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12-02-2006, 10:32 PM   #1
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Macrophotography Ring Light

Does Pentax have a ring light for macro photography, if not what can be used? I would like to give macro photography a try when I get a K100D or K10D but wonder about lighting accessories for them.

12-02-2006, 11:55 PM   #2
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First of all, I will assume you meant ring 'flash', not ring 'light', a whole different ballpark.

Pentax does not offer a ring flash at this time, altho some vendors (like B&H I believe) still have stock of the AF140C. Unfortunately, the AF140C is TTL, and with Pentax digitals that have only P-TTL (e.g. the DL, K100D, K10D), you are limited to manual mode. For macros that's not too bad, but it's still a pain, and may necessitate ND filters, especially close focused with the shorter focal length 50mm macro lenses. AFAIK, Pentax is the only major manufacturer without a ring flash.

Third party ring flashes have similar limitations. Sigma says it will have the EM-140 ready for Pentax P-TTL "soon", and Promaster, through a recent communication to me, has said that their 5432 module for the Macrolume is not performing well, and will soon be replaced with a new module with new circuitry similar to that on that on their 7500 series, which they claim works very well under P-TTL.

Please note that the Promaster unit will not support high speed synch, while the Sigma unit does.

In any case, I have the older Pentax AF080C ring flash, a Starblitz 1000 ring flash, and a Canfield/Nikon Macro Twin Flash, and I 'm not particularly pleased with any of them.

What I do like is: The AF540FGZ with a Lumiquest Bouncer, at 45 degrees tilt up, set to high speed synch. Sounds complicated, but really quite simple. And it gives those shadows that avoid the flat, lifeless look of a ring flash. And it also lets me use f/19 for decent DOF, with moderate ISO's, and shutter speeds below 1/500, to neutralize most all shake when hand-held. Can't ask for much more.

Btw, I've been mainly using the Pentax DFA 100mm/2.8, but I also have the Pentax DFA 50mm/2.8, and the incredibly sharp A 50mm/2.8 (but the latter only goes to 1:2). The 100mm lens is far more suitable to anything that is alive. I am eagerly awaiting the Sigma 180/2.8 macro; it's been on back-order for over two months.

Larry
12-03-2006, 12:43 AM   #3
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I've seen them called 'ring light', 'macro rings', 'flash macro rings', 'macro ring flash' etc. So what's the difference? I just don't understand why it seems Pentax is lacking in their photo lighting accessories.
12-03-2006, 06:58 AM   #4
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Ring 'light' vs. Ring 'flash'

QuoteOriginally posted by KFrog Quote
I've seen them called 'ring light', 'macro rings', 'flash macro rings', 'macro ring flash' etc. So what's the difference? I just don't understand why it seems Pentax is lacking in their photo lighting accessories.
In common usage, a 'ring light' provides continuous illumination, as with SR Inc's Digi-Slave series of LED macro lights, while a 'ring flash' provides a burst of illumination synchronized to the opening of the shutter. But I've also seen overlap between these two terms.

I made to distinction in my response because I assumed that you wanted information with respect to the more common 'ring flash'.

And yes, it is unfortunate that neither Pentax nor any third party provides a fully functioning P-TTL ring flash, but it seems that Pentax is just starting to get its act together on the accessory end, and ring flashes are for a rather niche market. After all, Pentax doesn't even have lenses longer than the DA50-200, although, per their "Roadmap" this deficiency is already slated to be resolved in the near future. They have a lot of catching up to do on the accessory end.

As others have said, if you absolutely require long glass ASAP, Pentax is not your best choice at the present moment. Ditto if you absolutely require macro flash (IMO). But otherwise, its a great system, and Pentax seems to be gaining momentum rapidly.

Larry

12-03-2006, 08:52 AM   #5
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Thanks for the information Larry. I really like Pentax slrs as my choice of camera because of the shake reduction in the camera and the weather resistant seals but I am a little concerned about lighting as I mentioned. I'm new at this so I'm still researching. As you said there are options available so I'll stick with Pentax.
12-03-2006, 09:15 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by KFrog Quote
Thanks for the information Larry. I really like Pentax slrs as my choice of camera because of the shake reduction in the camera and the weather resistant seals but I am a little concerned about lighting as I mentioned. I'm new at this so I'm still researching. As you said there are options available so I'll stick with Pentax.
EVERYTHING considered, I think you're making a good choice. Pentax is no longer only a good compromise; it is becoming a good choice in and of itself.

And as far as lighting goes, I would most strongly recommend that you go for broke and get the AF540FGZ flash.

I bought the AF360FGZ originally, because I couldn't see any point in the extra expense for the 540, but now my 11 y/o neice is using the 360 (quite happily, on my K100D that I think she knows will be her Xmas present), and I am grateful for every bit of performance the 540 can deliver, ESPECIALLY for macros.

I also want to emphasize that Pentax appears to be a rapidly rising star - the K10D looks like it will be nothing short of a blockbuster. Both Sigma and Promaster are only a hair's width away from having a P-TTL ring flash on the market, should they be properly motivated. With accelerating Pentax sales, it seems very likely that these products (and others) will be hitting the markets in the very near future.

Larry
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