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flash units for macrophotography including ring flashes and twin flashes


  • these flash units are mainly designed for macrophotography and thus power output is generally quite low at about GN 11m ISO 100
  • ring flashes are designed to give circumferential even and thus “shadowless” lighting
    • great for subjects where you wish to emphasise colour variances rather than texture, shape and form
    • can be useful as fill-in flash for portraiture BUT may cause red eye efefct unless under-exposed by about 2 stops
    • generally do not give ring-light catchlights in portraiture as the rings are not large enough
  • twin flashes are designed to provide main light to one side and fill-in light to the other side by virtue of the ratio output option
    • usually need diffusers to avoid harsh lighting
    • more useful for subjects where texture and form is more important than colour
  • new LED lights allow continuous lighting for video work
  • the Metz 15 MS-1 is a very handy slave unit which unlike most other units does not occupy the hotshoe and thus allows use with remote TTL flash units mounted on-camera if so desired.

true macro ring TTL flashes

  • these are too small to give ring catchlights in portraiture shots but instead are designed to give shadowless, evenly lit macro shots
  • very useful for dental photography
  • they are also quite useful as shadowless fill-in flash for portraiture
  • unfortunately true ring flashes as opposed to two twin strobes mounted in a ring are now quite rare

Olympus Ring flash SRF-11

  • a nice simple ring flash, which unlike the Canon version is full circumferential, but annoyingly, it only fits certain lenses as it does not use filter threads to attach.
  • large, heavy, hotshoe mounted control unit
  • no Super FP mode
  • no remote TTL mode but is easy to use in either TTL or manual modes
  • unlike most other units, output can be changed in 1/3rd EV increments instead of 1EV increments - fantastic for macro work
  • main controller can be used for the twin macro flash as well which unlike most other units will save you space, weight and money
  • internal diameter of ring is 70mm (much larger than the Canon MR-14EX which is 57mm and thus cannot be used with many lenses)
  • fits the ZD 14-54mm lens
  • designed for the first version of the ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 lens but does not attach to the new SWD version
  • requires the FR-1 clip on adapter to use on the ZD 50mm f/2.0 macro – but adapter is so nice, I use it as a lens hood on the lens all the time!
  • Olympus FR-2 adapter allows attachment to 46mm filter threads such as on the Olympus m.ZD 60mm f/2.8 macro lens, and of course you can use step up and step down rings for other lens sizes
  • hopefully Olympus will make an adapter for 58mm filter threads

Olympus OM T8 Ring Flash 2

  • designed for the Olympus OM film camera system in the 1980's
  • TTL mode only works on Olympus OM cameras
  • auto and manual modes (GN 10-26 ISO 100m) via the hot-shoe mounted T Power Control 1
  • unique design as ring flash does not face subject but is designed to be used with either Reflector 1 or Reflector 2
  • optional 6V Power Pack 2
  • filter thread adapters for 49mm and 55mm lenses

Olympus OM T10 Ring Flash

  • designed for the Olympus OM film camera system in 1980
  • TTL mode only works on Olympus OM cameras
  • auto and manual modes (GN 14-28 ISO 100m) via the hot-shoe mounted T Power Control 1
  • sync voltage appears to be around 7V so should be fine for dSLR cameras (need a conversion hotshoe to prevent TTL contacts being accessible)
  • optional RING CROSS FILTER POL which attaches to the front of the ring flash and reduces reflected highlights on the subject but you do lose 3-6 stops of light output
    • cannot be used with OM Auto Macro 20mm f/2 or OM Auto Macro 38mm f/2.8 lenses as they would protrude through the ring flash
  • optional 6V Power Pack 2
  • filter thread adapters for 49mm and 55mm lenses

Vivitar DF-586 Dedicated Macro Ring Flash

  • Nikon i-TTL version
  • large, heavy, hotshoe mounted control unit
  • GN 18m (ISO 100)
  • rings to attach to lenses with 52, 55, 58, 62, and 67mm threads
  • very affordable at just around $US100

pseudo macro ring TTL flashes

  • these have two strobes mounted within a ring mount but do not gove circumferential even lighting

Metz 15MS-1 digital macro "ring" flash

  • supports IR remote TTL of Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Four Thirds, Micro Four Thirds (requires firmware v3 or higher), and Sony
  • wireless manual exposure mode with “learning” capability to ignore on-camera pre-flashes
    • manual mode the total output can be set to from full power to 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32 or 1/64th full power
  • clip on plastic diffuser
  • 2 x AAA batteries
  • one of the lightest “ring flashes”
  • each flash unit is able to be angled by 20deg within the ring frame and variable output from each flash via the ratio setting
  • modeling light
  • AF assist light
  • adapters to fit lens filter threads of 52mm, 55mm and 58mm;
  • adapter rings in the sizes 62, 67 and 72 mm are optionally available
  • comes with a on-camera flash IR pass clip to prevent that flash causing shadows on macro subjects
  • PC sync outlet
  • USB port for firmware updates
  • GN 15m ISO 100
  • only weighs 190g excl. batteries
  • standard 1/4-20 tripod socket on the bottom for tripod mounting
  • generally sells for $US399
  • it's size, weight and ring adapter sizes make it well suited to Micro Four Thirds, and as a fill in flash, it is to be preferred over the Olympus Ring Flash, as it is lighter, does not occupy the hotshoe and thus you can still use remote TTL flashes as your main and kicker flashes.
  • issues:
    • lighting from above with the flash diffuser on is still quite harsh for macro work
    • angle of flash is limited to 50mm focal length lenses on APS-C cameras
    • requires latest firmware to work with Micro Four Thirds

Canon macro Ring Lite MR-14EX

  • $A1150 ($A749 new Ebay)
  • attaches to the EF 100mm F2.8 Macro USM, EF 50mm f2.5 compact macro, MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x and also the EF 180mm f3.5L Macro USM (with adapter ring 72C)
  • GN 14;
  • internal diameter only 57mm hence cannot be used on larger lenses!
  • the ring has separate left and right flash tubes, and the light level can be set independently for each up to a 6-stop range. This permits creating modelled lighting effects.
  • it has incandescent modelling lights built-in activated by pressing DOF preview button
  • This unit can act as either a wireless slave or a master flash in a multi-flash system.
  • E-TTL but not E-TTL II.

Sigma EM-140DG Macro Ring Flash

  • Canon, Nikon or Sigma versions but wireless TTL requires a Sigma master flash!
  • will ONLY fire on designated cameras, thus the Canon version will NOT fire on an Olympus camera even in manual mode even though contacts are similar
  • dual flash tubes down to 1/64th intensity control; GN 14m; modelling light; high-speed syncro function; exposure compensation;
  • wireless TTL to control a Sigma EF-500 flash unit via cord to hotshoe-mounted controller unit
  • lens adapters for 55mm, 58mm included with optional 52mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm & 77mm
  • 4xAA batteries; 430g;

twin strobe macro TTL flashes

Olympus STF-8 Macro Twin Flash

Olympus Twin flash TF-22

  • uses the same control unit as the Olympus Ring flash SRF-11, and unlike the Canon equivalent, comes with diffusers which are essential for this style of photography.
  • uses same lens adapters as the SRF-11 ring flash (se above)

Olympus MAL-1 Macro Arm Light

Canon macro Twin Lite MT-24EX

  • $A1600
  • attaches via 58mm filter thread (and optional 72C adapter for 72mm filter threads such as the EF 180mm macro)
  • wireless control of another flash for background lighting by assigning it as a slave in Group C (Groups A & B are reserved for the twin flashes).
  • E-TTL but not E-TTL II.
  • Each head also features a focusing lamp, activated from the control unit, for situations in which you need just a bit more light to pull critical focus.
  • The depth-of-focus check button (on the 1D Mark II and 10D) activates a modelling flash burst from the heads (as it does with the 550EX) to enable you to check your shadows and ratio.

Nikon R1C1 Wireless Close-up Speedlight System:

  • includes 2 x Nikon SB-R200 twin lights:
    • can be tilted up to 60deg towards lens & 45deg away from lens
    • 6sec recycling time; white LED target light;
    • 3V CR123A lithium battery;
  • includes Nikon SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander
    • infrared to 20m for SB-800, SB-600 flashes & 4m for SB-R200
    • i-TTL flash ratio control
    • AF assist illuminator
    • 3V CR123A lithium battery; 160g;
  • optional:
    • Nikon SX-1 Master Attachment:
      • accommodates up to 8 x SB-R200 lights off camera or 4 on camera
    • Nikon SY-1 Lens adapter rings:
      • available for 52mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm filter threads
    • Nikon SW-C1 Flexible Arm Clip
    • Nikon SW-11 Extreme Closeup Positioning Adapter
    • Nikon SW-12 diffuser
    • Nikon AS-20 speedlight stands
    • Nikon SJ-2 Color filter set

Nikon R1 Wireless Close-up Speedlight System:

  • for cameras with built-in Speedlights with Commander mode: D200, D70s, D70
  • same kit as R1C1 but no SU-800 commander although this can be purchased for control of SB-800/SB-600 flashes.

ring flash modifiers for normal flashes

  • these are large ring shaped units designed to attach to a normal flash such as an Olympus FL50R, Canon 580EXII, etc
  • they can give a reasonably even circumferential shadowless light effect but are cumbersome to use
  • being larger than a normal macro flash they “may” be able to give a ring catchlight for relatively close portraits

Ray Flash adapter

Orbis ring flash adapter

manual only macro flashes

Cokin Creative Ring Flash

  • not a true ring flash but has flash units mounted on each of 3 sides of the “ring”
  • large, heavy
  • slides onto a ring that attaches to the end of your adapter/hood/filter - there is no lock or click to it

Lomography Ring Flash

  • 4 flash units mounted in the ring
  • only 115g
  • slave trigger or PC-sync
  • 4 solid color filter rings

Sunpak GX8R Ringflash

  • Full, Half and Quarter power settings
  • 55, 58, 62mm filter mounts

Vivitar Macroflash 5000 Ring Light

  • manual or auto mode
  • true ring flash

LED ring flashes

  • usual features:
    • continuous light mode - very useful for focus assis and for macro video work
    • “flash” mode - usually gives up to twice the maximum output of continuous mode
    • ratio adjustment
    • works with flash triggers
    • various lens filter thread mount adapters
    • half-press shutter gives AF-assist light
    • most have large hotshoe mounted control units
  • there are now a multitude of these devices for example:
    • Aputure Amaran Halo AHL-C60 Macro Ring FLASH Speedlite
    • Meike LED Macro Ring Flash FC100
    • YONGNUO MR-58 58PCS LED Macro Ring Flash light
photo/macroflash.txt · Last modified: 2017/11/08 19:17 by gary1

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