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12-30-2014, 09:43 AM   #1
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Help me find a good ring flash/light

I'd ask for recommendation of a reasonable macro-flash + (LED)light.


For a while I was considering MEIKE FC-100 ( Meike FC-100 Ring Flash / Light reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database ) but the reviews are not really positive.


I know that there's a genuine Pentax AF-160FC or Sigma EM-140 DG but here the prices are pretty high.


Would there be another brand compatible with K-3 and lenses with filter sizes in the range 49-77 mm, available for let's say 150 USD?

12-30-2014, 09:51 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by zzeitg Quote
I'd ask for recommendation of a reasonable macro-flash + (LED)light.


For a while I was considering MEIKE FC-100 ( Meike FC-100 Ring Flash / Light reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database ) but the reviews are not really positive.


I know that there's a genuine Pentax AF-160FC or Sigma EM-140 DG but here the prices are pretty high.


Would there be another brand compatible with K-3 and lenses with filter sizes in the range 49-77 mm, available for let's say 150 USD?
What are you photographing? And with what lens?
12-30-2014, 10:05 AM   #3
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I bought a Polaroid LED ring light/flash 2 years ago for macro work, it's the best bang for the buck if you ask me. They cost around fifty bucks and come with adapters to mount it on thread size 52mm,55mm,58mm,62mm,67mm,72mm, and 77mm. It's model number PLMRFN.
12-30-2014, 10:22 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sliver-Surfer Quote
What are you photographing? And with what lens?

In the macro field I'm using D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro and DA 35mm F2.8 Ltd. Macro. Insects, flowers...


But there might be ways how to use the ring flash with other "non-macro" lenses, too - 7 Creative Ways to Use A Ring Flash - Digital Photography School


QuoteOriginally posted by Trey45 Quote
I bought a Polaroid LED ring light/flash 2 years ago for macro work, it's the best bang for the buck if you ask me. They cost around fifty bucks and come with adapters to mount it on thread size 52mm,55mm,58mm,62mm,67mm,72mm, and 77mm. It's model number PLMRFN.


Thanks for the tip, Trey. I can see ( Polaroid Macro LED Ring Flash for Nikon PLMRFN B&H Photo Video ) that it's called "Polaroid Macro LED Ring Flash for Nikon" - is there a Pentax version, too? Or is this flash universal?

12-30-2014, 10:24 AM   #5
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Since there is no P-TTL communication with the light/flash it's a universal unit. I have no idea why they list it as a Nikon unit, it will work with any hot shoe.

---------- Post added 12-30-14 at 12:34 PM ----------

Just to make sure I hooked up my Polaroid ring flash to my Pentax K20D and my new K5iis, my ring flash is the PLMRFC (for Canon) and it worked just fine on both of those cameras. I had used it with the K20D but not the K5iis before. If in doubt order the one for Canon instead of the one for Nikon since I just made sure it does in fact work.

PS.
I forgot to mention that I have also used the same ring flash on my *ist DL as well.

Last edited by Trey45; 12-30-2014 at 10:35 AM.
12-30-2014, 11:02 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Trey45 Quote
Since there is no P-TTL communication with the light/flash it's a universal unit. I have no idea why they list it as a Nikon unit, it will work with any hot shoe.

---------- Post added 12-30-14 at 12:34 PM ----------

Just to make sure I hooked up my Polaroid ring flash to my Pentax K20D and my new K5iis, my ring flash is the PLMRFC (for Canon) and it worked just fine on both of those cameras. I had used it with the K20D but not the K5iis before. If in doubt order the one for Canon instead of the one for Nikon since I just made sure it does in fact work.

PS.
I forgot to mention that I have also used the same ring flash on my *ist DL as well.

I'm looking at both Nikon and Canon version on B&H but can't find any difference (except .04 $ in price).
So maybe it's only to keep the Canikon guys sure that they're buying the right thing?


What would be interesting for me - have you tried the flash mode with faster times, like 1/100 or less?

Last edited by zzeitg; 12-30-2014 at 11:08 AM.
12-30-2014, 11:16 AM   #7
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1/2sec exposure using the Polaroid ring flash. It's a 12 gauge shotgun shell primer.

---------- Post added 12-30-14 at 01:25 PM ----------



Dime detail 1/100sec, same ringflash.

12-30-2014, 11:45 AM   #8
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The specs on the flash give the speed as 1/100th a second so you probably couldn't use a shutter speed faster than that in flash mode.

The Meike may be the same flash. Travor makes the flash and it is sold under many names:

Vertical Shoot Battery Grip|Rechargeable Battery Grip

It is a manual only flash so either should work on a Pentax in manual mode. You might be better off with a Sunpak DX 8R or 12R. There are several threads and posts on this flash. If you want P-TTL metering you're going to have to spend much more money.
12-30-2014, 12:24 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by zzeitg Quote
In the macro field I'm using D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro and DA 35mm F2.8 Ltd. Macro. Insects, flowers...


But there might be ways how to use the ring flash with other "non-macro" lenses, too - 7 Creative Ways to Use A Ring Flash - Digital Photography School






Thanks for the tip, Trey. I can see ( Polaroid Macro LED Ring Flash for Nikon PLMRFN B&H Photo Video ) that it's called "Polaroid Macro LED Ring Flash for Nikon" - is there a Pentax version, too? Or is this flash universal?
The only macro shot in that article uses an external flash with a round diffuser. Have you tried an external flash with diffuser. Macro rings cast in my opinion very sterile and inorganic light, ok for machinery and medical photography but if you experiment with an external flash and something as simple as a piece of white letter paper bound to your flash with an elastic you can get great results. I think light and shadow balance is the key to great strobography.
12-30-2014, 12:43 PM - 1 Like   #10
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I have the Yongnuo MR-58 - LED ring flash. It's like $30. I dig it because you can turn the LEDs on full time, which makes it much easier to focus, and you can turn just one side or the other on, to give more depth.

I'd suggest with any LED flash, if you're shooting something reflective (for example, water drops or eyes), put some kind of diffuser over the LEDs. Otherwise, you end up with distractions like the little circles in this:

Or a more extreme example, here:
12-30-2014, 03:08 PM   #11
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There are some $500+ options using real macro flashes from Pentax and others (Pentax AF-160FC or Sigma EM-140 DG). There are also some much cheaper solutions that may work quite well.

MACRO LENS: I don't think a special macro lens is needed for starting out. You may find that a high-quality close up filter will convert your 50mm lens to an excellent macro lens for modest investment. The Pentax A 50/1.7 is way sharper than many other lenses and a great choice with close up filters. Make sure the close-up lens is achromatic, 2 element, so colors are true. Marumi makes good ones ("DHG achromatic 330"). I use the Canon 250D 52mm lens, which is excellent.

HOW MUCH LIGHT IS NEEDED? Surprisingly, you don't need much light for a close subject. Most ring lights put out enough light for subjects from 1-5 feet at ASA 100, too much for subjects closer than 1 foot. Remember, light intensity falls off as the inverse of the square of distance to subject. This means for a subject 1 inch away, you need 1/144th of the light needed for a subject 12 inches away, and you may not have that range of adjustment. With traditional (overpowered) strobes you may have to resort to ND filters, very small apertures, and other tricks just to dial down the light.

OLD SCHOOL FLASHES: There are many Film era manual flash ring lights, which are cheap. Check the reviews and you will find multiple choices. The Sunpak DX-8R is popular ($50 and up). I have this and several others. Again, being manual only, they require trial and error to get the lighting right and may be overpowering.

REFLECTOR COLLAR: Fit a reflector collar on your flash (say AF 540FGZ) and drape it around your lens. It carries a portion of the flash output to the lens. The benefit is that it uses PTTL flash control and auto-exposure. Totally passive and inexpensive, these will work for close subjects with a short lens such as a 50mm, maybe not so well with the 50 extended or the 100 lens. And you can always say "I did it with mirrors".

LEDs on Flex Arms: Another option is LEDS on arms that you can position. These sit on your hot shoe and give constant illumination. These are very dim, but actually do the job for very close subjects and are useful for fill to control shadows, supplementing ambient light. These all work well for subjects very close to the lens because you can aim the light around the lens. You can position the arms so the lens does not interfere. These come in 2 arm and 3 arm versions. You could double the 2 arm for 4 arms. Pete Ganzel developed something similar 10 years ago, but he used fiber optic light pipes from the main strobe instead of LEDS.
Macro Fiber Optic Flash Guide Kit for Konica Minolta Sony DSLRs $200 photo - Pete Ganzel photos at pbase.com

LED RING LIGHTS: We've all seen LED traffic lights, LED car head lights, LED flood lights and LED cell phone flashes. These high volume applications have driven development of powerful white LEDs to low cost. It is natural to consider them for photography use. LED ring flashes are cheap and simple. They don't put out as much light in an instant as a real strobe -- so you use longer shutter speeds or higher ISOs. They work differently than old school strobes. Rather than a short flash of 1/1000 second or less, they are on for a relatively long time, about 1/5 second. That way they don't have to know the flash protocol, such as PTTL or ETTL (Canon) or iTTL (Nikon). There seem to be many brands with similar offerings.

MEIKE FC-110: You mentioned the Meike FC-100, which has so so reviews due to low power. I have and like the next version of the Meike, the FC-110. It appears to be higher power, with 18 much bigger LEDS. I works well for me, but I do make adjustments to ISO, shutter speed and aperture for best results. It badly needs a diffuser which you get to invent (otherwise you get the 18 LEDs reflected back from the spider's eye or other shiny surface).

It has plenty of power if the shutter speed is long enough to let in enough light. I found 1/180th too fast. 1/30 is my typical minimum shutter speed, or I use higher ISO. I found that I got about all the light in about 1/6 second. You can leave it on constantly and shoot with auto exposure. It's easy to use and does the job for close subjects.

The price? $26. I think it's the best $26 I ever spent.
12-30-2014, 06:43 PM   #12
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If you look up a list of the best examples of macro images I guarantee 9 out of 10 will not be ring flashes. It's the Gadgetry of them that is attractive imho.
12-30-2014, 06:49 PM   #13
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I got a Polaroid 48 LED ring flash for Christmas a little while back. Really bright, neutral light, easy to use. Check it out!
02-16-2015, 03:29 PM   #14
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Sigma EM-140 DG P-TTL

For those of you from EU that offer (Sigma EM-140 DG PTTL for $165) might be attractive (that's not my ad!):
PENTAX@PL :: Sprzedam lamp

QuoteOriginally posted by slowhands95128 Quote
There are some $500+ options using real macro flashes from Pentax and others (Pentax AF-160FC or Sigma EM-140 DG).
02-20-2015, 03:07 PM   #15
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I use the Ray Flash Universal Ring Adapter. It works for me.
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