Canon R7 – Butterflies are not Animals!

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It is still a hot and humid summer in New York, so I was looking for something different to photograph with the Canon R7. 

There are a few places in New York that have butterfly exhibits.  The smaller ones have just as many photo ops as the bigger ones but without the crowds.  For example, on Long Island, there is a small nature preserve in Smithtown called Sweetbriar Nature Center.  Every summer, they have a wonderful Butterfly House.  I was there for about an hour and had a great time with the R7 and the Canon RF 70-200mm L F/4.  The one issue I discovered was that the Canon R7 does not think butterflies are animals.

Kidding aside, I did have the camera’s focus set for Subject Detection with Animals Eye Tracking.  The butterflies really did confuse the camera.  Are the spots the eyes?  Are the eyes on the wings or the body?  Once it dawned on me, I just turned it off.  I still captured great shots even with the Animal mode engaged.

Some butterfly tips – you are shooting a small subject with great magnification.  Macro rules apply.  Large apertures will cause a shallow depth of field.  Some people love the shallow focus effect while others want the enter butterfly in focus.  Both are valid and are fun to shoot.  If you want as much of the butterfly in focus, start with F/5.6 and go smaller to F/8.  Watch your shutter speed and the ISO to compensate for the smaller aperture… or just shoot in Aperture Priority and let the camera do the hard work.

You can also try image stacking, but butterflies move very erratically, especially when they are feeding….which is all the time.  They move their wings and will eventually move on to their next spot.  Not ideal for capturing a series of photos to stack.

The trick – watch the butterfly wings and where they are pointing.  Wings that are perpendicular to the camera will be a flat plane and look in focus.  Wings at any other angle to the camera will drift out of focus.  Either way, focus on the composition and have fun!

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