Nikon 105 for butterfly collection

Started Apr 2, 2014 | Questions thread
dave gaines
dave gaines Veteran Member • Posts: 9,186
butterfly collection & R1C1 macro twin flash

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.

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's gear list:dave gaines's gear list
Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom Olympus E-330 Nikon D800E Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED +10 more
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