Macro Lighting Options

As many of my readers are aware, I like to do macro photography. This tends to be an interesting lighting situation to stabilize, since macro needs a really narrow aperture for the wide depth of field required to focus something so physically close to the lens. In most difficult situations for photography, the first line of defense is a flash of some type, whether it be a light box, on-camera flash, or remote flash system. The problem with this is that all of these methods can be interfered with too easily, and some (such as remote and light box) are hard to move around for fast-moving subjects. One of the best solutions developed for this problem was the ring-flash, a simple flash unit that attaches to the front of the lens. If you recall from a previous post, regarding flash, having flash and lens on the same plane can cause red eye and other problems. It is also a very direct, which depending on subject, distance and reflections, can be very harsh. Another flaw I found out about earlier today is that some lower end models have short lifespans, 100-200 flashes maximum. Not a very long-lasting device (especially at $150), considering I will sometimes shoot 500 or more exposures in a day. Originally I considered one of these flashes , but have now changed my mind. Another option for macro lighting is a different type of on-lens lighting system, such as Nikon’s R1 close up lighting system. The lights move with the camera, has a separation from camera and subject (which is adjustable, unlike ring-flashes) and can be used to command other flash units (such as a subordinate SB-600).

As a result of the absolutely crappy performance of the low-end ring flashes, and the expense of the Nikon R1 system (and the fact it is only compatible with Nikon cameras that have full CLS support), I will be waiting before obtaining a flash unit for macro and close up shots.