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Old Mar 25, 2010, 8:24 PM   #1
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Default Macro Flash PTTL for under $25.00

Mtngals husband Dave is going to love this!

As long as we are all on a macro kick today I thought I would share this with you.

The camera club that Nhmom and I go to put on a macro shooting program. The individual who put it on brought some of his home made macro flash devices to let us try at the meeting. When I saw the pictures that he had taken with this device I was blown away.

I went home and the next day I began building a flash device and all I can say is this. It is ridiculous looking but it works fantastic. It is far less fragile than I thought when I first saw it.

This is a piece of Yankee ingenuity at it's best. It uses the cameras pop up flash. The key to its design is a piece of thin black plastic sheet about the thickness of a sheet of construction paper that fits inside of a polarizing filter that has had the glass removed. It is screwed onto the front of the lens and diverts the flash to the two reflectors made of cardboard and covered with aluminum foil (dull side out) that are attached to the flexible reading light poles. The lights are not used but I suppose could be. You can adjust the pole and the reflector cards up and down, in and out to get exactly the light you need where you need it.

The beauty of this device is that it allows you to shoot at high f/stops so you can get more depth of field.

The closepins act as a wedge to keep the lights from tipping. I have not had time to cut proper wedges.


The gold coin is 14MM Dia. The picture is not good as the coin was at a slight angle to the lens (taken hand held) but you will get the idea of how nice light works.

1:1 Macro f/13 ISO 250

Old wristwatch movement.

F/13 ISO250

f/20 ISO 250

If you want to build one I can post a material list. Let me know what you think.

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Old Mar 25, 2010, 8:28 PM   #2
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Rube Goldberg, eat your heart out! Terrific ingenuity, Lou. The real proof is in the pudding, and your shots show how effective you've made this device. Well done.

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Old Mar 25, 2010, 9:34 PM   #3
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Great job, Lou! Looks like it's working as well as Art's.

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Old Mar 25, 2010, 9:36 PM   #4
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Wow! You could easily use the lights also, to add some more light if you need it - they'd work for modeling lights if nothing else. I love it - post the materiel list, it looks like something I might be able to manage (I'm not much good at DIY stuff). That might work well for me since I can't afford the Metz ring flash that Scott bought right now.
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Old Mar 25, 2010, 9:57 PM   #5
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If life brings you lemons, you can make lemonade.
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Old Mar 25, 2010, 9:58 PM   #6
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Quite the setup, and it works nicely. Way cool.
Super Frequent Flyer, no joke. Ex Patriot and loving it.
Canon Eos 60D, T1i/500D, Eos1, Eos 630, Olympus EPL-1, and a part time Pentax K-X shooter.
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Old Mar 25, 2010, 10:15 PM   #7
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Hi Lou,

Very cool!!! -- and some excellent results!

I have drawers full of DIY reflectors and diffusers, plus a ton of used flash brackets and cold shoes with angle adjusters that I've found scrounging the "junk drawers" that all old-time camera stores seem to always have. I've cobbled things together in tons of different configurations to try and get something I could really use for a good portable macro flash. As you can see from the Metz post, I eventually gave up and popped for one version of the "real thing" -- not as creative or satisfying -- and certainly more expensive

I have an idea that might make this a bit more efficient. If you made the black card on the lens wider, covered it with foil, and bent it forward into a "V" , this would still block the light from the popup flash from effecting the exposure and would reflect light to the adjustable reflectors on the sides. This shouldn't add much more weight.

I've always thought that DIY photo solutions are one of the best things about the hobby. I do usually end up buying something, and though using it might be easier or more convenient than the DIY, sometimes the results are not as good as the home-made rig. I've got a drawer full of items I bought, thinking that they were the perfect solution, only to find that they had a fatal flaw that ruined them for my use.

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Old Mar 26, 2010, 5:36 AM   #8
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What a clever gadget! Yes please do post the list. Thanks!
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Old Mar 26, 2010, 5:59 AM   #9
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Paul - I love Rube Goldburg, and try to emulate him whenever I can, but understand this was not my Idea. I just built what someone else far cleverer than I came up with.

Patty - Yes I like the way it works. Art is a genius!

Mtngal - I will put a build list and details in a separate reply to this post later today. Yes the lights can be used but I can tell you that this thing throws all the light you need without turning them on. They could be used as focus assist lights in low light shooting conditions.

Penolta - Thanks for the thumbs up.

Shoturtle - Thanks!
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Old Mar 26, 2010, 6:36 AM   #10
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Scott, after seeing your Metz macro flash review (and it was well done like all the other product reviews you have done) and having just finished building this device, I thought I would post pictures of and taken with it.

Like you I have built or cobbled together other flash brackets and snout tubes to try and improve lighting for macro shooting. Nothing has worked as well as this one.

The light I get from the device if anything seems to need the arms moved further away from the subject in order to reduce the amount of light reaching the subject. By loosening the knob on the bottom of the camera the arms can be moved closer or further from the lens to get more or less light as required. If I find more light is necessary, the suggestion you made will be tried.

I have also made smaller reflector cards 2"x 3 1/2" rather than the 4"x5" card shown, but as yet have not tried them.

Another nice feature of this bracket is that you can remove a card from one side if you want directional light falling on the subject.

I now need to make a small flash diffuser out of
a 35mm clear plastic film can (or something like it) to go over the pop up flash.

Thanks again Scott for your comments and suggestions.

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