Nikkor Z 70-200 f/2.8 S + 2x TC + Ext. Tubes = "Best Butterfly Combo"

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RazorSharpWO Contributing Member • Posts: 830
Nikkor Z 70-200 f/2.8 S + 2x TC + Ext. Tubes = "Best Butterfly Combo"

I suppose I should begin by saying "Butterfly Photography" is what got me into digital photography, back in 2007.

During this journey, I branched-out into many other types of wildlife photography (birds, flowers, fungi, reptiles, spiders, you name it, I'll photograph it). However, I've always had a soft spot for photographing butterflies.

As such, I've also owned quite a few different "long" macro lenses along the way to facilitate this passion (Canon EF 180/3.5, Nikon 200/4, Sigma 180/2.8, Voigtländer 125/2.5 APO, etc., etc.) So I'm no stranger to the best, longest macro lenses.

All of the above lenses are quite capable. I consider them favorites, even. The trouble is, with wild butterflies, their limitation has always been reach. Yes, if you go outdoors when it's still cool, you can often creep-up to a butterfly still sleeping, where you can get some awesome frame-filled shots in early-morning natural light. Bravo!

But on a hot summer day, when butterflies are highly-active, you're most likely not to get close enough to get any detail. Here is why the brand-new Z-70-200/2.8 S + 2x TC + Kenko 16mm Ext. Tubes have made me sell every other macro lens I own:

  1. The lens itself is so sharp, wide-open, that it can take both a 2x TC and a 16mm Ext. Tube, and still rival dedicated macro lenses in image quality;
  2. I get .43x magnification, which is all I need for butterflies, beetles, etc.
  3. This combo gives me 400mm of reach, double the venerated Nikkor 200, and with either a Z7 II, or the Z6, I get handhold-ability to boot, virtually impossible with the elder 200mm Nikkor.
  4. The AF accuracy + IBIS of the Z cameras are unmatched.

So here are some recent samples taken the last few weeks. Keep in mind, these are live, wild, butterflies (and a few others) — often times blowing in the wind — that the Z-70-200/2.8 S + 2x TC + Kenko 16mm Ext. Tubes was able to freeze, all while being handheld. Since using this combo, all of my premier macro lenses have been collecting dust:

Mexican Yellow, and friend (Eurema mexicana)

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)

Texas Crescent (Anthanassa texana)

Empress Leilia (Asterocampa leilia)

Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton)

Arizona Powdered Skipper (Systasea zampa)

Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole)

Long Yellow Soldier Beetle (Chauliognathus misellus)

Plains Lubber Grasshopper (Brachystola magna)

Humphrey's Grasshopper (Barytettix humphreysii)

Desert Hairy Scorpion (Hadrurus arizonensis), 51-Image Stack

Sorry for so many images, but there's a lot of cool stuff out here in Arizona
An interesting fact about Arizona, is just in my County alone (Pima County), we have 230 species of butterfly. In the entire state where I came from, California, we only had 270 species, from Mexico to Oregon. In the entire state of Florida, where I was before that, there were only 204 species. There's more than that and my little county. Arizona also has the highest reptile density and bird density in the country.

Anyway, and the point of all this is how wonderful, and powerful, the Z 70-200/2.8 lens is, because of how incredibly sharp it is, wide-open, again to the extent you can put a 2x TC on it, plus an Ext. Tube, and it will double the reach of the Micro-Nikkor 200, and quadruple the reach of any 100 macro ... sacrificing nothing in image quality ... while giving you better AF + the benefit of IBIS from either Z7 II or Z6.

Well, that's my report, and thanks for reading.

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 RazorSharpWO's gear list:RazorSharpWO's gear list
Nikon D500 Nikon D5 Nikon Z7 Nikon Z6 Nikon Z7 II +19 more
Nikon Z6 Nikon Z7 II
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