Many professionals specialize in wild animal photography, yet not many extend their interest to insects. Thousands of good pictures feature large animals in the wild, like deer or giraffes, but there are few quality photos of relatively common species of insects — let alone rare ones. The immense variety of insects, their complex behavior, their appearance both beautiful and bizarre, surely make them great photographic subjects — so why do they receive such poor attention?
I believe this is partially due to the fact that while the basic principles of animal photography can be applied to insects, there is a significant difference in methodology. Insect photography not only requires much dedication and technical knowledge, but also specialized photographic equipment. One cannot make a great photo of a small living creature with a camera configured for other purposes — and vice versa; once the camera is made suitable for shooting live insects, it usually cannot be used for any photographic task except shooting insects without significant reconfiguration.
With traditional optical systems such as digital cameras, the laws of physics do not allow a sufficiently small object to be fully in focus while retaining high resolution at the same time. In macro, the depth of of field (DOF) is usually too thin to make a good photograph, and the aperture must be closed down. When the aperture becomes sufficiently small, optical diffraction starts to affect resolution. The diffraction takes its toll regardless of camera type, lens focal length, sensor density or other such characteristics, because different physical factors contributing to it tend to compensate each other. The subject’s color — more precisely, the length of dominant light waves it reflects into the camera— does matter, if only a little. A photographer who wants to minimize the effect of diffraction at high apertures may choose to shoot only blue-colored insects and ignore the rest. (Obviously, for most photographers this is hardly an option).