Lens Guides

Insect Macro Photography with the Sigma 150mm F2.8 DG Macro Lens

Earlier this year I was lucky to be able escape the winter time temps at home and make a quick getaway to Asia. My stopover is located close to the equator and only has one season, hot and humid, with temps averaging 87 degrees year round with lots of rain. This might sound unpleasant but for insects and plants its just about perfect. The macro photography opportunities in equatorial Asia are almost mind boggling sometimes!

© 2015 Robert O'Toole | Bi-color-damselfly. Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG APO HSM Macro, Nikon D810, manual mode | Shutter speed: 1/200 sec | Aperture: f/11 | ISO 200, single SBR200 flash, flash diffuser, Acratech GP ball head on Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod. 5 image stack.
© 2015 Robert O’Toole | Bi-color-damselfly. Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG APO HSM Macro, Nikon D810, manual mode | Shutter speed: 1/200 sec | Aperture: f/11 | ISO 200, single SBR200 flash, flash diffuser, Acratech GP ball head on Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod. 5 image stack.
© 2015 Robert O'Toole | 100% crop view of the image above.
© 2015 Robert O’Toole | 100% crop view of the image above.

Breezes made these images pretty difficult but the use of flash really helped stop movement and bring out all the sharpness the Sigma 150mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Macro was able to deliver.

© 2015 Robert O'Toole | Adult male Neurothemis fluctuans. Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG APO HSM Macro, Nikon D810, manual mode | Shutter speed: 1/50 sec | Aperture: f/8 | ISO 200, single SBR200 flash, flash diffuser, Acratech GP ball head on Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod. 8 image stack.
© 2015 Robert O’Toole | Adult male Neurothemis fluctuans. Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG APO HSM Macro, Nikon D810, manual mode | Shutter speed: 1/50 sec | Aperture: f/8 | ISO 200, single SBR200 flash, flash diffuser, Acratech GP ball head on Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod. 8 image stack.
© 2015 Robert O'Toole | 100% crop view of the image above.
© 2015 Robert O’Toole | 100% crop view of the image above.

These red drop winged dragonflies are very common all over Asia and they can be very tame and easy to work with. I have seen locations where the air is literally filled with them, hundreds and hundreds, with a dozen or so in just a square foot or so of space.

© 2015 Robert O'Toole | Common Bluetail damselfly female orange form. Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG APO HSM Macro, Nikon D810, manual mode | Shutter speed 1/160 sec | Aperture: f/8 | ISO 200, single SBR200 flash, flash diffuser, Acratech GP ball head on Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod. 3 image stack.
© 2015 Robert O’Toole | Common Bluetail damselfly female orange form. Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG APO HSM Macro, Nikon D810, manual mode | Shutter speed 1/160 sec | Aperture: f/8 | ISO 200, single SBR200 flash, flash diffuser, Acratech GP ball head on Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod. 3 image stack.
© 2015 Robert O'Toole | 100% crop view of the image above.
© 2015 Robert O’Toole | 100% crop view of the image above.
© 2015 Robert O'Toole | Another 100% crop view.
© 2015 Robert O’Toole | Another 100% crop view.

The combination of 36 MP sensor body and a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX Macro lens used in this post can deliver breathtaking almost unbelievably sharp and detailed results. I prefer the 150mm focal length over the 70mm and 105mm macro lenses when working with dragonflies and damselflies. Backgrounds are smoother and the increased focal length makes working with reflectors and diffused flash very easy in the field.

© 2015 Robert O'Toole | Stoliczka's Crab Spider on a jasmine flower. Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG APO HSM Macro, Nikon D810, manual mode | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec | Aperture: f/8 | ISO 200, single SBR200 flash, flash diffuser, Acratech GP ball head on Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod.
© 2015 Robert O’Toole | Stoliczka’s Crab Spider on a jasmine flower. Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG APO HSM Macro, Nikon D810, manual mode | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec | Aperture: f/8 | ISO 200, single SBR200 flash, flash diffuser, Acratech GP ball head on Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod.
© 2015 Robert O'Toole | Backlit dragonfly. Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG APO HSM Macro, Nikon D810, manual mode | Shutter speed: 1/400 sec | Aperture: f/8 | ISO 200, Acratech GP ball head on Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod.
© 2015 Robert O’Toole | Backlit dragonfly. Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG APO HSM Macro, Nikon D810, manual mode | Shutter speed: 1/400 sec | Aperture: f/8 | ISO 200, Acratech GP ball head on Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod.

If you have any questions or comments be sure to share ’em in the comments section below.

About the Author

Robert O’Toole is a Sigma Pro and has been a professional photographer for more than 20 years. As an accomplished instructor, Robert leads photography workshop tours across the US and internationally. For more info visit Robert’s web site at robertotoolephotography.com

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