Visiting the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory is always an enjoyable experience. There is a wonderful assortment of butterflies free-flying in the facility, as well as interesting flowers. I decided to spend a couple of hours capturing butterfly images with a Nikon 1 J5, 1 Nikon 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 VR zoom lens, and some MOVO extension tubes thrown in for good measure.
First, let’s start with a quick look at the gear I used to capture the images in this article.
As you can see the Nikon 1 J5 with the 1 Nikon 30-110 mm and MOVO extension tubes makes for a pretty small and light kit. Something that I’ve been appreciating more the older I get.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
I found that the Nikon 1 J5 and 1 Nikon 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 were a great combination to use to capture full body images of butterflies. Focusing was fast and accurate and the improved dynamic range and colour depth of the J5’s BSI sensor when compared to my trio of V2’s was noticeable when working in post.
The lighting is quite variable at the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory so I opted to shoot in Manual mode with Auto-ISO 160-3200.
I had to remind myself that the Nikon 1 J5 has about 2/5 of a stop difference in terms of measured ISO when compared to my V2’s. At a manufacturer-stated ISO of 3200 the J5 is actually shooting at ISO-1853 compared to ISO-2416 for my V2’s. Readers interested in manufactured stated ISO versus measured ISO can use the link to read an article on this subject.
I watched my exposures but did intentionally under expose the odd image as not to use a higher ISO but still get the desired aperture and shutter speed. I knew from experience that I could lighten the J5 images in post without any problems as long as I didn’t go crazy with my underexposures.
I chose to use spot metering as I was paying specific attention to key areas of the subjects in terms of exposure and auto-focus.
As is my standard practice when shooting with Nikon 1 gear I used single point auto-focus for all of the images in this article.
I actually ended the visit capturing the full body images you have just viewed. When at the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory my first priority is to use extension tubes to create a magnification effect.
While I love the effect, my wife finds highly magnified images of butterflies rather creepy and alien-like.
I didn’t keep a log of specific images, but it is safe to say that the ones with the least amount of magnification effect were taken with the 21 mm MOVO extension tube.
All of the other images with greater levels of magnification would have been taken with all three MOVO tubes stacked (10 mm, 16 mm and 21 mm). If you want some approximate magnification values when using extension tubes with the 1 Nikon 30-110 mm and 1 Nikon CX 70-300 I wrote an earlier article on this subject.
My preferred way to achieve focus when using the MOVO extension tubes is to get my camera in position, then use the zoom control on the lens to achieve approximate focus. Then I move the single auto-focus point exactly where I want it on the subject and allow the camera’s auto-focus to snap it into fine focus when I half depress the shutter.
This allows me to work with individual butterflies that may be moving around without the need to use the ‘focus and recompose’ technique.
All images were captured hand-held in available light using a Nikon 1 J5 and 1 Nikon 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 VR zoom lens. MOVO extension tubes were used for some of the images as noted in the article. All photographs in this article were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro 10 Elite, CS6, and Nik Suite.
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