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Old Jun 6, 2010, 7:28 AM   #1
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Default Quick and dirty flash comparison for macro beginners

This is a really quick and dirty post to compare different flashes on the same subject under 1:1 macro conditions. Excuse the subject in the photo's, just wanted something with variations in colour and a few things that will cast shadows.

First off, ambient light, should be comparable to a really overcast day:



With bad light we had to use ISO400, f3.2 and 1/8s pretty much impossible to do handheld, could have gone to ISO1600 or higher, but the point is to get detail. Under these conditions you might as well save battery.

So, we go next with the same conditions but the built in flash on the camera:



Ah... we have hit a problem, the built in flash can't reach over the end of the long lens... so unless you want to lose 1:1 macro this is a no go as well.

Then we try a regular bargain bin flashgun:



Much better!

We can do ISO100, f.13 and 1/160s!

Let's try again with a "better bouncecard" on top of the flash to give it a softer touch:



Not a massive difference, more shadow underneath if that is what you are after, but we have had to go down to f.9 to allow for the scattered light. Still perfectly reasonable.

Lastly we give the good old LED Chinese Ring "flash" a try:



Brilliant! if you are after a shadowless look, you can't go wrong with the price, but this is only really of a benefit in bad light, as soon as the clouds are gone and the sun takes over, it doesn't do a massive amount.

As this isn't as bright as a regular flashgun though we had to go to ISO400 and f.7.1
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Old Jun 6, 2010, 7:32 AM   #2
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Caveat Emptor:

This is a really simple guide for those starting out, there are lots of lighting guides out there, but thought I would do this to compare options for those just starting out and are worried about putting money down on things that might not be what they need.

A lot of people are getting into macro lately so thought I would share my experiences, I am by no means an expert (just look at my "proper" macro photo's) but should hopefully give people somewhere to start.
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Old Jun 6, 2010, 9:56 AM   #3
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Good comparison, Ash.
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Old Jun 6, 2010, 10:47 AM   #4
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LOL thanks

I know it's basic stuff for most of us, and the subject in the photo's hardly creates a professional image, but not seen many things like this written down (probably for a reason LOL)
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Old Jun 6, 2010, 1:15 PM   #5
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I'm horrible when it comes to flash - I seem to have a block against it. I want to get something in addition to my 540, but I just can't get my brain around it all and decide what I should get. I found this thread quite useful.
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Old Jun 6, 2010, 1:25 PM   #6
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I found it interesting while doing it as well, I was under the impression the bounce card would have made more of a difference with macro. For things further away, and especially when bouncing off the ceiling it makes quite a difference. With this close to the lens macro work, it only really softened the shadows a touch and increased the shadow underneath. Not really sure it's worth bothering with unless you have a small flashgun and have clipping shadow problems like with the onboard flash above.
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Old Jun 6, 2010, 4:58 PM   #7
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Nice start, seems simple but gives a descent explanation what the differences are that you can get.

The last one is especially great for those wanting to get such a ringlight. The only way I had descent results from the one that I have, is by taping of a part so that a bit of shadow appeared.

Thanks for posting

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Old Jun 6, 2010, 5:59 PM   #8
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Thanks Ronny!

Yeah the ringflash creates a very flat image which can be good or bad depending on what you want out of an image. Might give the tape thing a try, good thinking!
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Old Jun 6, 2010, 8:35 PM   #9
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Thanks for the explanation tachi ..It gives a very god idea on the capabilities of each flash type
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