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07-17-2017, 02:01 PM   #1
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macro-flash

do i need a macro flash to do great macro photos if so which one

07-17-2017, 02:23 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums, Robert... A man of few words, eh?

You can take great macro shots with no flash at all, depending on the available light and whether the subject is static or moving. Alternatively, you can use all kinds of artificial light sources from a hand-held flash-light or LCD panel, through to dedicated flash units (including ring flashes etc.).

Tell us a little more about the types of subject you want to photograph, at what distance, in what kind of lighting conditions and the focal length of the lens(es) you're using, and I'm sure the members here will be able to help
07-17-2017, 02:24 PM - 1 Like   #3
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If you want to do flash-lit macro, yes...if you want to do available light or continuous light macro, no.

However, much more important than that...if you want to do GREAT macro photos, you will first need a lot of experience and other kit, before you should worry about flash. The way you've asked the question, I would guess that your first step should be to try it out, develop some skills, then you will know for yourself what you need. Skills first, kit later.
07-17-2017, 02:25 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by I robert Quote
do i need a macro flash to do great macro photos
No you don't. Can one be useful? Yes. But I would suggest that if you are asking that question you don't need one. After you have shot macro for awhile you will know if you need a flash for the particular work you are doing. But just starting out? Nope. Save your money. Use a piece of white cardboard or foamcore as a reflector if you need a little more light.

07-17-2017, 02:51 PM   #5
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i'm using pentax wr 100mm 2.8 on a k3 probably best lense so far, bug & flowers mostly
07-17-2017, 03:15 PM   #6
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Well, your camera and lens are first rate and you have all you need to take some fantastic macro shots... if you learn the necessary skills. As others have indicated, a flash might be useful for specific situations, but you'd be better off mastering what you have first
07-17-2017, 03:23 PM   #7
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thanks for your help
07-17-2017, 03:39 PM   #8
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Pop-up flash can work very well for macro, if you add some diffusion. And since you're using a modern lens you can use the flash with auto exposure. Here's my review of a simple, very portable, and inexpensive diffuser I've used, with a couple of sample photos:

Interfit On-Camera Difuser reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database

07-17-2017, 04:10 PM   #9
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A macro or close focus photo will often look better with flash because the flash will darken the background while allowing you to stop the lens down for greater depth of field or lower ISO. I have had good results with the built in flash, or with the relatively inexpensive 200FG, and a very old AF280T. The AF280T is really powerful when needed, and the head tilts up for bounce flash, and down 15 degrees for close up work. Tall and heavy, but mine cost just $12.00 or EBAY. All of these options, even "dialed" way back for closeup work, still often produce way too much light. Some sort of diffuser and light reducer is usually needed. I have taped a small piece of white cloth (from a "hankie") to the top if both flash units an just flip it down when necessary. Practice
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07-17-2017, 05:01 PM   #10
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I would recommend a can of crisps (in North American parlance, potato chips). See here:

My Temporary Diffuser (using built-in flash) - PentaxForums.com

Diffusing mycamera's built in flash (K-S2) was a huge step in improving my macro results. The can got the light out onto my subject (which would otherwise be shadowed by some of my lens/tube combinations). Highlights were much less harsh and obtrusive, too.
07-17-2017, 06:32 PM - 1 Like   #11
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For flowers, a flash is not needed. You can do quite well with a tripod, clamps, reflectors, diffusers, and natural light.

Likewise for insects, but natural light can be limiting if you have twitchy subjects.

That said, I was already acquainted with the basics of off-camera flash use when I picked up my first macro and I'm glad I was. Flashes will let you set up the light anyway you like, use (nearly) whatever aperture & iso you like, and pretty much eliminate any camera shake or subject movement issues. It's really the same with any type of photography - get the light right and the rest follows. Macro stuff has the advantage (and challenge) of being very small, and a macro lighting kit can likewise be pretty small. One off camera flash is my minimum lighting payload, a simple one with manual controls and a way to trigger it off camera + some DIY reflectors/diffusers/etc is enough to make me happy - one light can be a pretty versatile kit. I have a flickr album of stuff i've done with one flash, most of it is macro, most of it should have lighting details, some of them combine the flash with ambient.

Good luck!
07-18-2017, 03:40 AM   #12
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I would suggest you experiment with the pop-up flash, but no hood on the 100 macro. I've lost many, many natural light macros to undetected little breezes and subject motion. Natural light looks more, well, natural - softer colors, nice background. Flash tends to be sharper but the background is almost always very dark to black. Using a mini-lightbox or reflector on the strobe (not on the pop-up flash) can soften the lighting a bit and give more modeling to the subject.

There is no such thing as the best way to do macro. Experiment and use what works for you. I would generally advise natural light for flowers, and for insects when you have full sunlight for illumination. In shadow or very early morning, flash is probably better for insects.
07-18-2017, 06:14 AM - 2 Likes   #13
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Need one? No. Will it give you some added flexibility? Sure. There are threads here on how to direct flash with tubes etc. Last year I started using a Sunpak DX-8R ring flash in manual mode and it's been a boon to my work in the field. The shutter sync is limited to 1/160 or 1/180 but with the added light that's plenty except when it's very windy, and then nothing really helps except holding the plant with one hand.
I'm using that ring flash in manual mode at 1/4 power. Camera set to f16, 1/160sec and ISO 200.

Flash creates some artifacts, of course - reflections easily identified. I view that as a trade-off I'm willing to accept.

Braconid wasp on purple prairie clover
[IMG][/IMG]

Flash gives you something interesting too - the ability to underexpose your background and isolate your subject.
Agapostemon virescence on spiderwort:
[IMG][/IMG]
07-19-2017, 05:21 AM   #14
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thanks for further comments & photos there inspiring
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Do you need a flash to take good macros? No. But your ability to capture sharp images with maximum depth of field at the lowest ISO setting will be greatly improved. Your best bet is a small, low-power (GN20) flash preferably with multiple power levels. This one is a good example. Setting the flash at a low power level reduces the flash time to thousandths of a second and effectively freezes all motion even at relatively slow shutter speeds. By using the flash off-camera and holding it very close to the subject you can set the aperture to f16 and the ISO to 100 for optimum DOF and picture quality. An added benefit is that the closer the flash is to the subject, the less harsh the shadows. You can also adjust the angle of the light to achieve more realistic and 3D look to your subject.

If you want to give this a try for cheap go to a used camera dealer, a garage sale (or ebay) and buy an old low power flash and PC to hot shoe cord. You will be impressed with the results.
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