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Flying dragonflies
Posted By: MacLoz, 08-06-2017, 03:42 AM

I like macros (1:1) and pseudo-macros (1:2, 1:3,…). With my K-5, depending on the flowers or bugs of the day, I use Pentax DFA 100mm f/2.8 macro WR -sometimes with Pentax HD-DA 1.4x AW Rear Converter - or Sigma 70-300 F4-5.6 APO DG Macro, specially when the targets are dragonflies, butterflies, wasps… and the like.

For those skitter critters and, mainly, for flying dragonflies I use the Sigma 70-300 APO, but one of the problems is focusing: AF is very slow and noisy, MF is slow and not very precise when the dragonflies move fast… so, I am looking to expand my set of lenses to improve the low ratio of acceptable/scrap pictures.

The attached K-5 photos are not cropped, just reduced: The first one is an Anax ephippiger taken with (300mm., F14, 1/400, ISO1250). The second one is an Aeshna affinis, taken with (300mm., F16, 1/180, Flash fired, ISO3200)

For K-5, it seems that the only alternative is the Sigma 18-300 F3.5–6.3 DC Macro HSM -Contemporary, with a modest 1:3 magnification ratio and a potential improvement to 1:2 using a specific close-up lens. Although the new 18-300 is HSM, I doubt about the speed and ISO requirement for such a lens combination.

The other alternative is the Pentax DA 55-300 f4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR, with just 1:3 ratio, but K-5 would be out of the game and K-70 would be the new master of ceremonies, to be bought together with the 55-300 PLM.

Thinking on the speed, the ISO, AF vs. MF, the DOF… sometimes I doubt of the above alternatives.

I would appreciate your comments on additional alternatives.

Last edited by MacLoz; 04-22-2018 at 04:18 AM.
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08-06-2017, 04:36 AM   #2
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Awesome pictures
08-06-2017, 05:37 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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I have done this kind of dragonflies-in-flight photography before - with a manually focused Sigma 180mm f/3.5 APO EX lens. Manual focus throw on macro lenses tend to be longer and more precise than common AF lenses.


Pentax K7 - Sigma 180mm f/3.5 APO EX - ISO 400 f/11 1/500th

Last edited by Digitalis; 08-06-2017 at 05:44 AM.
08-06-2017, 05:48 AM   #4
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Based on my own few desultory efforts at taking similar pics, I can suggest it is your own patience and skill that counts rather than the lens etc.

My own thought on trying to get more ooomph from the gear would be one of the "pro" 70/80-200mm f2.8's, maybe used with a matching iq 1.4x tc.

08-06-2017, 11:04 AM   #5
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ok

did you photoshop the string or stand you put those dragonflies on when you photographed them

very nice shots

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The photographs of the OP and Digitalis has inspired an idea

we have a couple of insect threads

and a pollinators in action threads which includes insects

and a BIF [ birds in flight ] thread

I am starting a bif [ bugs in flight ] thread

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/26-mini-challenges-games-photo-stories/3...ug-flight.html

please contribute

Last edited by aslyfox; 08-07-2017 at 06:00 AM.
08-06-2017, 02:00 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
ok

did you photoshop the string or stand you put those dragonflies on when you photographed them

very nice shots

_____________________


The photographs of the OP and Digitalis has inspired an idea

we have a couple of insect threads

and a pollinators in action threads which includes insects

and a BIF [ birds in flight ] thread

I am starting a bif [ bugs in flight ] thread

please contribute
Absoluteliy Not, Aslyfox...
They were just flying naturally, no string or stand was used: the legs positions indicate clearly the flight status...
08-06-2017, 02:31 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by MacLoz Quote
Absoluteliy Not, Aslyfox...
They were just flying naturally, no string or stand was used: the legs positions indicate clearly the flight status...
sorry you misunderstood

the




was supposed to indicate I was kidding you

great photos
08-06-2017, 03:54 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by marcusBMG Quote
My own thought on trying to get more ooomph from the gear would be one of the "pro" 70/80-200mm f2.8's, maybe used with a matching iq 1.4x tc.
Minimum focus distance probably wouldn't be close enough, and knowing most 70~200mm f/2.8 lens designs with IF at 200mm: your working distance will probably be shorter than you'd think.


Last edited by Digitalis; 08-06-2017 at 03:59 PM.
08-07-2017, 02:33 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
I have done this kind of dragonflies-in-flight photography before - with a manually focused Sigma 180mm f/3.5 APO EX lens. Manual focus throw on macro lenses tend to be longer and more precise than common AF lenses.


Pentax K7 - Sigma 180mm f/3.5 APO EX - ISO 400 f/11 1/500th
Good animal, those Sigma's 180 compatible with Pentax...
Today's Sigmas 180, 150, 105 HSM's are no longer friendly with us... what a pity !
And Ricoh's maximum macro offer is just 100 without SDM... what a pity, again !
Perhaps you're right and the maximum we can aspire is just manual focus... and good luck
08-07-2017, 05:29 AM - 1 Like   #10
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Great shots, how did you get them? Were the dragonflies hovering or did you use catch in focus? Catching dragonflies in flight is one of my biggest challenges. I am hoping to have a chance with the 55-300 PLM which has a really fast autofocus. I got this shot of one while perched with the 55-300 so I know it is sharp enough. Now it is working on technique.
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08-07-2017, 07:51 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by jddwoods Quote
Great shots, how did you get them? Were the dragonflies hovering or did you use catch in focus? Catching dragonflies in flight is one of my biggest challenges. I am hoping to have a chance with the 55-300 PLM which has a really fast autofocus. I got this shot of one while perched with the 55-300 so I know it is sharp enough. Now it is working on technique.
Hovering… I’ve never used catch-in-focus. It seems to me rather complicated or subject to chance, considering the almost unpredictable flying trajectories of the dragonflies.

With still dragonflies, I always use K-5 + 70-300 APO, macro at 200-300 mm., SR On and monopod, with acceptable average results. With flying drafonflies I use to shot in MF and TAv mode, ISO upper limit set to 2400-3200, depending on light conditions, apertures between F/11-F/16 and speed above 1/400, unless flashing with K-5 flash. I prefer flash-off, if possible. Flying dragonflies are, normally, patrolling Aeshnidae or ovipositing Libellulidae. Percentage of “acceptable” shots, around 10%, without any Photoshop make-up.

I suppose that, with 55-300 PLM focusing speed, AF should go better than MF, making unnecessary catch-in-focus. That is something that you could try with your K-3. Maybe, your feedback info could help my decision between Sigma 18-300 and Pentax 55-300.

Very nice shot of that beautiful lady: I think it is an individual not present in my area

Last edited by MacLoz; 08-07-2017 at 07:55 AM. Reason: Addition
08-07-2017, 11:27 AM - 1 Like   #12
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I've posted this previously but here's about the only good flying dragonfly I have:

K20D and the 50-200mm DA zoom.


For what it's worth the approach I used was to find it at 50mm and zoom in. From memory it's taken at about f8 and manually focussed.

Ralph
08-08-2017, 05:45 AM   #13
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For some dragonflies you'll need to use their behavior to your advantage. They patrol. Some perch and sally for food. I've not had much luck with getting shots in flight, but when I have, it's been manual focus and snapping shots as the dragonflies patrol through the focus "box" - which of course takes patience. The ones which perch much of the time and just dart out to catch prey will be very difficult to get in flight. Skimmers are like this. Those big darners and saddlebags are probably the most likely to patrol and not frequently land.

I encourage you! It's a path which may lead to madness and many mosquito bites.
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