Sony A9 III Butterfly in Flight

AlphaWorld

Veteran Member
Followers
10
Following
0
Joined
Apr 8, 2021
Posts
1,397
Likes Received
940
Name
Tony
For some reason I've been trying to photograph butterflies in flight at the Butterfly House at Melbourne Zoo.

The A7RIV - perfect for butterflies at rest, but in-flight - no chance with me behind the camera

The A1 - a better camera, and maybe if I worked hard at a strategy for getting focus onto the butterfly, maybe?

The A7RV - has an Insect AF mode! I have managed some not awful shots, limited by the lenses I had at the time, but showing promise.

The A9 III - now we're getting serious. Insect AF mode, combined with ludicrous speed, and add in the 300 GM - if I can't do it with this, I'm takin' my bat and ball and goin' home!

This is a 100 per cent crop of 1500 x 1000 (from 6000 x 4000). No post process sharpening. Image has been processed, including Adobe AI de-noise (basically removing chroma noise from the background). For anyone wondering about the sharpness of the 300 GM near the corners, this is from the lower right corner of frame.

Shot at f/4, 1/2000, ISO 6400 (hence the chroma noise!)

ButterflyInFlight100pc.jpg
 
To photograph insects in flight I use ISO12800, small aperture to maximise dof, 10 frames per second, fingers crossed, and let the camera decide the shutter speed. Only a few shots will be any good, but it does not matter that most of your shots are rejects. When I want to photograph insects flying in my garden I set up my camera on a tripod pointed at a flower that attracts insects then wait for something to come near, then shoot with a cable release. I do not try to fill the frame with the subject as it is possible to crop severely with modern cameras, as you have shown. This increases the depth of field and therefore the success rate.
 
A lot depends on the butterfly species, as some are slow and steady, others very erratic. I wouldn't use less than 1/2500th though, and smaller ones are nigh impossible to capture, regardless of shutter speed. Here's one from 4 years ago. No exif as I grabbed this from my FB page, but I know it was 1/2500th, f8, shot on a Nikon D7500 and Tamron 150 600 G2. No need for 120fps...
Swallowtail in flight.jpg
 
Last edited:
Timely post as I was going to go to our Butterfly House with the AR7IV to see what it could do. But, we got 6 inches of snow, so I decided to stay home due to road conditions. Now, I am even more curious. Thanks for the tips mentioned here as they will be helpful!
 
A lot depends on the butterfly species, as some are slow and steady, others very erratic. I wouldn't use less than 1/2500th though, and smaller ones are nigh impossible to capture, regardless of shutter speed. Here's one from 4 years ago. No exif as I grabbed this from my FB page, but I know it was 1/2500th, f8.View attachment 55738
Which camera Kev?
 
The A1 - a better camera, and maybe if I worked hard at a strategy for getting focus onto the butterfly, maybe?
The strategy I used to get a long series of moths having combat after just spending over an hour photographing Tree Swallows in flight was: Wonder if I can photograph those moths over there in flight.
Moth Air Combat - BCSP - 04182021 - 54 - dn.jpg
  • ILCE-1
  • Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS (SEL100400GM)
  • 282.0 mm
  • ƒ/5.6
  • 1/4000 sec
  • ISO 640


For actual effort I found the 100-400GM to be better than the 200-600G
Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly - Merietta PA - 07312021 - 15 -DN.jpg
  • ILCE-1
  • Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS (SEL100400GM)
  • 400.0 mm
  • ƒ/5.6
  • 1/4000 sec
  • ISO 1600
 
Well nobody told me or the a9 2022 Monserrat Spain even harder are hawk moth
monserrat spain 2022 (7).jpg
  • ILCE-9
  • Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS (SEL70200G)
  • 109.0 mm
  • ƒ/8
  • 1/2000 sec
  • ISO 1600
monserrat spain 2022 6.jpg
  • ILCE-9
  • Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS (SEL70200G)
  • 200.0 mm
  • ƒ/9
  • 1/5000 sec
  • ISO 4000
 
We had a Hummingbird Hawk Moth visit our garden quite regularly last summer and managed to get a few shots - one attached.
DSC05764- Hummingbird Hawkmoth.jpeg
  • ILCE-7M4
  • FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS + 1.4X Teleconverter
  • 840.0 mm
  • ƒ/9
  • 1/4000 sec
  • ISO 3200
 
Back
Top