What's the best macro flash kit you can buy? We found six of the best options for close-up lighting to test how well they deliver controllable power and versatility.
Here's the problem. When you're shooting close-ups with a macro lens, the light from a regular flashgun will be very much off-axis, causing uneven lighting with dark, unsightly shadows.
For extreme close-ups, even the lens will cast a shadow on the subject! For even, shadowless lighting, you need a system where light is fired from both sides of the lens (a twin-flash), or from a tube that encircles the lens (a ring flash).
One solution is to use a ring flash adapter, which mounts onto a regular flashgun and diverts the path of its light through a large ring that mounts around the lens (as reviewed in our best ring flash for portraits test).
Another option, which is what we're looking at here, is to use a dedicated macro flash. These consist of a circular flash unit that fits around the lens of your camera (more sophisticated models allow you to set the sides to different brightnesses, or trigger just one side of the flash).
The flash is triggered by your camera. Most of the models we've looked at are hotshoe-mounted, but the Nikon R1 kit works off a pop-up flash.
Best macro flash kits: Aputure Amaran Halo LED
Price: £50, $45
Buy it: www.ukphotodistro.co.uk
The Aputure ring flash uses an array of high-power LEDs rather than conventional flash tubes.
This enables a fairly powerful output in flash mode, and continuous lighting at reduced power, making it suitable for shooting macro video clips.
There is AF assist lighting in flash mode but no TTL flash metering. Instead, power is manually adjustable between full, half and quarter power output settings.
You can also switch the output to just the left or right side. Eight mounting rings enable fitment to popular filter thread sizes between 49mm and 77mm.
Pros… Delivers constant lighting for macro video, as well as flash.
Cons… No TTL flash metering for auto power adjustments.
WE say… A lightweight, compact and inexpensive system.
PAGE 1: Best macro flash kits - Aputure Amaran Halo LED
PAGE 2: Best macro flash kits - Nikon Close-up Speedlight Remote Kit R1
PAGE 3: Best macro flash kits - Nissin MF18 Macro Flash
PAGE 4: Best macro flash kits - Sigma EM-140 DG
PAGE 5: Best macro flash kits - Sunpak Auto 16R Pro Ringflash
PAGE 6: Best macro flash kits - Viltrox JY-670 Macro Light Pro Kit
PAGE 7: Five things to look for in a macro flash kit
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