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Old Feb 23, 2012, 5:17 PM   #1
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Default New Macro Flash setup I'll be trying out

Hi All,

Here's a relatively inexpensive alternative for macro flash :

Fotopro Double Arm flash bracket $24.88


Sunpak PF 20FD Digital Slave Flash (either 1 or 2) $36.99



SUNWAYFOTO MCP-01 Mini-Clamp Package $79.00


Collapsible 12" reflector $10


Flash modifiers -- choose your own poison for diffusers, bouncers, etc

Put these together any way you want them.

The Fotopro bracket is a 140mm Arca compatible plate with attached multiflex arms with micro ball heads at the ends of each arm. It's meant to screw to the camera's tripod socket, but if you already have an Arca plate on your camera, then the double miniclamp package can be added to make this whole thing QR (or you could get just a single clamp for about $40 and screw it to the bracket). The bracket has to be inverted to use the double clamp. so a single clamp would be better if you want to use this with an Arca type ballhead on a tripod or monopod. The Sunway clamps are very nicely finished and high quality items, IMO.

Personally, I have other uses for these miniclamps, so this was a good solution for me, plus OEC, the Amazon seller, offers 10% off when you buy 3 items from the Amazon store, so with one more item, I could get the discount. This seller also stocks Marumi achromatic close ups in a variety of sizes at a pretty good price. Preliminary tests tell me that they are pretty good performers. I got a +3 and a +5 in 52mm.

The Sunpak flash can be set to fire off the popup flash (either first flash witn manual lenses or second flash with P-TTL). There are 3 auto thyristor ranges, and it can be set for full manual at full, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32 output. You could also use it with a hotshoe to hotshoe non-dedicated cord, but wireless is better, IMO. It's rated at GN 20 (m, ISO 100) and the should easily be enough at macro distances. It's super lightweight, and about the size of a pack of Camel unfiltered cigarettes.

You can use one flash and a 12" collapsible reflector on the other arm for a super lightweight (and cheap) setup. $25 for the bracket, $10 for the reflector, and $37 for the flash -- $72.

With the two flashes, you can use different fractional power settings for each in manual, or use different auto thyristor settings in brainless mode to get the light distribution that you want.

If you don't want the popup flash to contribute to the exposure, you can mask it with a piece of exposed and developed color print film leader (the black part at the beginning of the roll. If you don't have any, go to your nearest photo finisher and see if they'll give you a couple for free. The exposed film blocks visible light, but lets enough infra red through to fire the slave.

Oh yeah, the bracket with two flashes weighs @ 1 lb (460g), and with the duo clamps, it's @ 1 lb, 5 oz (600g)

I just got this, so I can't give you any samples, but it gives very versatile positioning and can work as brainlessly as you might want

Here are a few quickie snaps to show you what it might look like put together (forgive the background and lighting -- I just threw this together and took a couple of shots on top of the washing machine to give you an idea of what it looks like. . .)

Here's the whole setup with the K-5. When I get the Arca plate for the Q modified the way I want, and the A 50/2.8 Macro that I just bought, this will be a super high mag super lightweight bug shooter with small video LED light(s)

Here's the bracket and the duo clamps. The bracket needs to be upside down for this application, but it allows me to attach it quickly to the camera, and allows for either parallel or perpendicular plate orientation on the camera/lens.

Here are the bracket and clamps separated with the bracket right side up (the way it would be if used with a single clamp, or attached directly to the tripod socket on the camera body.

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Old Feb 23, 2012, 5:32 PM   #2
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Looks like a great setup - can hardly wait to see your great photos with it!!
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Old Feb 23, 2012, 11:46 PM   #3
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That's an interesting permutation on the same Fotopro arms I use.

I have two constant light F&V MVL-30 LEDs attached to the arms - I find this helps a lot with exposure and focusing and the lights lasts forever on their own rechargeable battery packs ! However the output isn't that strong (DC 3.7v, I'm not sure what that converts to in watts) but more than sufficient for brightening insect macros etc. on dull days.

I'm going to have to look into those Sunpaks as the downside of the LEDs is that they are not variable and in bright sunlight make no major difference to eradicating shadows.
Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

Nikon : D800, D600, Sigma 500/4.5, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 35/2.0, Nikkor 85/1.8G, Sigma 50/1.4. Nikon x1.4 TC, Sigma x2.0 TC
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Old Feb 24, 2012, 2:59 PM   #4
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Can't wait to see some sample shots!

My ancient ringflash probably doesn't have long left, and the fact I can only fire it at 100% as I am using it closer than the thyrister sensor is designed for means it's less than ideal. Would be interested in seeing some shots with the flashes at different power/angle to each other, with my ringflash the images are quite flat.
Pentax K-7
Tamron 90mm SP Di Macro
Tamron Adaptall 2 - 28mm, 28-80mm, 500mm Mirror
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Old Feb 24, 2012, 11:04 PM   #5
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That's a fascinating set-up and definitely beats the Pentax ring flash for price. I'm going to have to keep that one in mind.
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