Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)

Started Jan 25, 2017 | Questions
DFnTX New Member • Posts: 1
Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)

Does anyone here shoot bugs, specifically dragonflies or butterflies, with an Olympus OMD camera?  What is your set-up?

I have been shooting bugs with a LUMIX DMC FZ 1000 and thought I'd upgrade to a light camera with interchangeable lenses so decided on a MFT - Olympus OMD EM5 mk Ii.  I just got it last week and haven't tried it on bugs yet (even in Central TX there are not many bugs around right now). I can't really afford a pro lens at this point and am concerned that the M.Zuiko 75-300 f/4.8-6.7 lens a. won't produce sharp pictures and b. won't perform unless it is bright outside.

 DFnTX's gear list:DFnTX's gear list
Panasonic FZ1000 Olympus E-M5 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm 1:4.8-6.7 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 EZ
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JHaagsma Senior Member • Posts: 1,385
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)
1

last holiday, I made lots of pictures of dragonflies with my E-M1, 50-200SWD @200mm +1.4xTC. Aperture (including correction for TC, wide open is f/4.9) was mostly 6.3 or 7.1. Pictures turn out perfectly sharp, suitable for printing on A2 paper. This was in sunny  weather, and I had to set ISO at 800 to get short enough shutter speeds. Minimum focus distance of  the 50-200 is 1m20 so with TC a dragonfly will fill the frame. I used MF most of the time.

With the m.Zuiko you will often be shooting wide open, and @300 wide open is the weakest point of the lens. Stopping down to f/8 will help a bit (go any further and you will lose IQ due to diffraction), but that will mean upping the ISO. Not a real problem with the latest sensors. Personally I don't have a problem with a bit of (luminance) noise.

In short: it's certainly possible to shoot bugs with the 75-300, but for best results start saving for a pro lens (or maybe the Panasonic 100-300 is better @300, I don't know).

 JHaagsma's gear list:JHaagsma's gear list
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Walt_A Senior Member • Posts: 2,113
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)
2

A lot of the wildlife I like to capture images of are butterflies and dragonflies. I've used the panasonic G2 and GF2 and now use the olympus E-PM2 and OMD-10 (mainly this one these days). I've used a variety of lenses to do this, Tamron 70-300 LD Di F4-5.6 in pentax K mount, Pentax FA*300 F4.5 and Pentax extension tubes, Pentax FA100 3.5 macro including raynox DCR-150/250, Olympus 75-300 II with and without M43 extension tubes and lastly the Olympus 60mm macro. At times I need the extra reach that a telephoto lens and extension tube gives, the 75-300 II fits this fine, it's not as sharp as the 60mm macro and this can be seen side by side, but until I had the 60mm it's image quality was more than acceptable. The extension tubes were a very cheap and a usable solution.

One of the beauties of these insects is that they tend to be around in summer and good light so the lens speed is less of an issue.

Here's a example image with the 75-300 II with extension tubes shot at the weaker 300 end wide open at F6.7.

There are more examples in the butterflies and dragonflies albums in my flick link below but a lot of them were taken with different setups.

CrisPhoto
CrisPhoto Senior Member • Posts: 1,749
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)
2

DFnTX wrote:

Does anyone here shoot bugs, specifically dragonflies or butterflies, with an Olympus OMD camera? What is your set-up?

I have been shooting bugs with a LUMIX DMC FZ 1000 and thought I'd upgrade to a light camera with interchangeable lenses so decided on a MFT - Olympus OMD EM5 mk Ii. I just got it last week and haven't tried it on bugs yet (even in Central TX there are not many bugs around right now). I can't really afford a pro lens at this point and am concerned that the M.Zuiko 75-300 f/4.8-6.7 lens a. won't produce sharp pictures and b. won't perform unless it is bright outside.

The 75-300 is not the worst lens for macro.

  • First, the missing aperture is no issue with macro because you will close the aperture anyhow (for better DOF).
  • Second, you can invest 50$ and buy a +3 diopter achromat ("Marumi +3 achromatic close up lens" or "Raynox dcr 150 snap on lens"). With this close up lens, the working distance is reduced to 300mm (front element to bug). The IQ is very soft at 300mm focal length and 1:1.5 magnification.
    BUT: If you stay below 200mm focal length, you get good image quality with a magnification of 1:2, which is around 35mm FOV.
  • Third: As you use the lens between 100 and 200mm and f8 or f11, you will be using the lens near it's optical sweet spot. The pro lenses won't look much better at f11. Only a dedicated macro lens would give a significant IQ or magnification boost. (or a somewhat exotic setup combining a good prime with close-up lens and macro tubes)

I wrote a sum-up of my personal experiences with some tele and macro lenses here:

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3522091

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Walt_A Senior Member • Posts: 2,113
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)
1

Hi, I found one at the 75mm end of the 75-300 II again with extension tubes, just to give you an example at both ends.

oeoek Contributing Member • Posts: 532
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)

I am not really a macro shooter, but I do keep a +3D achromat in my photo bag for occasional close ups. Never a flash, and I do not worry about noise or diffraction too much; my goal is 12x16 inch (30x40 cm) prints, and they look a lot better than 100% on screen.

E-M5 with 75-300 mm with Marumi +3 macro filter (a compound achromat macro filter), 3 pics merged in photoshop for more dof

E-M5 with 75-300, 2 pics merged in photoshop for more dof

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Donald B
Donald B Forum Pro • Posts: 14,237
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)

what was the working distance on that shot ?

cheers don

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Donald B
Donald B Forum Pro • Posts: 14,237
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)
1

shot this yester day on my new em5mk11 and the oly 14 150 lens and a canon 500d closeup filter, 300mm working distance.

cheers don

download it for a better view.

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Olympus EM5, EM5mk2 my toys.
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past toys. k100d, k10d,k7,fz5,fz150,500uz,canon G9.

Walt_A Senior Member • Posts: 2,113
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)

Donald B wrote:

what was the working distance on that shot ?

Just recreated it at min focus with the 26mm extension at 75 on a life size skipper image  = 7 inches from front element of the lens.

Donald B
Donald B Forum Pro • Posts: 14,237
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)

Walt_A wrote:

Donald B wrote:

what was the working distance on that shot ?

Just recreated it at min focus with the 26mm extension at 75 on a life size skipper image = 7 inches from front element of the lens.

thanks for that , I might have to get some of those . ive only been using the canon 500d filters. at 150mm

cheers don

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Olympus EM5, EM5mk2 my toys.
http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/9412035244
past toys. k100d, k10d,k7,fz5,fz150,500uz,canon G9.

Walt_A Senior Member • Posts: 2,113
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)
2

I have a sigma achromat +1.6 diopter (I believe the 500D is a bit more powerful at +2 diopter) and still like using that in some circumstances. I think these quality diopters are really useful and cause very little image degradation perhaps even with better out of focus rendition than the lens+extension tubes.

(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 2,889
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)

Look for an Olympus 12-50mm on sale or used.  A very respectable near-macro capability.

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daddyo Forum Pro • Posts: 12,670
The 75-300mm works very well.
8

I've been happy with results from my 75-300mm in the past. Now I have the Pany 100-400mm and tend to use that lens, but the 75-300mm is no slouch. These are extreme close ups, but for true macro you might consider the 12-50mm as someone else mentioned. Here are just a few examples -- the last one is from the 12-50mm:

This shot with the 12-50mm 'Macro' Mode

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Brian Wadie
Brian Wadie Veteran Member • Posts: 9,849
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)

I've shot them with the 40-15 (kit and pro) Panasonic 35-100 f2.8, Olympus 50-200 ED (very useful and effective) and Panasonic 100-400, excellent

I've also used the canon EF 70-300 LIS via the metabones, another excellent solution

Longer is easier for flight shots where as macro is obviously the tool for real macro / highly detailed work

Many images with most of these in my flikr site

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 Brian Wadie's gear list:Brian Wadie's gear list
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Gary from Seattle Veteran Member • Posts: 3,987
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)

As a couple of others have said the 75-300 is a very good lens, especially for the money. At the 300 end, the photographer and conditions will have as much to do with image quality as the lens itself. The following image gives you a good example of the sharpness of this lens at 221mm handheld. Note the small trees on the skyline for detail. This is OOC jpeg. I have a few very good images at 300mm handheld.

Although not a huge fan of bugs, I enjoy shooting butterflies, dragonflies, and bees when the opportunity arises in the mountains or deserts. In most cases you won't be able to get close to these insects - closer than 4 to 6'. So, having a focal length of up to 300mm is advantageous. (There are, of course exceptions. I've shot a swallowtail from 2', a Silvery Blue from 2', and Bombus sitchensis from about 1' - but usually you can't get that close).

As to aperture, most of my images are F5.6 to F11. DOF is the greatest limitation so it would be rare to want to go wider than F5.6. Also, although many of my mountain images are in the range of F6.3 to 7.1 on sunny or bright, cloudy days; it isn't often from my experience that you would see any of the above insects on cloudy, cool or rainy days. They aren't out. So, the aperture of the 75-300 is not so much of an issue.

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Olympus E-M1 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm 1:4.8-6.7 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm F2.8 Macro Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm F2.8 OIS Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro +1 more
JeanPierre Martel Veteran Member • Posts: 3,104
M.Zuiko 40-150mm + MC-14

DFnTX wrote:

Does anyone here shoot bugs, specifically dragonflies or butterflies, with an Olympus OMD camera? What is your set-up?

For years, my favourite lens to take pictures of butterflies was the M.Zuiko 60mm F/2,8.

Last year, I've changed to the M.Zuiko 40-150mm + the MC-14 teleconverter.

At equivalent distance (60cm for the 60mm lens and 210cm for a 210mm focal length), the DoF is the same at F/5,6. Essentially, the difference is in the bokeh.

The M.Zuiko 60mm give a nice creamy bokeh; with the M.Zuiko 40-150mm + MC-14, the bokeh is a wonderful buttery bokeh.

Some examples of pictures taken with the M.Zuiko 40-150mm + MC-14 (skip the French Text):
http://jpmartel.quebec/2016/04/12/m-zuiko-40-150-mm-mc-14/

 JeanPierre Martel's gear list:JeanPierre Martel's gear list
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third son
third son Senior Member • Posts: 2,533
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)
4

Yes

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-Paul

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Old Listener
Old Listener Senior Member • Posts: 2,027
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)

DFnTX wrote:

Does anyone here shoot bugs, specifically dragonflies or butterflies, with an Olympus OMD camera? What is your set-up?

I have been shooting bugs with a LUMIX DMC FZ 1000 and thought I'd upgrade to a light camera with interchangeable lenses so decided on a MFT - Olympus OMD EM5 mk Ii. I just got it last week and haven't tried it on bugs yet (even in Central TX there are not many bugs around right now). I can't really afford a pro lens at this point and am concerned that the M.Zuiko 75-300 f/4.8-6.7 lens a. won't produce sharp pictures and b. won't perform unless it is bright outside.

Your FZ1000 is quite a good tool for stalking butterflies and dragonflies.  Some examples

butterfly in our front yard

With your m43 camera and a 75-300 lens, you

- more reach.  600mm eq. focal length as opposed to 400mm.  Sometimes you need that extra reach.

- better isolation of subject from background.

- maybe a bit lighter weight but not that much.

- better performance at low light levels.  Iso 3200 and even 6400 are usable where you might stop at iso 1600 with the FZ1000.  This might matter if you are out in the early morning when butterflies are cold and inert.  I haven't found late afternoon when light levels are very low to be productive for butterflies and dragonflies.

I've used a 100-300 zoom on Panasonic G6 and G7 bodies and found that to be a good tool too.  In this gallery, I was using a 100-300 zoom and Lesley was using a 600mm macro lens.  Hard for her to get close enough before the very active butterflies moved on.

butterflies in Northern Territory, Australia

-
some of our photos
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bill_lesley_photos/
http://naturelover.smugmug.com/

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Old Listener
Old Listener Senior Member • Posts: 2,027
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)

Very pleasing pictures, Paul.  The last two are my favorites.

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third son
third son Senior Member • Posts: 2,533
Re: Shooting bugs with a telephoto lens (not macro)

Thanks Bill...

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-Paul

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