Macro Settings

Another very good question that I am often asked is “What settings do you use for your marco images?”.


Well let us start with a list of the equipment used. For all of my true macro images I use my trusty Nikon D700 ( for reasons stated in a previous blog on mega pixels), and lens of choice is always the Nikkor 200mm f4 micro, I always use a tripod some people do hand hold for macro shots but as I use very small apertures it is just not possible coupled with the fact the 200mm micro is so heavy, one last thing I think that is important is to use some form of remote shutter release, wether it be cabled or wireles does not matter.

Right onto the camera settings.

First off the ISO. I always try to use a the lowest I feel I can get away with, If it is reasonably bright this will be ISO 200 but due to taking most of the Butterfly images being taken late in the evening it is more often at 400, if the light has almost gone and there is a slight breeze I have been known to push it to 1600.

With my kind of marco work the subjects are quite often fairly still (apart from blowing in the wind) and for this reason I am not at all concerned with the shutter speed,  this is also where the tripod comes into play, more often than not I do not even look at what the shutter speed is. The camera is alway left in Aperture Priority mode. My main concern is depth of  Field, what parts of the image are in focus from front to back and only 2 things really effect this, first being distance from the subject, the closer your the less depth of field you have (lens lenght does also come into it but as I use the same lens all the time I do not count that) and I like to get as close as I can to the subject (without them flying off that is). The next thing is the Aperture. The larger (f4) it is the less depth of field and the smaller (f32) the greater the depth of field, I have set my camera up so that this can be changed without taking my eye from the viewfinder, Nearly all my Butterfly images are shot at around the f22 mark, it does depend on the background to some extent, at this aperture on my equipment I get a maximum depth of field of no more than 5mm, meaning on some images one of the antenna is not quite in focus.

The Exposure setting I use is nearly always centre weighted, due to wanting the subject correctly exposed. The lens is set to manual focus but the camera is still set to auto with single spot selected, this means I still get a focus confirmation light, I can also move that spot around the viewfinder so that it is placed on the most important part of the subject, which should be the eyes.

Hope this is of help, any questions get in touch.

© Ian Hutchinson 2017