Macro Advice: Tripods & Ringflash

Started Oct 27, 2009 | Discussions thread
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Macro Advice: Tripods & Ringflash
Oct 27, 2009

I've had my Pentax-D FA 2.8 100mm for a couple years now...
I bought my first SLR to take bug photos and the lens was the next step.

As of this month, I am the proud owner of a DSLR (K7) which makes it infinitely easier to get those up-close shots right, but I still feel a longing looking at those beautifully focused, brilliantly colorful macro shots people manage to get of wasps and other insects out in the field.

I don't have a tremendously steady camera hand, and a tripod I can carry with me on hikes seems like a good idea...

I don't want to spend a fortune. It doesn't have to be feather-light, but I am looking for something easy to fix in the right position fast (I'm thinking a ball head) with a minimum of plastic - I really hate plastic.
Any recommendations?

The other thing I was looking at was ring-flashes. My macro-lens is short enough that it doesn't interfere with the built-in flash; how much of an advantage would this give me?

I noticed there are a number of cheap (~$50) ring flashes on ebay that are compatible with Pentax, and I don't think I'm up to spending $500 on the official Pentax ring flash - is it worth looking at the models by Vivitar, Sunpak and O-Flash? I don't seem to be able to find a decent comparison anywhere.

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