This article discusses photographing bees with a teleconverter. This posting shares a selection of test images that were captured handheld using an OM-D E-M1X, M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom lens, M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter, and a 16 mm Kenko Extension Tube.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
To give readers a good idea of the magnification that this set-up provides, all of the photographs in this article are displayed as 100% captures without any cropping.
Many people enjoy doing close-up photography, but don’t do it frequently enough to justify buying a dedicated macro lens. The most common solutions are to use a teleconverter or an extension tube.
In both cases the penalty is a loss of light. As would be expected, the longer the extension tube, or the more magnification provided by the teleconverter… the more pronounced the loss of light will be.
As regular readers know, I often like to push my camera gear just to see what will happen. So, for this article I used an M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter combined with a 16 mm Kenko extension tube.
My overall set-up of an Olympus OM-D E-M1X fitted with the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8, the teleconverter and extension tube was still easy to handle.
Using an extension tube shortens the minimum focusing distance of your lens. You also lose the ability to focus at infinity. When using an extension tube, it is important to establish the shooting distance you will have to stay within.
If you check the EXIF data you’ll see that my E-M1X reported subject distances that ranged from about 700 mm to 1.1 metres. So, I had about 400 mm (~ 15.75 inches) as a physical operating range between my minimum and maximum focusing distances.
Parts of my backyard were very breezy yesterday so I used faster shutter speeds that ranged from 1/800 to 1/1600 of a second to help freeze subject motion.
The bees were very active, moving from blossom to blossom quite quickly. Once on a flower, they tended to move about constantly. This made composition a bit challenging. I also had to pre-determine the best shooting angles in terms of lighting.
I started off with some standard images of bees, shooting down on them, and checking the accuracy of my auto-focusing. My typical bird setting of continuous auto-focus using high sequential silent shutter at 18 frames-per-second worked well. I used a single auto-focus point to give me maximum control.
Photographing bees with a teleconverter and an extension tube, worked out better than I had anticipated. The overall set-up afforded an easily workable operating distance away from the subject bees, while still providing a decent amount of subject magnification.
I tried to anticipate the movements of the bees and did my best to position my single auto-focus on their heads. Looking for favourable lighting was also top of mind.
If you enjoy close-up photography, using a teleconverter in conjunction with an extension can produce good results. There is a loss of light when compared to using a dedicated macro lens, so you may need to use higher ISO values. This is a trade-off that many folks find acceptable.
One of the benefits of macro/close-up photography is that subject matter is as close as our own backyards, or a neighbourhood park. All of the photographs featured in this article were captured yesterday during a 40 minute photo session in my backyard.
Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Image were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Photographs are displayed as 100% captures without any cropping. I captured these images using Manual mode, Auto-ISO, continuous auto-focus at 18 frames-per-second, with a single auto-focus point.
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