Tamron 18-400mm Full Resolution Butterfly

I took this digital photograph of an Painted Lady butterfly recently in Chester New Jersey.  Click on the picture to download or view the high resolution original.  Zoom in to view the sharpness from the new Tamron 18-400mm ultra-telephoto all-in-one lens.

Tamron 18-400mm Sharpness

Tamron 18-400mm Macro Sample Image of an Painted Lady Butterfly. Straight Out Of Camera.

The Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 DI-II VC HLD all-in-one lens was handheld in conjunction with the Canon SL2 Digital Rebel.  I am extremely impressed by the fine detail resolved in this SOOC (straight out of camera) shot.  The tiny hairs by the butterfly eyes are very well defined.  I also like the pleasing bokeh of background flowers.

100% crop from above SOOC photograph

Tamron 18-400mm macro photography

Tamron 18-400mm VC 100% Crop SOOC. Handheld at 400mm F/9 on Canon SL2. Photo by Dave Blinder

Exposure settings:

Tamron 18-400mm VC @ 400mm, Autofocus On, Vibration Compensation On

Canon SL2 in Aperture Priority Mode +2/3 exposure, AI Servo Focus

1/800 F9 ISO 800


Purchase the new Tamron 18-400mm from Amazon using my affiliate links  (help support my blog)

Tamron 18-400mm for Canon – http://amzn.to/2xvjzbX

Tamron 18-400mm for Nikon – http://amzn.to/2xPqXj9

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Digital SLR Camera Body Only – http://amzn.to/2xBsFU8


Do you have any questions about the lens, camera, or photograph?  Any more sample images you’d like to see?  Let me know.

A Florida butterfly and some words in photo image quality

A friend on Facebook asked for details of the shot so I wrote out a bit of my technique and criteria for detail photos of butterflies.  Note that for an abstract capture, these ideas can go right out the window!

Florida butterfly photograph

#Florida nature #photo of a Zebra Heliconian butterfly. Taken with the tripod-mounted #Tamron SP 150-600mm VC lens and the Canon EOS 60D DSLR.

Question I was posed:

“Was this shot using a tripod?? so clear.. somehow i need to work on that. mine are almost never this sharp..”

My response(s), hopefully helpful:

Dave BlinderYep, 1/200th F/8 ISO 400, Vibration Compensation (IS), carbon fiber tripod. Sharp butterfly shots not possible near 600mm without tripod. When I shoot butterflies with my 90mm macro lens I do 75% handheld. Average time I spend photographing an individual butterfly is anywhere between 5mins and 1.5hrs. I don’t leave until I verify I have the eye perfectly in focus on the LCD.”

If the butterfly’s eye is not in sharp focus I do not post the photo online.

Same technique for dragonflies. Nearly identical for birds, but if the bird is distant and I don’t think I can fill 20% or more of the frame I skip the shot. My definition of a sharp eye is viewing the texture on the surface of the subject’s eye nearest the camera.

Exposing for backlit photography subjects: Orange Sulphur

I am generally a fan of semi-automatic exposure systems when looking to photograph wildlife.  Specifically, I begin most outings with the camera in Aperture Priority Mode, and having an extra 2/3 stops of lights dialed seems to work pretty often.  However, as soon as I see a tricky lighting situation through my viewfinder I will try to get into Manual Exposure Mode as quickly as possible.

NJ Wildlife Photo

A macro photograph of an Orange Sulphur butterfly in New Jersey. This backlit capture was made using the Tamron SP 90mm VC 1:1 macro lens and the Canon EOS 60D DSLR.

Camera settings: 1/200th F/5.6 ISO 200

Above photo is a handheld capture with one of my typical rigs for closeup photography, the Tamron SP 90mm VC lens and the Canon EOS 60D.  The goal with this backlit photo was to get a good amount of illumination showing on the butterfly itself.  To achieve this, some of the brightest parts of the scene are pushed out of gamut because of the dynamic range restrictions of DSLRs.  As cameras are programmed to expose for the median tonal range of an image, it would require a significant increase in exposure compensation to get what I was after.  Turning the knob to Manual Mode and dialing in my desired settings was a much more succinct process.

“Blowing out the highlights” is not always a sin in my book, as I’ve learned to “see how a camera sees” and envision the end product.  Indeed there is some detail loss on the fringes of the butterfly and also on the petals of the flower, but in this case I think that adds to the “warm” feel of the image.

Butterfly Photography: An American Copper

Several of our local species of butterflies like to rest on whatever flat surface they can find.  I often see butterflies in the middle of dirt trails, dirt roads, and gravel roads.  Probably a nice place to bask for a cold-blooded life form, but not necessarily the ideal scene for a photograph.

Lycaena phlaeas

A closeup view of a small and interestingly marked native butterfly of New Jersey.

DSLR photo of an American Copper butterfly using the Tamron SP 90mm VC 1:1 F/2.8 Macro Lens and the Canon EOS 50 DSLR.  Camera settings in Manual Exposure Mode: Shutter at 1/50th Aperture at F/5.6 and ISO 200.  Autowhite Balance is selected (my typical default), RAW file size, One Shot focusing in Continuous Drive Mode.  VC (in-lens stabilization) On.

This dainty insect is actually sitting on an unattractive dirt trail here, but the camera’s angle of view disguises the surroundings.  To get this view I am lying prone on the ground (a very common posture for good wildlife photographs) and the camera is pressed to my face.  I will often fill the frame as much as possible while trying not to have the subject looked too cramped within the image frame.  I did have to angle the Canon 50D slightly downward to keep the butterfly’s legs in the photo.

Using the “focus and recompose” technique, I pressed the shutter halfway down after initiating autofocus directly on the butterfly’s eye, and then I angled the camera until the lens hood of my macro lens was touching the ground, but the camera body was not.  This low and close-focused perspective has disguised the fact that myself and the butterfly are surrounded by a trail of non-photogenic packed dirt.

Butterfly Photography: Sachem Skippers on Boneset

Closeup photos of butterflies make for effective images because these insects are inherently “cute” or “beautiful” to us homo sapiens.  Probably has to do with their harmless nature or being harbingers of warm weather.  An important part of a quality butterfly photo is a clear view of the insect generally with minimal distractions in the nearby foreground and background.  An attractive perch also makes a world of difference.

mating butterflies

A recent butterfly macro photograph taken in Ocean County, New Jersey.

The above image was taken recently at Jakes Branch County Park in New Jersey.  Equipment used: Tamron SP 90mm VC F/2.8 1:1 Macro Lens and a Canon EOS 7D DSLR.  Handheld photo with the lens-based stabilization (VC) turned on.  Camera settings: 1/160 shutter, F/7.1 ISO 200.  More often than not I will shoot butterflies with an aperture of F/5.6 because it is one of the sharpest apertures of my particular macro lens.  With sufficient planing of the camera, this can get a decent amount of depth of field on the subject as well.  In this case, I decided to go with an aperture of F/7.1 to increase my chances of getting the eyes of both Sachems in focus.  Still not an easy task with 2 moving wildlife subjects.

I shot approximately 12 frames very similar to this one, but each time I would angle the camera body very slightly to the left or right and try to get the eyes of both Skippers aligned to my focus point.  When I magnify this particular frame on my computer I can see the detailed cells of the eyes on both butterflies without blur, so for me this is a keeper.