Wasps In-Flight at 1600 mm

This article features a selection of photographs of wasps in-flight at 1600 mm efov, captured handheld at Grimsby Wetlands. As regular readers know, from time to time I like to give myself a specific challenge… and push my camera gear… just to see what will happen.

Yesterday my objective was to capture some images of wasps in flight using my E-M1X with the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter. Fully extended this combination provides a focal length of 800 mm, with a 1600 mm equivalent field-of-view. The challenge is that this combination also means that I’m shooting at f/13… so diffraction can become an issue.

I used Pro Capture H with my standard small bird settings, which includes a shutter speed of 1/2500. Even though I was shooting in very good light, this combination when shot at f/13 and 1/2500 still required ISO values between 2500 and 6400 with the majority of my photographs at the higher end.

I’ve never tried photographing wasps in flight before so this was an interesting experience.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600, f/13, 1/2500, ISO-3200, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3588 pixels on the height, subject distance 2.2 metres

The first thing that I learned very quickly is that wasps are more erratic than bees when it comes to their flight paths when taking flight. This made image captures more challenging.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600, f/13, 1/2500, ISO-5000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4244 pixels on the width, subject distance 2.7 metres

Using the M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter does not affect the minimum focusing distance of my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom lens. I was able to achieve a good level of magnification, while maintaining a safe distance away from the wasps.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600, f/13, 1/2500, ISO-5000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3670 pixels on the width, subject distance 2.5 metres

Wasps seem to spend more time around a blossom than bees do,  which can increase physical stress when shooting handheld. I sat on a nearby park bench so I could prop my elbows up on my knees. I would definitely bring a short stool with me if I was shooting at a location that did not have park benches or some other kind of seating.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600, f/13, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3660 pixels on the width, subject distance 2.3 metres

Part of my self-induced challenge was to use my camera gear fully extended to 800 mm, or an efov of 1600 mm. I did not allow myself the luxury of zooming in and out to help find a target wasp in my EVF. With multiple blossoms in close proximity, finding the subject wasp was a challenge at times. As a result I did miss a few photographs… but the exercise and eye/hand coordination practice was worth the effort.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600, f/13, 1/2500, ISO-5000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3538 pixels on the width, subject distance 2.5 metres

Since it was difficult to photograph the wasps taking flight parallel to the focal plane of my camera’s sensor, I did notice more issues with rolling shutter effect. Towards the end of my photo session I became more selective before I fully depressed my shutter release.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600, f/13, -0.3 EV, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3831 pixels on the width, subject distance 2.5 metres

I quite enjoyed using the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom to photograph wasps and some other larger insects. Reasonably static subjects could be photographed using slower shutter speeds than I used for these wasps in flight.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600, f/13, -0,3 EV, 1/2500, ISO-5000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3753 pixels on the width, subject distance 2.6 metres

Similar to butterflies and bees, wasps launch from a flower very quickly. Fast shutter release reaction time is needed to capture them reasonably close to a flower.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600, f/13, -0,3 EV, 1/2500, ISO-5000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3741 pixels on the width, subject distance 2.6 metres

The next time I attempt to photograph wasps in flight I’ll try the M.Zuiko MC-14, or perhaps forgo teleconverters altogether if I can get in close enough. Using a short extension tube is also something that I will likely try in the future. The key is to get my shots without getting bit or stung!

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600, f/13, -0,3 EV, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3532 pixels on the width, subject distance 2 metres

Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted. This is the 1,055th article published on this website since its original inception.

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2 thoughts on “Wasps In-Flight at 1600 mm”

  1. I am very impressed with your persistence. For so long we have been told that the sensor is useless at high ISO, you clearly show this is not true. I have tried wasps with nowhere near the success you have had, I will try again! Thank you for this and many of your other articles.

    1. I’m glad the articles have been helpful Jerry,

      There are physical limitations with various types of camera gear… but these limitations shift as newer technologies are introduced and different approaches in image capture and post processing are used. If I would have accepted what other people told me about Nikon 1 cameras I would have never used them beyond ISO-800… not at ISO-3200 that I’ve been doing for years. The most important thing is for each of us to experiment with what we own.

      Tom

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