Side Note: I have seen where the obsession to win at all costs can lead you to. The place is quite ugly. Believe me, the true winner is the winner that wins everyone's heart.
I have had numerous comments on my 35mm macro lens, which I have used extensively since my purchase not too long ago. I receive mostly positive remarks, but along with them I have one constant comment that kept popping out from many people, repeatedly. I was sternly told that 35mm is just too short to be of any use in macro. I boldly responded that the working range was quite alright, and I was comfortable shooting at close range, which I have managed to successfully come in close to many of my macro subjects: dragonfly, bees, spiders, ants, etc. Nonetheless, some of them openly and loudly doubted the capability of the lens, and said "How about butterflies? I am sure you cannot go close to butterflies with the 35mm. You need the 105mm or 150mm to shoot butterflies !! Your 35mm is useless".
Having those insensitively blaring sentences burned into my head, I woke up with one mission this morning. I was going to prove those people who looked down on my humble budget 35mm F3.5 macro lens WRONG.
Therefore, yet another trip to the Butterfly Park was made. I know I have been there probably 4 times before, but this was my first time shooting butterflies with the 35mm. I did not exactly wanted to do it in the first place, since I have had enough with butterflies already, but I guess I got to do what I got to do when I got provoked, and this would probably be the only solution to tell the world that, look, the 35mm is in fact USEABLE.
I started shooting with the tele lens, which I could manage some decent shots which were not exactly macro at all. I could not get close enough, but for large butterflies it was sufficient to nail the task. After 30 minutes or so, I switched to the macro lens, and getting in really close to the butterflies.
I had to get as close at 10-15 cm away from the butterflies to fill the frame. I could get in even closer and have higher magnification, but I believe closing in so much would defeat the purpose of photographing the butterflies. The one significant aspect of the butterfly is the colorful wings, and to fit the whole thing into the frame, there is no need for that full 1:1 macro magnification anyway. Hence I call those shots half macros.
How did I get that close without the butterflies flying away? Not exactly so easy, but I move in closer and closer real slowly, and once I reached my desired shooting distance, I clicked the shutter like there is no tomorrow. I minimized movements, meaning while I was closing into the butterflies, I do not adjust the camera settings, I do not press any buttons, or twist the manual focus ring of the lens. No sudden movements, just fluid, smooth super slow motion, moving closer and closer to the butterflies.
I used a very simple camera setup for this session. I mounted the external flash unit with the ciplak stofen omnibounce diffuser, and being set to TTL. I used Aperture Priority as opposed to my usual full manual operation, so I do not have to fine tune the exposure and left the task to the camera. I relied on the Autofocus, instead of my usual full-time manual focus. The Autofocus worked well enough, though a little to the slow side hunting for focus sometimes. I did all of the mentioned above to minimize movements, mitigating the need to press any button or do any adjustments while hunting the butterfly. You will be surprised how well this worked !!
I know there may be nothing much to shout about seeing those pictures I have taken on this session. There could have been lots of improvements in terms of lighting control and composition, but heck that was not the main objective of this session. Nonetheless, my point is strongly proven: Yes, I can shoot decent butterfly shots with my 35mm. And for a budget lens, there is nothing more I can expect it to do for me.
So yeah, stop complaining about my lens already, I am happy with it, and thats all that matters.