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Camera and accessories selection for macro photography


This post is about the camera and lens selection, particularly for shooting butterflies and flowers.

Lens Selection (For SLR):

This is really dance on the tight rope.

1. A macro lens at least 90 mm, with 1:1 reproduction. Lenses from 90 mm to 105 mm are handy lenses with descent minimum focus distance and focal length. 180 mm lens are bulky, costly however produces good bokeh. A 300 mm lens with VR will also serve fantastic overall. As it do not create 1:1 image, may face little problem with very small ones. This focal length will give nice bokeh and can be used with 2X TC for birding if fast enough.


2. VR/OS/IS is must. Image stabilization or Vibration Reduction technology increases the possibility of sharp images. VR I is sufficient. This lenses comes with more money obviously.

3. Internal focusing (IF) allows the focusing without changing the length of the lens barrel.



Camera selection:
 Many asks which one is better, Canon or Nikon? I say both are good, depending what kind of use u wish. Nikon has great low light capture probabilities. Canon can shoot good video. Canon 1D is famous in Hollywood for supportive shoots. For butterflying any of them will do. Here is the list of characteristics a camera should have to shoot macro photos.
1. Raw shooting ability.
2. Manual, shutter priority and aperture priority mode.

If SLR, then I would prefer to have at least a semi-pro body (Nikon D90/D7000 or Canon 60D/ 7d). Major advantages with this category is the built in motor.

If not a SLR then,
1. Zoom around 12x to 18X is sufficient.
2. 12 MP is sufficient.
In this category I have seen pretty good results with Panasonic Lumix FZ series. 

Accessories selection:
1.  Battery: Cameras like D7000 can deliver upto 1000 snaps without flash/external flash. So for a short trip I dont see necessity of carrying extra battery. Even same would be the case with canon 60D or 7D. However, batteries of point and shoot camera exhausts after about 250 snaps. In that case one may need extra one or in some case two batteries per day. Better to go for original batteries. In case of extensive use of the batteries, non-branded batteries can give good returns on money invested. 

2. Flash: External flash is indeed necessary. It reveals true colors, tinges and hues on the butterfly body. Built-in flash is not sufficient for this. I have not yet used ring flash or R1-C1. But from the results people are posting, they seems to add more drama and story to the image as compared to external flash. Obviously a charger and rechargeable cells for external flash. Duracell batteries seems to last ling than most other n the category. Flash price ranges from 5000 to 30000 RS or more. Branded ones are advisable as they provide i-TTL operation.

3. Tripod: Tripod wont be that useful in the field shooting last stage butterfly. It is useful when shooting early stages  like egg, larva. Buy a strong tripod with ball head. Cost may be from 8000 to 20000 Rs and more. Cheap tripods without ball head are difficult for operation, doesent take gear weight, shakes even with breeze. To remind, wind is the worst enemy for macro photography.

4. Storage: as I said Raw shooting is better. To do this, one needs more storage. Fast cards with data transfer rates above 30 mbps or more would be helpful. Cards in "Extreme" category, has such writing speeds. Also they have lots of protective feature against shocks, X-ray, water etc. Better to invest in them once. Also dont use card more than 8GB (optimistic value, most will suggest 4Gb some 2GB even). This slows down the writing process. 

5. Extension tubes: Will serve excellent if the object is static. One can be very near to the object and get very good magnification. Absence of any glass material, so doesn't cause any optical loss. Comes for about 8000 Rs. Kenko is good brand. My anticipation is, when used with lens like 50mm f1.4, can give sharpest results, competing even a macro lens. The disadvantage is the operation. Many times time needs manual focusing. Which makes it difficult for shooting moving objects. 

6. Tele-converter: Its a lens, with ability to magnify picture by 1.4X, 1.7X, 2X times. Also modifies the magnification in the same ration i.e. 1:2 lens will be 1:1 with 2X TC. Costs around 10,000 Rs. As it has glass elements, optical quality reduces. Useful with fast lens (aperture at-least 2.8 or so). Better to invest in some good lens than mounting this with other cheap lens. Not advisable.

7. Remote: Remote is not useful in field. It is useful when macro photography of butterfly is done with camera mounted on tripod eg. eclosion sequence, life cycle documentation. Remote (Ml-L3 for D7000 compatible with most Nikon cameras) is tiny and works on infra-red technique. Costs just around thousand rupees. 







2 comments:

  1. Wow, thanks for detailed information.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TY Dr. Rutuja. Please keep following the blog for more.

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