digest 648

David Antony Millard dmillard at mail.utexas.edu
Sun Feb 28 18:50:57 EST 1999

> Subject: Re: Suggestions for a camera for taking butterfly photo's
> Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 23:49:31 -0800 (PST)
> From: JayAndEstherC at webtv.net (Esther Cornelius)
> To: leps-l at lists.yale.edu
> Mark: A SLR with tube extenders, ring flash, zoom lens, & monopod stand.
> The ring flash gives pretty luminous shots without any specific shadow.
> You can make plenty of time for closeups if you catch them & put their
> envelope in a cooler for 1/2 hr. then place them somewhere picturesque &
> shoot them while they wake up.
> Bill
> Dear Mark,

As you can see, methods for butterfly photography tend to be highly
personal.  One way you can avoid excessive manipulation and posing is by
getting a longer focal length lens.  I use a 105mm macro lens with a
short extension tube for most of my butterfly shots, but also use a 200
mm with butterflies that are more skittish.  Nikon and Canon both made
manual 200 mm macro lenses (frequently available used), and Nikon
currently offers an AF 200 mm macro that goes to life size (very
expensive).  A less costly alternative is provided by either of the
Sigma 180 mm macro lenses, in f 2.8 and f5.6.  This latter lens is very
compact, inexpensive, and optically superb.  Unfortunately, it was
discontinued last year, but you may be able to find one with a little
effort.  One of the beauties of these longer focal length macro lenses
is that they provide high resolution images at greater magnifications
with the use of two-element closeup lenses (made by Canon, Nikon, and
other manufacturers).  I almost always use flash myself, although I
personally prefer the directional lighting of a flash on a bracket as
opposed to the sometimes flat axial lighting of a ringflash.  I also
generally use 100 ASA film (Elite or Sensia) rather than the slower
Kodachrome or Velvia, because I like some of the ambient light in the
background.  One of my butterfly photos on Elite 100 was used as a
magazine cover, and the grain was imperceptible.  Hope I haven't been
too long-winded.  Good luck with your project.

David Millard
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