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Tips To Get Close-Up Insect Photos With The Nikon 18-105mm Lens

Bumblebee

I mentioned several times now in my blog that it’s impossible to get real macro photos with the Nikon 18-105mm lens, however, in this post I will write down how you can get decent insect close-up shots with this lens, it’s possible but not without limits.

First of all, it’s definitely impossible to take close-up photos of any insects smaller than a bumblebee, common bee or wasp, of course you can take photos of anything smaller but I wouldn’t call it close-up anymore, the fact is you can not really get closer to tiny insects.

But you can get quite close to insects like the mentioned bees or insects that are not much smaller, in this case you can take close-up photos with the 18-105 lens, which means you can show off the insect as the main attraction of the photo. Here is what I learned…

You need to set the lens to 105mm, for two reasons, first it will give us a narrow view focusing on the subject, second it will make the background a little bit blurry (bokeh) if there is enough distance between the subject and the background, but there are limits.

We can’t get too close to the subject with 105mm. If you are too close, focusing won’t be possible anymore, neither manually nor automatically. Try to get close enough until focusing is not possible anymore and then get back until you get the subject in focus.

You can use autofocus, but I suggest to focus manually, because depending on how much flowers  there are, the autofocus might have a hard time to work, do it manually and you can control it on your own. That’s all you need to know when you take the photo, but…

To get even closer, you can make use of any graphic software, you can crop the image. You need to experiment, because you can not crop how you like, you want to obtain a photo that is sharp enough. Try to experiment and a little bit of cropping gets you even closer.

For macro photography, the 18-105 kit lens is definitely limiting, but it’s still possible to get surprising close-up shots. Set the lens to 105mm, find the distance where you still can focus the subject, do focus manually, take the photo and crop the image at home.

14 Comments »

    • It’s interesting, when you don’t have a macro lens, you try to work around the limits with the gear you have 🙂 But I will save for a macro lens too, it’s sad if you can not take pictures of super tiny creatures 😀

  1. Great tips! It works about the same with my Sony 18-50 mm lens, although I don’t trust my eyes enough to use manual focus! I will think I have the photo perfectly focused but, when I get it on my computer monitor, it’s not in focus.

    • You make a good point, you can not be 100% sure with the viewfinder, also not with the display. When I have to focus manually, I take about 3 images each with the focus ring adjusted different, but adjusted on a way where my eyes still tell me “It should be in focus now” 😀

      It often works out well and I have one or two clean images. But in many cases you can use the autofocus anyway, it’s just that I had trouble to focus if there are for example two many flower stems in the scene, or other things that might distract the autofocus. So, I do only focus manually in situations where the autofocus makes wrong decisions.

      • I would probably find manual focus easier to use if my camera had a view finder but it doesn’t. (Something I started regretting once we started having a lot of sunny weather – the display is very hard to see in the bright sun!) I should still experiment and try taking several images like you do because there are times when my autofocus gets confused like that too. Thank you for the great suggestion!

      • That seems like a problem, it’s indeed very hard to use a display with full sunlight… I can not see a lot on my D7100 LCD screen either when there is sun, but I use the viewfinder most of the time anyway… sad that you don’t have this option.

        I can understand that you regret it, but we do often regret things but then we can use this experience in the future when we buy new gear… I had this happen to me with other things so often… I believe we learn about our demands or pros and cons of products over time… it’s often hard to consider every aspect before a purchase.

        But I do wonder if there is any solution to your problem but a quik question to Google reveals that there are at least some kind of LCD shades that you can attach… not sure if there is one that fits to your camera,… maybe you find one for your camera… also not sure if they really work well. On the other side it’s of course a question if it’s worth it for the few situations when you want to focus manually… depends on how often you would do that I think 🙂

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