Yesterday I took a few hours away from some current projects and visited the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory with my Olympus TG-5. I wanted to experiment a bit more with this camera so I could better understand its capabilities, especially when shooting in microscopic mode. This article shares a selection of Olympus TG-5 butterfly macro images.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
It’s important for me to state right up front that I have never worked with any camera gear that allowed me to capture so many potential macro photography ‘keepers’ so quickly, as when using the Olympus TG-5. After about 2.5 hours at the facility, I ended up with over 100 potential ‘keeper’ images.
As is the case when using any new camera gear it does take some practice and experimentation. This was only my third time out using the Olympus TG-5 for macro-type photography and I really enjoyed the experience.
As with any photographic subject choosing a good shooting angle is very important, as well as your focusing point. During this visit to the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory I was more discerning in my selection of subject matter.
I found that it was actually fairly easy to get in close to subject butterflies if I used a very slow approach. In many cases I was able to move my TG-5 successively closer until I was almost touching a subject butterfly and not scare it away. The following two photographs are good illustrations of this. The first image is one of my initial captures, and the second image that follows it, is one of my final photographs of that particular butterfly.
When working with this level of magnification, hand-held technique is very important. I had my best success when I was able to brace both of my wrists on a hard surface when holding the camera. The shutter on the Olympus TG-5 is a bit stiff. This is likely a design issue to help ensure its underwater capability. Since it takes a bit more shutter finger pressure it is important to have the camera rock steady when shooting. One handed shooting is difficult because of the pressure needed on the shutter button.
Shooting with only one wrist anchored is certainly still possible. Choosing a shooting angle that allows more background lighting in the frame, and a corresponding faster shutter speed, is helpful.
I did miss a number of hand-held image captures. Most of these were caused by subject movement, or by me trying to use too slow of a shutter speed. At this point it looks like 1/40th of a second would be my realistic hand-holding limit with the Olympus TG-5.
To give readers a good idea of the capabilities of the Olympus TG-5 when shot in microscopic mode, all of the images in this article are 100% captures with no cropping done to them at all.
As is often the case when working with small sensor RAW files in post, I had to be very aggressive with them. When working with these Olympus TG-5 butterfly macro images, I almost always took highlights to -100 in CS6 and black down to -50 or even further. After those adjustments I would work on bringing back shadow details.
PRIME noise reduction in DxO PhotoLab did a good job handling noise. I kept my ISO limited to ISO-1600. I will likely experiment with this in the future to see if I can realistically push that to ISO-3200. I am beginning to better understand how to handle the TG-5’s RAW files in post.
I was able to photograph an ant that was static long enough to grab a few images. As you can see with the image above, and the one below, choosing a focusing point on a subject is critical. I’ll need to practice a bit more!
Being able to confidently shoot hand-held at this higher level of magnification opens up some additional creative opportunities that I am looking forward to explore.
The Olympus LG-1 LED macro ring light is an important accessory to purchase for this type of photography. All images in this article were shot using that ring light. If you purchase an Olympus TG-5 be sure to download the online manual. The basic information provided in the camera box is inadequate.
All photographs in this article were captured hand-held using camera gear as per the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection.
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