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Insects through the Macro Lens

Updated: May 6, 2023

Photographing Insects through the Macro Lens

Bugs have been on this planet for over 385 million years. Jump forward 60 million years and they started to fly. It may seem amazing that insects existed long before the dinosaurs, but the truly amazing thing is they haven't changed too much in all those years. A good example of this is the dragonfly. This image of a fossil of a dragonfly was dated over 145 million years old.

Insects make up over 80% of all wildlife and exist in every environment on every continent, even Antarctica.

If you wanted to take photos of wildlife, you will mostly be a good distance from your subjects and would require a Telephoto lens. When photographing insects, the opposite is required; the best lens for this would be a macro lens.

  • Nikon AF-S DX Micro 85mm F/2.5G ED Lens

  • Nikon Z MC 105mm F/2.8 VR S Macro Lens

  • Sigman 105mm F/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens

  • Sony FE 90mm F/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens

  • Tokina ATX-I 100mm F/2.8 FF Macro Lens

  • Venus Optics Laowa 100mm F/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO Lens

Best settings for taking pictures of insects with your Macro lens

  • F/5.6 - F/8

  • 1/125+

  • ISO 200 - 1600

  • Focus Peaking (If your camera has this feature, it helps when manually focusing)

  • Auto White Balance

As for the focus, I will leave that up to you, many say "always use manual focus", but little bugs in the heat of the day, tend to move much faster. So, autofocus would be a better choice. The lens I love to use is the Sony FE 90mm lens, the focus ring is also a clutch that you can engage to either do manual or auto focus easily.

The lighting is the most important factor in taking photos of little tiny bugs. You cant always rely on a bright sunny day, so you will need a good source of light. With proper lighting, you can increase the F-stop to have more of your subject in focus and reduce the ISO to eliminate noise. Not to mention the added light will bring out more details and colors in your subjects.

  • Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight Kit

  • Sony HVL-F46RM Wireless Radio Flash

  • Godox V1 Flash

Having a good flash with a fast refresh rate is only the first step in lighting. To complete the lighting set up you will need a good diffuser designed for macro photography. One such item is the AK Diffuser, which includes a hood, a lower attachment that helps boubouncee light undunderneathur subject, and an LED light to assist with focusing. Having a diffuser with a hood has proven to add one stop of light.

All this great info doesn't just apply to insects it also works for flowers.

The photographs contained in this website may not be reproduced without the express consent of Shutter Bison.

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