My wife wanted to go out today to buy a few annuals for some of the flower gardens around the house. Naturally I thought this would be a great opportunity to capture some quick images of flowers and I volunteered to go with her. I know…I know…typical husband with an ulterior motive! I grabbed one of my Nikon 1 J5’s, popped on a 21mm MOVO extension tube and the 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 lens, and we headed out to a few of the area nurseries.
This combination of gear is my absolute favourite when it comes to taking macro-type images of flowers and insects. As regular readers know, I only use a tripod or monopod when I absolutely have to as I much prefer shooting hand-held. The small size, light weight, and accurate focusing of the J5/21mm MOVO tube/30-110mm lens set-up makes for a killer combination.
I’ve always loved the speed and accuracy of the auto-focusing system on my Nikon 1 V2’s with their 135 individual AF points. The J5 has increased this up to 171 AF points which allows for even more precise focusing for this kind of photography. When capturing images of flowers this allows a single AF point to be placed precisely on a specific part of the flower.
Going to a nursery is to be overwhelmed with flowers. The sheer number and variety of specimens available to photograph calls for some discernment. While I did shoot a number of flowers head on, I looked for more interesting angles where I could place the main subject in less obvious portions of the frame. Amid all of the clutter caused by the flowers being crowded together on display shelves I tried to find unobstructed backgrounds where possible.
I’ve only had my Nikon 1 J5 for a couple of weeks and I’m still getting used to the nuances of the camera. The fact that the J5 doesn’t have an EVF is a non-issue for flower photography as I always composed images of this subject matter using the rear screen with my V2’s in the past.
The tilt rear screen on the Nikon 1 j5 comes in very handy when shooting in bright conditions as it can be angled to help reduce glare.
There were a few occasions when I couldn’t see quite as well as I would have liked when trying to frame a particular image. This is to be expected when one buys a camera without an EVF. Overall, I was able to get the exact framing that I wanted most of the time and the majority of images in this article have not been cropped at all.
Using extension tubes with Nikon 1 gear is pretty simple. I use the lens zoom control to get my subject in basic focus, position a single AF point precisely where I want it on the subject, then let the J5’s auto-focusing zero right in on it for me as I depress the shutter.
I decided to commit a bit of heresy today by using f8 and even f/11 for some of my image captures, risking some diffraction with the small CX sensor in the J5 in order to get the desired depth of field.
While the images in this article would only be considered as ‘fun’ photographs they do demonstrate that folks don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on camera gear to get some decent flower images when shooting hand-held under available light.
In the USA my Nikon 1 J5 (with a 10-30mm PD kit lens) sells for about $500. The 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 VR lens is about $250, and a set of 3 MOVO extension tubes is about $50. In total not an inconsequential amount of money for many folks, but still reasonably affordable.
Small, lightweight, fun and pretty affordable works for me. I’ve been enjoying shooting with my new Nikon 1 J5 so much that I bought a second one last week. The pair of J5’s will be my main cameras for landscape photography as well as for other still photography subject matter like flowers, architecture, and general travel. My trio of Nikon 1 V2’s will still be the workhorses of my video business, and will also be my ‘go to’ cameras for any kind of action photography since they have EVF’s.
Technical Note: All of the images in this article were captured hand-held in available light using a Nikon 1 J5, a 21mm MOVO extension tube, and 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 zoom lens. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard workflow of DxO OpticsPro 10, CS6 and Nik Suite.
Article and all images are Copyright 2016 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, adaptation, or reproduction of any kind is allowed without written consent. Photography Life is the only approved user of this article and if you see it reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use.
Thank you Thomas for your wonderful photos.
Glad you enjoyed them Jorge!
They are beautiful. On the Nikon J1, you can change lenses?
Can you put a link of the things you used, please?
All Nikon 1 cameras have interchangeable lenses. I captured the images in this article with a Nikon 1 J5 camera.
Nikon 1 J5, 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 lens, and MOVO extension tubes for Nikon 1: www.movophoto.com/produ…etal-mount
Great to see you enjoy your new camera so much. Your articles are always great.
The GAS also got me again and I got my first DSLM for the next holiday. Can’t wait to try it out extensively.
Thanks Tobias! I hope you also enjoy your new camera!
Thank you for posting such really nice and inspiring pictures! Based on your previous post I also tried to make some experiments with my Nikon 1 J5. Recently I tried J5 + FT1 +VR 105mm f/2.8G to capture some images in my garden. For me it was great fun, and the results were surprisingly good. See, e.g. www.flickr.com/photo…288067891/
Thanks for sharing your beautiful flower image! When I still owned full frame gear I tried using the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 with one of my V2’s and FT-1 adapter. For whatever reason I found that the lens hunted like crazy to find focus and I never really got the results I wanted with the combination. You are certainly doing a better job than I did with that combination!
thank you! Yes, I fully agree, it is much more difficult to focus with FT1.
I am looking to see more posts from you in future.
I’m here on Photography Life as often as my schedule permits. If you would like to see more of my work on a more frequent basis you can visit my blog.
Wow! Beautiful pictures. Has certainly given me inspiration to photograph flowers which I can honestly say has never been on my “must do” list.)!
Flowers were never high on my list either…but once I started photographing a few (especially macro-type images) I began to really enjoy it.
As always, great pictures. Thanks for sharing your work. I think i have to save some money to add a Nikon 1 to my gear set. Potentially the J5 could replace my Coolpix A…
Thanks for the positive comment – much appreciated! The J5 is a nice little camera…and affordable which is always nice!
More beautiful shots. I took your suggestion and used my extension tubes on a few flower photos. I too work handheld for this type of shooting. More practice is necessary and I take a lot of shots due to wind and my shaky hands but it is worthwhile. I am using Vello extension tubes and the 30-110 lens on my J5. This setup works quite well. Keep up the beautiful work and keep sharing!
Glad you liked the images Joe! In breezy conditions it is always a good idea to increase your shutter speed to allow for subject movement.
Thank you for posting this! I just recently re-kickstarted interest in my N1 gear with an almost unused V2 (replacing my V1) and am having a blast – the V2 is much closer to what should have been offered to start. I haven’t done a lot of macro work with my full sized Nikons, but this looks like fun; I think I’m going to order a set of those extension tubes and give it a spin with my 30-110.
The 30-110mm is my favourite Nikon 1 lens to use with extension tubes. Be sure to buy tubes with metal mounts as I’ve found that less expensive plastic mount tubes are not very durable. The plastic flanges are prone to cracking and breaking.
I noticed that not all of the available extension tubes had metal mounts, so I was sure to order the same MOVOs you use. :-)
Great photos! Do you know what magnification can you achieve with that convination?
Thanks for the positive comment! I did some testing and arrived in some approximate values which are noted in an article I wrote that is on my blog: tomstirrphotography.com/using…th-nikon-1. There is a chart in the article that has various estimates based on whether the Nikon 1 30-110mm or Nikon 1 CX 70-300mm lens was used with the tubes. Also, the chart contains magnification effect %’s based on various combinations of tubes. My best estimate is that the 21mm tube produces a maximum of 300% magnification with the Nikon 1 30-110mm lens.
One problem I encounter (same rig, except V1 instead of J5) is dealing with breezes/wind moving the subject (really a general issue for any macro photography).
I usually use continuous focus to help. Do you have additional insights?
Using AF-C is one solution when using the centre point of a flower as the focus point. Since I seldom do that I usually deal with wind by adjusting my shutter speed and letting the ISO float higher. If that creates any issues with additional noise I deal with it with the PRIME function in DxO OpticsPro 10 Elite in post. Something else that I do from time to time is use a wide-brimmed hat to shield the subject flower from the breeze with one hand, and shoot my Nikon 1 gear with the other.