Lighting macros

Started Jul 24, 2010 | Discussions thread
Big Swifty
Regular MemberPosts: 109Gear list
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Re: Lighting macros
In reply to Duncan C, 3 months ago

Duncan C wrote:

I haven't done a lot of shooting lately, but I'm on vacation on Cape Cod, and brought my camera.

I like shooting insect macros. I shoot handheld, and shoot skittish insects like butterflies, dragonflies, bees, etc. Thus, I need fast shutterspeeds. I also use small apertures to maximize the limited DOF. That combination means I need tons of light.

I've used all different kinds of lighting setups over the years, including dual flash macro brackets, a dedicated TTL ring-flash, etc, etc.

Believe it or not, my favorite macro rig is a little pop-up diffuser that I got from eBay for about $10 US. It attaches to the front of the lens and I fire my hot-shoe flash through it. It gives MUCH better light than my $400 TTL ring-light, and is easier to use.

Here's a picture of it:

Here are a couple of pictures I took today:

Note the subtle, soft-edged shadows under the butterfly.

Note the soft highlight on the butterfly's eye. Most of the other macro rigs I've used produce very stark, ugly, unnatural highlights.

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So I'm about to get into macro photography and have been doing some research. I have a Fuji X-E1, which is basically a rangefinder style camera and am about to get a Tamron 90mm macro. I came across this thread and like the idea of this diffuser instead of a ring flash. I only ever really use flash for fill (and soon for macro) so I'm not looking to spend a lot on a flash, especially after purchasing three lenses and being hit up for 25% duties by Peruvian customs. The built in flash of my X-E1 is probably not strong enough for macro and so I'm looking at a Sunpak PF20XD [(Guide # 3.5-20 (ISO100-m)] which looks very similar to Fuji's much more expensive EF-X20. It's a small flash and I'm wondering if coupled with the X-E1 and this diffuser if the set up will work for macro. I see the flash used in the picture extends out where the Sunpak doesn't. Also see the tilting Metz 20-C mentioned, but read that the build quality is not so great. If not either of these, does anyone have any recommendations? Again, I'm on a budget, don't use flash much, and am looking to spend around $50-60.

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