Best Flash options for Macro

Started May 9, 2012 | Discussions thread
markgv Regular Member • Posts: 171
Re: Best Flash options for Macro

I ended up buying the Meike FC100 on $bay. I use a Pentax K-x, and this one was listed as specifically for Pentax, but... the box I received indicated that it "Fits Nikon." I contacted the seller who said they were indeed the same. Since that seller also sells the same one for Nikon for over $3 cheaper, I requested and he reimbursed me for the difference.
As for the flash:

It actually was better made and more solid than I anticipated. It's all plastic, so it isn't meant to be knocked around, but it is also quite lightweight. That's a good thing, especially when the light is hanging on the front of a lens. One part that regularly seems to be problematic and subject to breaking on devices of this sort is the battery door. One needs to exercise some care, but this one is fairly solid.

It comes with a collection of adapter rings: 52, 55, 58, 62, 67, 72, and 77mm. To attach it to my 49mm lenses, I just used a 49> 52mm step up ring. There is an 18 page manual in Chinese and (somewhat convoluted) English. It's clear enough to get you started.

The hot shoe mount is metal (that's good), but it only has the one connector. I.e., it knows that it should flash, but it can't do any automatic metering in conjunction with the camera. The unit takes 4AA batteries. I used hybrid rechargeables which worked well and didn't seem to show much battery loss after 30 minutes of use. The controls allow you to shine a shine a pilot light, adjust the mode (namely, full, left, or right flash), choose the light (you cannot use just left or right), and turn the unit on/off. (Remember to hold the on/off button a few seconds. The unit does automatically power down on its own to a standby mode.) Once on, there are two buttons that allow you to increase or decrease the flash/light strength, and the differences are clearly noticeable. There is also a "Set" button, but I have not been able to figure out how to use it or what it does, and the manual is no help.

The wire connecting the control unit to the ring flash is of good weight, but the connections are fixed. (I would have liked them to be detachable, mainly for packing the thing more easily.) Attach one of the mounting rings to your lens, squeeze the two tension grips on the ring flash, and it's easy to have the thing ready to go. The ring flash does rotate easily, but I didn't have an issue with it.

I do not have much experience with either flash or macro photography, so I'm reporting with a beginner's approach. I have an auto-aperture macro lens, and, using the light function of the device, it was quite easy to get the pics I wanted. (I simply used my aperture setting using f8-f16.) The easiest way to make adjustments was simply to adjust the power level (there are 7) of the light. Even if you intend to use the flash, the light is a great help for focusing. (On my K-x, I use LiveView, hit the Info button a couple times to zoom the image, and I can actually get excellent focus.)

The flash mode ends up being a matter of trial and error for me. The flash seemed strong enough for taking a picture of a coin in otherwise normal roomlight and using a tripod.

I did a bunch of tests keeping aperture and ISO fixed in order to see how many stops I gained as compared to no flash and to the onboard flash. There apparently are still too many variables for my poor testing methods, but it seems I gain between 3-8 stops. The onboard flash, however, seems to be as strong or more. (Note, however, that I can't really use the onboard flash for macro shots, since the lens blocks the flash. Further, using the onboard flash, I don't have the advantage of being able to use the ring light to help focusing.)

Overall, I like this flash for its intended purpose in helping macro photography. It's comparatively cheap at ~$30. It does a great job for macro in a rather simple way, especially using the ring light.

 markgv's gear list:markgv's gear list
Pentax K-30 Pentax K-3 Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM Pentax smc DA 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 ED (IF) Fisheye Pentax smc DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited +4 more
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow