This article discusses photographing bees with a digital teleconverter and shares a selection of handheld images captured earlier this week. While it can be a fun and interesting experiment to do extreme tests with one’s gear, it is also important to assess things from a practical perspective.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
The digital teleconverter extreme test that I did earlier this month (sample image above) was certainly fun… and a great practice session for eye/hand coordination. From a practical perspective, the loss of image quality was beyond what many photographers would find acceptable.
In addition, the degree of mental concentration and physical discipline required to shoot handheld with an equivalent field-of-view of 3200 mm, was likely beyond what many folks would find comfortable.
So, I decided to return to the Royal Botanical Gardens to photograph bees with a digital teleconverter, but this time from a practical perspective. My objective was to see if I could shoot at 800 mm (efov 1600 mm) and get out-of-camera jpegs that would deliver an acceptable level of image quality.
I also thought it was important to severely limit the amount of adjustments done in post to the out-of-camera jpegs. To that end, all of the new photographs featured in this article had Topaz Denoise AI applied to them. I can’t remember ever spending so little time in post with a selection of photographs as I did with these. The adjustment literally came down to opening up each jpeg file and making a single mouse click in Topaz Denoise AI.
I set my software to ‘Severe Noise’ with ‘Auto’ engaged and just let the software do its thing. All photographs are displayed as full frame captures without any cropping, and resized for web use.
Knowing that I was intending on using out-of-camera jpegs with almost no post processing done to them, I made some slight adjustments to my camera settings.
I stopped my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm IS zoom lens down slightly to f/8 to provide a bit more depth of field. It was a very windy day so I increased my shutter speed to 1/2500 to allow for the significant plant and flower movement.
I used Continuous Auto-Focus with Sequential Low Silent Shutter, with a single AF point engaged… and reduced my frame rate to 10 fps. The slower frame rate decision was taken to help my E-M1X acquire good focus given the dramatic plant and flower movements.
It was a bright, sunny day so I used -0.7 EV of exposure compensation to help avoid blowing out the subject highlights. I used Auto-ISO and let my E-M1X chose the appropriate ISO value.
As I walked past a number of flower display areas I paid attention to the number of bees on the flowers, the position of the sun, and the amount of plant/flower movement. After deciding on a particular flower bed, I set up my stool and selected an appropriate shooting angle with the sun at my back.
I also selected a ‘shooting zone’ that measured about one square metre, so I could concentrate my efforts within a designated physical area. This allowed for much faster eye/hand coordination as the bees buzzed from blossom to blossom.
I captured quite a high volume of uninteresting back shots of bees, which I knew I would delete when I returned home. These images were captured with the sole purpose of helping me speed up my response time within my designated shooting zone.
Once I was comfortable with my response time, I began to be much more selective with my compositions and waited for specific perspectives of subject bees.
When possible, I waited for bees to visit specific blossoms that allowed me to achieve good subject separation from the background.
The bee activity was pretty fast and furious… but I did create a couple of compositions that used a foreground element blur to help focus attention of the subject bee.
The auto-focusing of my E-M1X when using its Digital Teleconverter with my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm zoom fully extended, was fast and accurate.
Overall I was quite pleased with the results that were achieved photographing bees with the E-M1X’s Digital Teleconverter.
After spending a reasonable amount of time in the field over the past few months experimenting with the Digital Teleconverter I came to quite like this technology. For the work that I do, I don’t think using the Digital Teleconverter in combination with the M.Zuiko MC-14 or MC-20 makes a lot of sense for me.
When used appropriately to put as many pixels on a close-up subject as possible, the Digital Teleconverter proved to be a very practical and effective photographic tool. One that I will continue using in the future in specific situations.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from out-of-camera jpegs. Topaz Denoise AI was applied to the images featured in this article. All photographs are displayed as full frame captures with no cropping done to them. Images have been resized for web use. This is the 1,316 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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