Nikon 105 for butterfly collection

Started 5 months ago | Questions
ormdig
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to Antal I Kozma, 5 months ago

Hi Antal, you said "If you light evenly you'll lose detail in the texture of your subject. Which in case of photographing butterflies is not a good thing. The fine structure of wing pattern and hair on the torso does not come through well. So balance two lights , let's say left and right, in a ratio so that one will be the dominant side light for texture while the other will assure that no distracting shadow will form on the less lit side."

Can you expound a little bit on the balancing "in a ratio" of the two lights? Do you do this in intensity, angle (height) or what?

I understand the importance of sidelight for texture and would like to experiment with your suggestions offered here but don't understand the idea behind the "ratio" part and would like to have some idea of what I am doing and why. Thank you,

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Pete

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Peter Damroth
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to rankamaterur, 5 months ago

rankamaterur wrote:

Good info from StillLearning.

The 105 will be fine. I agree with StillLearning w.r.t. aperture choices. I would add that the LED light panel would probably be fine, but if it were me, I'd use strobes, for more control and virtually unlimited light.

Jim

I maybe concerned that a ring light used close up will illuminate the closest area to the lens/light  more  than the farthest point. I would use a flash off camera.

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StillLearning
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Re: Flash for butterfly collection & reflections on glass
In reply to TQGroup, 5 months ago

TQGroup wrote:

Thanks once again, Dave! I've been doing a bit more research and notice that Nikon have a "R1" kit that looks neat and compact. Have you, or anyone else had experience with this animal? Is it "butterfly friendly"?

I used the R1C1 closeup set back when they first released them.  It does okay but you need to adjust the output for what you want.  It also can be cumbersome setting it up and though it does minimize shadows because of the SB-R200 light positions.  I used only 2 but it will support upto 4.

Example using it.

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Photofunster
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Re: Flash for butterfly collection & reflections on glass
In reply to StillLearning, 5 months ago

That's a beauty Gary.

The defence mechanism, the red on the tail, looks like big eyes behind deadly horns...

Chas

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StillLearning
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Re: Flash for butterfly collection & reflections on glass
In reply to Photofunster, 5 months ago

Thank you.  Taken 7 years ago.  The only time I was able to get a Zebra Swallowtail.  Since it is a north american butterfly the atrium I visit doesn't order any. They go for the asian, central american and south american ones.

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dave gaines
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butterfly collection & R1C1 macro twin flash
In reply to TQGroup, 5 months ago

TQGroup wrote:

Thanks once again, Dave! I've been doing a bit more research and notice that Nikon have a "R1" kit that looks neat and compact. Have you, or anyone else had experience with this animal? Is it "butterfly friendly"?

Yes, I've been using the R1C1 for a few weeks now to shoot wildflowers and the bugs that live on them. See one example below.

It works quite well for walking in the woods on a trail and capturing images. It has a lot of pieces to coordinate in the field but would be very easy in a room with a table. I use a throw tarp when I'm out on the trail to place everything on while I assemble it.

The Nikon SB-R200 flash units offer plenty of light at close range. They're small and light compared to any Nikon flash like the SB-910 so travelling with them may be easier. They use a CR-123A Lithium-ion battery, which is not common and is expensive. I use rechargeable batteries which reduces the cost and saves on waste.

You said you have two SB-910 flash units. These could be used with diffusers and at 1/64 to 1/128 power, adjusting flash to subject distance as needed. I would suggest taking the plastic flash bases that fit these flash units to use for placement of the flash. More on that below.

I typically lower the SB-R200 output to 1/8 or 1/16 of full power at f/16 or f/22. That's with the flash within 6 inches of the subject. I'm using the earlier Nikkor micro 105 mm f/2.8D lens which accepts the thread adapter ring on the outer lens barrel, 2 or 3 inches behind the front of the lens when focused at macro settings. The 105 mm  f/2.8 G lens only has threads at the front of the lens, placing the flash attachment ring farther forward.

The flash attachment ring that the SB-R200 flash units clip onto limits where you can place the flash. It holds them near the front of the lens in positions very close to your subject. This may or may not work for your specimen display. You can easily not use the ring but instead use the plastic flash bases that come wth the R1C1 kit to position the flash. The bases are unique, made to fit the rounded, clip-on SB-R200 units. Place the bases on a stack of books, a small stool, a stand, an art easil, a book stand, etc, on the table and tape the bases onto whatever you use at the right height and position. That way you could position them at a 45 degree angle to your subject at the right distance, independent of where the lens may be. Exposure is based on flash to subject distance, so as the lens moves in or out to adapt to the size of the butterfly, the exposure settings remain fixed.

I've been looking at the Really Right Stuff flash ring and macro flash arms in order to place the SB-R200 flash farther away from the lens, off to one side or even behind the subject. They look great for the application but cost about $810 and weigh nearly 2 pounds when assembled. For your needs, I think the plastic flash bases are much easier to use.

The R1C1 kit also comes with small diffusers that could be useful for your work. They clip on over the gel filter holders, with or without gels in place.

Here's a detailed description of how I'm using the R1C1 macro twin flash, as well as the Olympus ring flash I was using last year. http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53362849

I've captured small spiders, gnats, ants, ants farming aphids on thistle plants and a spider capturing a fly on a wildflower. I think the following example illustrates why you might want to check DOF for your butterfly subjects in order to find the right f-stop. I challenge anyone to see diffraction at f/22 in this photo, but OOF due to shallow DOF is obvious where it occurs. This one is with the D800e, 105 mm f/2.8D at ISO 100, f/22, 1/160 sec from as close as I could focus. On a monopod.

The Kiss of Death

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dave gaines
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Manual flash control of output ratio for dual flash
In reply to ormdig, 5 months ago

I don't mean to answer for Antal, but I can answer the question.

The ratio of output applies to using two or more flash units. With any Nikon flash unit you can control fllash output in TTL mode as a ratio of full power. Using the Command mode in the menu of the D800 or using the SR-800 Command Unit you set dual flash on two or 3 channels with the ratio of output between the two units.

You can also set any flash unit in manual flash control mode and control flash for each unit as full power (1/1) or portions of that, from 1/2 to 1/128 power, in 6 steps. You can use the Command Unit with any Nikon flash. You can use radio transmitters or a direct wire sync and control any flash manually.

For more detail see my post above about the Nikon R1C1 twin macro flash kit. For more info on controlling the flash output, see the link I embedded in that same post.

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labalaba
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to TQGroup, 5 months ago

Here are some amateur shots of set butterflies for comparison.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/neb31/sets/72157615257132581/

These were shot with a 50mm lens and Kodachrome, using a ringflash (Sunpak). Times have moved on, obviously, but you may learn something about shadow management from these shots.

I do not recall the aperture used now, but I suspect it was f8 or f11. I don't see why you should need to stop down to f22 at the magnifications you will be using.

When using the 105VR on full frame (D700) in the field, I have been happy with f16 but I am not convinced of the image quality at smaller apertures. I have a 55/2.8 Ais that I think is OK at f22 but not beyond. The 200mm AF-D F4 works well stopped down but this focal length is not be suitable for your needs. If you can get a 70-180 micronikkor, I would imagine that would be incredibly useful for this job. If you have a subset of specimens that are not flat then I might be tempted to stack 2-3 f8 shots in preference.

Lighting will have an important effect on the outcome. May I suggest that you involve an end user in your assessment of output since you may not be sensitive to which information needs to be preserved? If you have access to a good library, try comparing The Butterflies of West Africa by Torben Larsen (ISBN-13: 978-8788757439) with Les Papillons du Gabon by Gael Vande Weghe (ISBN-13: 9780982026342). The former is a fantastic book, with only average figures. Vande Weghe's images are much better. Try comparing images of the same butterfly species from the two books.

May I also suggest you contact someone with more experience specifically in this area since I have not seen many relevant responses here. You could contact Gael Vande Weghe, he is easy to find online. The Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren (Belgium) has digitized its type specimen collection (http://www.africamuseum.be/collections/browsecollections/naturalsciences/biology/lepidoptera/browse), perhaps you can seek advice there, and also contact any major museum where you may have access. The NSG Group on flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nsg_db/with/10557332274/) has a lot of images posted, clearly photographed with different methodologies and success, try there.

Take a little time at the beginning to be sure you and everyone else is happy with the output. Might save time in the long run.

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labalaba
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to labalaba, 5 months ago

one more thought. Try a simple diffuser with your onboard flash eg this $10 item. http://www.dmkfoto.com/Diffuser_for_on_camera_flash_speedlight_p/5870.htm.  If using the 105VR, you may need to remove the hood.  Try it before you dismiss the idea.

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labalaba
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to labalaba, 5 months ago

and make sure nothing on your rig can fall onto the specimens

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axcentphoto
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to labalaba, 5 months ago

In my gallery, I have a great shot of a Monarch on a cactus flower. My first attempt at Macro. My problem was not lighting but DOF. I need to order Helicon and get into focus stacking. Good luck with your 'little' project. LOL...Brent

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dave gaines
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Nikon 60 mm micro for more DOF
In reply to labalaba, 5 months ago

labalaba wrote:

Here are some amateur shots of set butterflies for comparison.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/neb31/sets/72157615257132581/

These were shot with a 50mm lens and Kodachrome, using a ringflash (Sunpak). Times have moved on, obviously, but you may learn something about shadow management from these shots.

I do not recall the aperture used now, but I suspect it was f8 or f11. I don't see why you should need to stop down to f22 at the magnifications you will be using.

When using the 105VR on full frame (D700) in the field, I have been happy with f16 ...

Hi Nick,

Your examples are photos of full pages of 16 or more butterflies in one view. For that large of an image size and the distance these were shot from, f/8 would have more than adequate DOF. Images of individual butterflies shot a few inches away from the lens will have very short DOF.

Your old-school film example points out one other possibility for getting more DOF. That is to use the Nikon 60 mm f/2.8 micro lens (either D or G lens) instead of the 105 mm micro. The angle of view will be different but this shouldn't matter for a butterfly on a white mat board with no background detail.

Here's a link anyone can use to check relative DOF for any lens on any camera at any distance. The challenge to using this On-Line DOF Calculator for comparing DOF for a 60 mm micro lens to the 105 mm micro lens will be in knowing the focus distances required to fill a frame with the same subject size. Maybe by using the minimum focus distances given in the specs for each lens with the same 1:1 magnification as a comparison, anyone could see the difference in DOF.

http://www.dofmaster.com

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labalaba
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Re: Nikon 60 mm micro for more DOF
In reply to dave gaines, 5 months ago

Hi Nick,

Your examples are photos of full pages of 16 or more butterflies in one view. For that large of an image size and the distance these were shot from, f/8 would have more than adequate DOF.

No, there are many photographs of single butterflies in the gallery.

Also, I think DOF will be similar regardless of focal lengths for the same field of view, as the DOF calculator will show.

But in any case I do not think DOF will be limiting.

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TQGroup
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to labalaba, 5 months ago

Thank you for your thoughtful comments and the time you have taken to communicate them. Fortunately, I have some time before I start this work in July and so I will practice and experiment before I go overseas. I already own a 105 VR and so that will be the lens I use on a newly re-shuttered D600 (with a D7100 as an emergency back-up).

I have already contacted the museum in Sydney and I will have discussions with a curator to fully understand what "perfect" could look like... not that I am promising "perfect" results...:-)

Given the weight restrictions traveling "cattle class", I will experiment with an easily portable "rig" that does not weight too much but is very stable and secure. Does anyone have experience with Nikon's R1 macro flash setup?

Finally, throughput speed is very important; at one butterfly a minute, the task will take just 21 eight hour days...:-|

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TQGroup
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to Peter Damroth, 5 months ago

Good point Peter, so am I. Following a particularly bad dose of GAS, I own 6 flashguns with matching PW bits and pieces, stands, light modifiers, etc. Using this kit, the rig is too big and so I'm looking into Nikon's R1 macro lighting system for this task. Thanks for the tip!

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TQGroup
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Re: Flash for butterfly collection & reflections on glass
In reply to StillLearning, 5 months ago

That is a nice result! In your experience, how many flashes do you get from a set of those pesky "button batteries"?

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labalaba
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Re: Nikon 105 for butterfly collection
In reply to TQGroup, 5 months ago

TQGroup wrote:

Thank you for your thoughtful comments and the time you have taken to communicate them. Fortunately, I have some time before I start this work in July and so I will practice and experiment before I go overseas. I already own a 105 VR and so that will be the lens I use on a newly re-shuttered D600 (with a D7100 as an emergency back-up).

I have already contacted the museum in Sydney and I will have discussions with a curator to fully understand what "perfect" could look like... not that I am promising "perfect" results...:-)

Given the weight restrictions traveling "cattle class", I will experiment with an easily portable "rig" that does not weight too much but is very stable and secure. Does anyone have experience with Nikon's R1 macro flash setup?

Finally, throughput speed is very important; at one butterfly a minute, the task will take just 21 eight hour days...:-|

good luck

presumably you'll have assistance, to move the butterflies around for you, and for conversation to remain sane (10,000 clicks is a lot).

If it is any consolation, once you've finished someone else will have to copy the data information for each specimen onto your image files.  That is going to take a lot longer.  I wouldn't mention this though, or they'll suggest you photograph the data labels at the same time as the specimens.

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StillLearning
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Re: Flash for butterfly collection & reflections on glass
In reply to TQGroup, 5 months ago

TQGroup wrote:

That is a nice result! In your experience, how many flashes do you get from a set of those pesky "button batteries"?

Actually they aren't button batteries. CR123A and costly.

I think I was running at 1/8 power. I estimate between 500 to 700 shots using 2 SB-R200 flashes. But don't quote me. I tried the rechargeables and would get about 200 to 250 per charge. I stopped using them because I noticed voltage on fully charged one was 4.5 V. I was concerned I might wear out the flash before it's time. That was 6 years ago. They may have improved them since then. But I had switched to using a macro flash bracket with my SB-800 and a gary fong cloudy diffusor. I didn't like it for portraits but it was great for macro photography.

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TQGroup
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Re: butterfly collection & R1C1 macro twin flash
In reply to dave gaines, 5 months ago

Thank you Dave for all the invaluable information, particularly on the RC1/C1! I will definitely fully investigate this option as I will be able to work from a table.

One of my concerns is being able to "nail" the shot in the camera! Can you image going through 10,000 shots and doing a PP on each... it would be enough to "P" you right off!!:-)

I am an opportunistic macro photographer... so while hanging up the washing one morning; I know, I've already been told I'm an "old woman" before, I noticed this creature having breakfast on the clothesline. It is an Insect Assassin or Bee Eater feasting on an unknown fly.

The only possible shot was directly into the sun on a uniformly cloudy morning, and as speed was obviously of the essence, I put a " GF light sphere" on the SB910 to diffuse the light and hand held the D600 + 105 VR at F11, ISO 560 and shot i-TTL at 1/750 with spot metering and manual focus, VR on:

6274 crop sml D600 + 105 VR + SB910 + GF lightsphere F11 1/750 ISO 560 spot, manual focus, VR on HH SOOC- no PP 100% crop reduced size

Cheers Andrew

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TQGroup
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Re: Flash for butterfly collection & reflections on glass
In reply to StillLearning, 5 months ago

Beautiful shot! While you were kindly posting, I also put a photo up. Amazing; we both have discovered that the cloudy lightsphere works brilliantly for close up photography! But hush, don't tell anyone because we will give away our competitive advantage...:-D Thanks once again for all the advice. Cheers Andrew

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