Best Flash options for Macro

Started May 9, 2012 | Discussions thread
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,792
Re: Best Flash options for Macro
In reply to hello world, May 10, 2012

hello world wrote:

Hi, thanks for the thread, I'd read it already... It just doesn't seem to answer my question about the results to expect from each flash option... there seems to be no clear advantages from one over the other...

The option provided by Kurt with a single flash just won't work for me - a m43 cam & lens are simply too small for it to fit. I already need a 42 to 72mm step up ring, simply to fit the smallest twin flash compatible with my cam, which was made for the 4/3 system.

A bracket will also look a bit odd I'm afraid, those are made for the much larger FF systems.

I should point out that I've a owned a 4/3 system for a long time and I was considering changing more to m4/3 this year. The set-up I described was what I had intending to use with m4/3. Whilst I don't have the PL 45mm, I do have the Olympus ZD 35mm f3.5 and haved used it with a twinflash.

I'm pretty certain that you could use my bracket idea with the PL 45mm. That's why I suggested using a Cokin A filter holder rather than a P sized holder.

If you think the set-up I've described is too large for use with m4/3 then I think you would find the twin flash much too large, and a commecial macro bracket set-up even more cumbersome. The set-up I described is the smallest and lightest you could get.

Anyhow I'll keep searching for some person who can simply point out the differences between external flash + diffuser and twin flash for bug shooting. External seems to be a bit cheaper, but if twin flash is definitely better I'll opt for that. Just I don't know.

The problem with this question is that it is more about how these different flash types are used and set-up, rather than any general qualities of the flashes themselves. Over the years I think I have probably tried more flash set-ups than most including commericial and home made brackets. I've also owned and used a macro twinflash for 5 years or so. What I can say for certain is that it is how these flashes are used and diffused that counts more than the specific type of flash. That is why it is impossible to simply say one is better than the other, because it depends on the set-up, diffusion and how they are used.

Out of the box a twinflash gives competent lighting, but is less than ideal in terms of specular reflections if they are not effectively diffused. As well as the end of lens concave diffusers I have also designed some on flash concave diffusers which work on twin flash heads. You can find some photos of these on my Flickr photostream.

With my end of lens type concave diffuser the twin position of 2 flash heads becomes less important as the wrap-around effect of lighting is increased by the diffusion itself. Without diffusion twin flash heads can provide better wrap-around lighting than a single flash. But diffusion alters this. Twin flashes are best used with both flash heads above the subject and pointing downwards.

In use twin flash macro flashes allow a neater and more easy to adjust arrangement than a larger flash on a bracket. They are also less front heavy. However with an IF lens such as the PL 45mm this is less important. Nevertheless ideally you need to keep the flash above the subject and it is easier to rotate a twinflash bracket than an ordinary flash on a bracket. My bracket idea using a square filter holder is intended to overcome this disadvantage. It is also much lighter than any other bracket.

Overall it depends on what you are looking for. Are you simply looking for a set-up that allows you to easily capture reasonably well lit macro images, or do you want lighting that reduces specular reflections on shiny subjects to a minimum, and gives the best possilbe lighting?

On the subject of stabliity have you tried or used the left hand brace technique? Also a stick or cane can be useful. Use it with this technique.

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