quote=Phil Bishop;2131309]Something in the 100mm range is probably the minimum focal length that should be considered. Most manufacturers make them and when stopped down all are pretty good.
Quote:

Phil - just taken a look at your blog. Some great images there.

I also notice that you are/were interested in astronomy. I also share this interest, and was one of the founder members of the Bedford AS back in the 80's. I've also got an astronomy blog running if you're interested -


http://astrokevskies.blogspot.com
Thanks for the compliments.
Still attend the Letchworth AS meetings, but dont do a great deal myself-living in light polluted Stevenage directly under the main flight path to Luton Airport is not the best place for astronomy! Now that the Sun has switched on, I might get round to blowing the dust off my solar equipment and do a bit of imaging again.
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Old Wednesday 4th May 2011, 16:19   #9
Astrokev
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Thanks for the compliments.
Still attend the Letchworth AS meetings, but dont do a great deal myself-living in light polluted Stevenage directly under the main flight path to Luton Airport is not the best place for astronomy! Now that the Sun has switched on, I might get round to blowing the dust off my solar equipment and do a bit of imaging again.
Yeah, the dreaded light pollution. Good to here you might get back into it though. I've been doing a bit of solar imaging lately. I've not got any specific solar gear, but have been getting some satisfying images with just my DSLR and 420mm lens protected with Baader film. Takes a bit of post processing to drag out the details but some pleasing results.

Kevin
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