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Infobank

Flash: Macroflash photography

In close-up photography, the lens is often only inches away from the subject. Using a Speedlite attached to the camera is not effective − the flash is too far away from the lens axis and most of it misses the subject.

One solution is off-camera flash. Using a Speedlite with the Off Camera Shoe Cord, it is possible to position the flash head so that the light is aimed at the subject. This means that the light is coming from one side, but the use of a reflector on the opposite side can soften the shadows. Another solution is to use wireless flash, with the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 firing two or more Speedlites positioned to give even lighting. One Speedlite can be placed behind the subject for backlighting if you want to separate the subject from the background.

Alternatively, you can use one of the Canon macro flash units. These fit around the front of the lens, giving illumination very close to the lens axis. There are two currently available, each doing the same job in slightly different ways.

Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX

The Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX has two semi-circular flash tubes contained in a ring that fits around the front of the EF 50, 65, 100mm and 180mm macro lenses. 72C Macro Lite Adapter required when using MR14EX with EF180mm f/3.5 L Macro USM lens. Either or both flash tubes can be activated, giving some degree of control over shadows. The flash tubes can be fired rapidly at low power to show the modelling effect before you take a picture. The ring can be rotated on the lens, so that a single tube can be to the side of the subject, above or below. There is also a built-in focusing lamp to help with viewing and autofocusing.

The MR-14EX is part of the Canon wireless flash system, and can be used as a master unit. This means that you can add other compatible Speedlites − for backlighting, perhaps, or for lighting the background − and control the firing and power from the MR-14EX.

Flash modes are E-TTL and TTL. This means that the unit is fully compatible with EOS digital cameras and other Type A models (including the EOS 1V and 3). The guide number is 14 (ISO 100, m), which might sound quite low, but is powerful as close-up flash illumination.

Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX

The Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX has two fully adjustable miniature flash heads attached to a rotating ring. Each head can be rotated around the ring so, for example one can be at the side while the other is at the top. Each head also tilts in or out, so that the reflector can be aimed directly at the subject, irrespective of the distance. You can also switch off either of the heads for further control over the lighting.

The guide number of the unit is 24 (ISO 100, m). In other respects, the features of the MT-24EX are similar to those of the MR-14EX.

The Canon macro flash units provide good lighting for subjects that are too close to the lens to illuminate with Speedlites.