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Canon SL1 - Canon 100mm Macro - f/11 1/160th with a Canon 270 Flash ISO 100


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What shutter speed is best for getting a good macro shot of a bug?

Naturally there is no perfect answer to that question so before writing this page I did a "Google" to see what others had to say about macro shutter speed. For the most part the answers were written by people that I assume are most likely professional photographers that have never been outside shooting a bug. Don't waste your time reading over highly publicized articles that say nothing. Search for sites that specialize in bugs. Keep in mind this site is based on my experience learning how to do this so everything stated works and there are examples to illustrate it.  For the most part what I read on general macro photography did not apply or work on bugs that move from plant to plant. The goal here is to provide consistency not getting good shots by pure luck.

I did in my search come across all kinds of macro flash setups but no explanation as to why they were needed. Hopefully that section will explain why so many people use them.

Here are some shots and the settings used - they were lucky shots with the settings used.

Macro Shutter Speed Example 1

Handheld at 1/160th at f/10 ISO 400

Macro Shutter Speed Example 2

Handheld at 1/125th at f/9 ISO 400

Macro Shutter Speed Example 3

Blow up of above shot showing the detail on the eyes - decent for handheld without a flash

As stated above these were lucky shots without question. But it is to demonstrate that it can be done. I would not suggest that you use 1/125th of a second with 1:1 magnification and expect to get clear shots. Can it be done yes, I have done it, consistently no. To get real consistency you need to add flash.

The shot above was done with flash and below is a close up of the detail.

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