I recently visited the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory and spent a couple of hours capturing butterfly images using one of my Nikon 1 J5s, a 1 Nikon 30-110mm zoom lens, and a set of MOVO extension tubes.
As folks who use smaller mirrorless camera systems can attest, it is very liberating to be able to leave the house with small, lightweight gear tucked in a jacket pocket.
Purchasing my Nikon 1 J5s back in May, I’ve been enjoying the results from the new 20.8MP BSI sensor. The dynamic range and colour depth are noticeably better than with the Aptina sensor in my Nikon 1 V2s.
I most often use single point auto-focus when shooting with my Nikon 1 gear. This is especially true when capturing ‘macro-type’ images when using extension tubes.
Being able to move the single focusing point virtually anywhere on the back screen of the Nikon 1 J5 really suits my shooting style.
When photographing butterflies in captive venues like the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory using small lightweight camera gear easily allows for one-handed shooting. This comes in handy when stretching to get one’s camera closer to an image opportunity.
My wife and I have divergent views when it comes to butterfly photography. She prefers images that capture the entire butterfly.
I prefer using extension tubes and getting much more ‘close and personal’ with my butterfly subjects and capturing their rather alien-looking details.
One of the challenges when using extension tubes is the loss of light. This obviously affects exposure settings and can result in the use of higher ISO values.
Nikon 1 cameras use a smaller ‘CX’ 1” sized sensor. As expected, low light performance isn’t a strength of the system. To deal with the additional noise when shooting at higher ISOs I rely on the PRIME noise reduction function in DxO OpticsPro 11.
When photographing butterflies I typically use Manual settings combined with Auto-ISO 160-3200. This allows the ISO to ‘float’ as needed to acquire the correct exposure, while giving me the freedom I need to adjust aperture and/or shutter speed as needed.
The 1 Nikon 30-110mm zoom is my favourite lens to use with extension tubes. It is quite small and light making it easy to handle in tight situations. It is also decently sharp, especially given its affordable $280 CDN price.
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