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Autofocus for macro critters?

Albert D

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Do most of you use autofocus on insects? I have some physical limitations and walk with a cane. I have considered a sturdy monopod to use as a combination walking stick and camera support. If I kneel down or sit on the ground it's very painful and difficult to get back up. I plan to also try a portable seat of some kind.
 
I don't: my macro lens is manual focus.
 
Do most of you use autofocus on insects? I have some physical limitations and walk with a cane. I have considered a sturdy monopod to use as a combination walking stick and camera support. If I kneel down or sit on the ground it's very painful and difficult to get back up. I plan to also try a portable seat of some kind.
How would autofocus help you get closer without kneeling or sitting on the ground? You might try a longer lens with extension tubes and/or a teleconverter..
 
I use only manual focus now. I find I get much better results with manual focusing. Also, if you are going to venture into focus stacking manual focusing is a must. You can also have a lot of fun doing macros of inanimate objects at home and at your leisure (within your comfort range). My recent post of an IBM type-ball is a good example.
 
How would autofocus help you get closer without kneeling or sitting on the ground? You might try a longer lens with extension tubes and/or a teleconverter..
It wouldn't but with my condition it's difficult to keep a steady stance. I have severe bone loss in my pelvis. It's enough that there is not enough bone to support a hip replacement.
 
AF systems today are much improved from what they were, and higher end cameras can do a much more viable job of AF for macro work than older cameras; but its still a challenge for them and manual focusing is often easier.

That said honestly it sounds like with your condition you want to consider alternative approaches. Instead of getting down with the bugs, get them up to your level. There are many large flowering plants (bushes, roses, buddleia and the like) that will have a host of insects settling on them to warm in the morning sun or to feed. Try to get out early or late in the day - midday and hot spots of the day and insects will be very active and hyper aware; the cooler parts of the day far less so and easier to photograph.

If you've space of your own then you can setup lures such as wineropes for moths; or sugar deposits (small - don't use honey since it will poison bees from different hives). Even just potted plants on a tabletop can help raise things up and give you some natural foliage to work with.


I think that might be far far more healthy and safe for you and give you the option to use a seat, monopod, table and other supports. Stress and strain won't just hurt you, it can also fatigue you much faster and distract you and that can harm your photography. So I'd say start out by finding ways to make things a lot easier for you.

Heck when I setup a moth trap I'll often bring the trap inside in the morning and set it up on a table so that everything is a LOT easier than messing around on the ground.
 
AF systems today are much improved from what they were, and higher end cameras can do a much more viable job of AF for macro work than older cameras; but its still a challenge for them and manual focusing is often easier.

That said honestly it sounds like with your condition you want to consider alternative approaches. Instead of getting down with the bugs, get them up to your level. There are many large flowering plants (bushes, roses, buddleia and the like) that will have a host of insects settling on them to warm in the morning sun or to feed. Try to get out early or late in the day - midday and hot spots of the day and insects will be very active and hyper aware; the cooler parts of the day far less so and easier to photograph.

If you've space of your own then you can setup lures such as wineropes for moths; or sugar deposits (small - don't use honey since it will poison bees from different hives). Even just potted plants on a tabletop can help raise things up and give you some natural foliage to work with.


I think that might be far far more healthy and safe for you and give you the option to use a seat, monopod, table and other supports. Stress and strain won't just hurt you, it can also fatigue you much faster and distract you and that can harm your photography. So I'd say start out by finding ways to make things a lot easier for you.

Heck when I setup a moth trap I'll often bring the trap inside in the morning and set it up on a table so that everything is a LOT easier than messing around on the ground.
This is all great advice. Most I haven't thought of. I have a decent amount of greenery in my yard but not much seems to attract insects. Of course I may not be seeing what's there with an untrained eye.

Your right about getting fatigued. I really have to pace myself. I really appreciate your suggestions and will definitely use them. I'll be getting some potted flowers to set up and see what they attract and I'll share my results.

Thank you
 
It wouldn't but with my condition it's difficult to keep a steady stance. I have severe bone loss in my pelvis. It's enough that there is not enough bone to support a hip replacement.
My apologies - I mistakenly assumed you mentioned autofocus for a reason.
 
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Sorry to hear about your hip issues, hope you're doing OK.

There's some great advice here already and I'm sure you can still get some bug pics off the back of the help here. As @denum mentioned, you can always look at non bug macro shots to keep you busy. There's a whole group on flickr dedicated to this that might help to inspire.....

 
Autofocus vs Eyes?
It's struck me recently that although I'm a 'manual focus kinda guy', that actually in many situations, I just can't trust my old eyes! -Too long in the tooth... Autofocus to the rescue!
 
My apologies - I mistakenly assumed you mentioned autofocus for a reason.
No apologies needed. You asked a legitimate question. I wasn't clear on why I asked the question in the first place. The condition developed when I was in my 50's and changed the whole direction of my life going into retirement now that I'm in my 60's.
 
Sorry to hear about your hip issues, hope you're doing OK.

There's some great advice here already and I'm sure you can still get some bug pics off the back of the help here. As @denum mentioned, you can always look at non bug macro shots to keep you busy. There's a whole group on flickr dedicated to this that might help to inspire.....

I do have plenty of subjects to photograph in the house. I'm a longtime coin collector and plan to catalog my collection. I'll be posting pictures here. I have a couple already. Not perfect but I'm learning.
Charles the Bald.jpg
 
Focus looks good on those, but I’d suggest a ring flash or diffusers on a regular flash and some white cards to bounce the off.
 

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