When it comes to macro photography, one essential thing besides the camera and lens is the lighting unit. Taking a macro picture is about details. Without a good light source, natural or provided by the artist, the image will not be sharp enough and, together with the amount of noise, will result in a low-quality picture.
We have many choices for dealing with this, from professional macro flash systems or macro ring flash units to continuous lighting kits.
Macro Flash Systems
These are high-performance, providing adjustable light from different angles. It can be continuous or flash. Maximum control over light power and direction is essential in capturing details. This image is for exemplification:
These are expensive units that cost more than a few hundred cash, but if you can afford a professional macro flash system, you can buy it, and it will do the best job.
Macro ring flash
It is a cheaper alternative, which provides pretty good results. It usually comes with adapter rings to fit different lens diameters and with flash diffusers of different colors so you can give your picture lovely color effects.
The macro ring flash is an excellent choice for the photographer who requires a shadow-free image. It is designed for close-up as the flashlight source is positioned directly between the camera lens and subject, providing excellent illumination.
You may use other lighting kits, with or without a diffuser (softer/creamier light effect). The main idea is to position your subject inside the illuminated area.
You can use more advanced systems or only some lamps. The biggest issue is outdoor shooting; you can not do this in nature; for example – it is much more effective than a ring flash. But for indoor / studio shooting, this might be the right choice.
In case you are using a reverse ring, then the ring flash and other systems that have to be attached to the lens will not work. The applied side of the glass to attach the lighting unit is now attached to the camera.
You will have to use a flashgun (preferably with a diffuser) or studio lighting systems/lamps. If you want to read more about macro photography using the reverse ring, please read the post I wrote a few days ago.
If you need further information on any path you may choose, I am always happy to help. Please comment below, and we’ll work it out.
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2 thoughts on “Macro flash systems – Why is the light important?”
I’ve actually tried to make it work in the past without a flash system.
Some of the photos were okay, most were however useless. I didn’t have much natural sunlight that time. And it was a little clammy.
A Flash System would, however, made all the difference in the world. So, for all you tight-fisted people out there – They’re IMPORTANT.
By the way, you did an awesome job in explaining the fundamentals!
Cheers and have a Great One!
Thanks for your kindness Matiss. I am doing the best I can to be helpful