I don’t set out on a photo hike with a plan to shoot butterflies. I’m chasing birds and other wildlife. But if I encounter a butterfly in the right spot (on a plant close enough to get a good shot and with an uncluttered background that allows the butterfly to stand out), I’ll get the shot. That’s why almost all of the butterfly photos in my files were captured using the Canon EF 600mm f/4L telephoto lens I carry when I’m photographing wildlife. It’s a massive lens, almost 18 inches long and weighing about nine pounds, and it works very well when photographing birds. But if I run across a butterfly in an interesting setting while I’m shooting wildlife I’ll go ahead and get the shot.
It may seem like overkill using that massive lens when capturing a “macro” or close-up of a butterfly, but it works very well. I can get the shot from 15 feet away without disturbing the butterfly.