Bugging out with a Macro Lens
July, 2011 - Article by Aaron Cress
Caption:A grasshopper soaking up the sun on a warm summer day.
--Photo by: Aaron Cress--

Insects, bugs, and creepy crawlies are the little lives that inhabit our yards and sometimes our homes. They are abundant and not hard to find, yet they are often overlooked. This makes them great photography subjects. With a macro lens and a little patience, you can get some stunning images. Like insects, macro lenses come in many different millimeter lengths. Which length is best depends on what you are trying to capture.

Two different lenses and an extension tube were used for these photos. An extension tube is an adapter that is placed between the camera body and the lens, allowing the lens to focus closer than it normally would. The extension tube works well with a telephoto lens. A Nikon 135mm f/2.8 AIS lens with a 27.5mm extension tube was used here, allowing the focusing distance to be shortened from 4ft down to about 2ft. This combination allows a reasonable working distance from easily spooked insects like the dragonfly.

Another lens used was the Nikon 55mm f/2.8 AIS, a dedicated macro lens allowing a working distance as low as 9 inches. This is great for capturing very tiny insects. Manual focus is used for both combinations, allowing for fine tuning of the focus on the tiny details of the insect. When working with faster-moving insects, a macro auto-focus lens is the best option. For a tight budget, extension tubes and close-up filters will give you more versatility with the lenses you already own.