Photographing Bees with Teleconverter

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-6400, subject distance 850 mm

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/1600, ISO-6400, subject distance 880 mm

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-4000, subject distance 700 mm

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-6400, subject distance 715 mm

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-2500, subject distance 900 mm

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-2500, subject distance 890 mm

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/7.1, 1/1000, ISO-3200, subject distance 795 mm

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-2500, subject distance 785 mm

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-2500, subject distance 800 mm

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-1600, subject distance 705 mm

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-2500, subject distance 895 mm

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/800, ISO-640, subject distance 740 mm

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-1600, subject distance 1.1 metres

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-2500, subject distance 740 mm

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.

Technical Note:

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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Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and 16 mm Kenko extension tube @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/800, ISO-400, subject distance 880 mm

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9 thoughts on “Photographing Bees with Teleconverter”

  1. Snap! My 40-150 Pro and MC14 teleconverter have seldom been parted since purchasing them as a combo nearly 3 years ago, and seldom not attached to my E-M5 MkII. Makes for a versatile oufit that produces sharp images and do good close-ups with great bokeh or zoom out to do a useful job for small birds in the backyard. With a constant f4 there is plenty of scope for darker conditions with the IBIS as well. One of the main reasons I will continue with my Olympus gear as long as it works!

    1. Hi Mark,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-14 teleconverter! I have also found this lens to be excellent, although I use mine with the MC-20 teleconverter. I also use the PRO 40-150 f/2.8 (with no converter attached) for some of my video work and it is superb, even when shot handheld at 150 mm.

      Tom

  2. Great set of images Tom.

    Please clarify ..the order you have your gear assembled. i.e
    lens-tube-extender-body OR lens-extender-tube-body.
    Thank you. This increases the usefulness of the 40-150/2.8 even further. Glen

  3. Another bonus using the 40 – 150 + 2x + 16mm tube is that “in camera” focus stacking seems to work with my Olympus OMD-E-M1 MARK II.

  4. Thank you for your reply. I have another brand of tubes but I will carefully check that out. I had read that not all tubes will work safely and I am still not sure what great benefit the combination will be from a practical standpoint anyhow. But – you know how we all like to “play” with our “toys”. LOL

  5. A timely article. I have been thinking about experimenting using such a setup. The 40 – 150 with the 2x focuses quite close anyway for slightly larger subjects. Excellent images – as usual. I have also been doing a little research on using the 2x teleconvertor and the 60mm macro with the extension tubes in between to facilitate the connection.

    1. Hi Ted,

      I’m not sure that your idea will work. I had a look at my Kenko M4/3 tubes and the MC-20 teleconverter. The rubber protrusion on the MC-20 appears that it would need to be forced a bit to fit into the extension tube to work. In my mind this may affect the rubber seal on the MC-20, potentially damaging its weatherproofing capability.

      Tom

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