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Date: 22/08/2016 | By: Heather

Nikon 1 J5 Butterfly Photography – Guest post by Thomas Stirr

butterfly photography nikon 1-1

Nikon 1 J5 Butterfly Photography – Guest post by Thomas Stirr

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.

Caption: 110mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-280
Caption: 110mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-280

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.

Caption: 110mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-800
Caption: 110mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-800

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.

Caption: 110mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-3200
Caption: 110mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-3200

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.

Caption: 110mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-500
Caption: 110mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-500

Being able to move the single focusing point virtually anywhere on the back screen of the Nikon 1 J5 really suits my shooting style.

Caption: 110mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-360
Caption: 110mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-360

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.

Caption: 57mm, f/4.5, 1/400, ISO-3200, MOVO extension tubes
Caption: 57mm, f/4.5, 1/400, ISO-3200, MOVO extension tubes

My wife and I have divergent views when it comes to butterfly photography. She prefers images that capture the entire butterfly.

Caption: 59mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-640, MOVO extension tubes
Caption: 59mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-640, MOVO extension tubes

I prefer using extension tubes and getting much more ‘close and personal’ with my butterfly subjects and capturing their rather alien-looking details.

Caption: 62mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-2200, MOVO extension tubes
Caption: 62mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-2200, MOVO extension tubes

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.

Caption: 62mm, f/8, 1/80, ISO-1800, MOVO extension tubes
Caption: 62mm, f/8, 1/80, ISO-1800, MOVO extension tubes

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.

Caption: 51mm, f/4.5, 1/250, ISO-3200
Caption: 51mm, f/4.5, 1/250, ISO-3200

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.

Caption: 69mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-2500
Caption: 69mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-2500

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.

Article and all images are Copyright 2016 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, adaptation of any kind, or duplication/reproduction is allowed without written consent. Mirrorlessons.com is the only approved user of this article. If you see it reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use.


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About the author: Heather Broster

Heather Broster was born in Canada, has lived in Japan and Italy but currently calls Wales home. She is a full-time gear tester at MirrorLessons. You can follow her on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • Thomas Stirr

    Hi zensu,

    Thanks for sharing your insights about photographing butterflies! I’ve also been enjoying photographing butterflies for many years. Shooting at a captive environment like the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory does make things a lot easier.

    Tom

  • Thomas Stirr

    Hi Joni – I’m glad you enjoyed the images! The butterflies are quite tame as the images were captured at the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory.
    Tom

  • zensu

    Been shooting butterflies for years and I’ve found 1)Butterflies move more slowly early in the morning because the temperature is much cooler and they haven’t warmed up yet and 2)Butterflies often go to the same flower again and again. Of course even using these techniques my images aren’t near as good as Thomas and his wife.

  • Joni A Solis

    Great photos Tom! I see you had a nice variety of butterflies to photograph and they must be pretty tame to let you get so close to them.

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