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Just to let it be known, I want the following:

  • ETTL Support
  • The lens has a 58mm thread.

I don't care alot about extra features, and for the flash, I don't mind getting any kind of an off brand. I don't want to spend the $500 for Canon's flash, as I just can't imagine it's worth it... Any suggestions?

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You might consider DIY: diyphotography.net/from-paper-to-ringflash-in-few-easy-steps or for something related but different diyphotography.net/diy-macro-lighting-led-ring –  BBischof Feb 6 '11 at 1:36
    
Fine if you don't want to spend for Canon's options (the MR-14EX Macro Ring Lite or the even-more-expensive though also more adjustable and further-from-the-lens (which is better for some things, worse for others) MT-24EX Macro Twin-Lite), however, a bit of info about these flashes: they actually mount onto the front of the lens with the bayonet (?) mounts that the lens hood (ET-67) also uses, rather than the 58mm thread, however they do also cover up the threads, so you have to remove any filters -- with the MT-24EX (not MR-14EX!), new threads are provided so you can re-add them if desired. –  lindes Feb 6 '11 at 2:52
    
follow-up: but there is a "macrolite adapter" available, or actually several different ones... I'm having a little trouble finding detailed information on these, but they do exist, allowing you (apparently) to screw in to the filter threads of a filter or lens -- including other sizes of threads, with different adapters. –  lindes Feb 6 '11 at 3:01
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5 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

My research has lead me to looking at a Zeikon Digital TTL Macro Ringlight, please let me know if you think it'd do the trick.

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I wonder what is the purpose of the bulky "bouncing flash head"? I assume all the electronics can be stuffed in the fixed part, and the lighting components can go in the ring. –  ysap Feb 6 '11 at 1:38
    
I'd guess economy of tooling -- they're probably using two caps, one in the hinge and one in the reflector body (the part that tilts). All they need to do to make a ringlight is to replace the reflector/lens assembly and add a cord to go to the flash tube carrier from the same pins/sockets that would normally go directly to the flash tube; all of the rest of the flash comes from the same parts bin as another model. It also looks like a four-tube design (rather than a true ringlight), so the parts count unique to this flash would be pretty small. Explains the price. –  user2719 Feb 6 '11 at 11:18
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The Sigma Macro EM-140 SG is a good alternative - it's pricier but it allows you to control the lighting ratio between the left- and right-hand-side bulbs.

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For a poor man's solution, you can create masks from ND gels to control the power of whatever sections of the ring. –  ysap Feb 6 '11 at 1:41
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I have the Metz Mecablitz-15 ringflash and I quite like it and it's a well known name in flash equipment. It supports TTL for a number of camera brands, including Canon, Nikon, and Pentax and comes with a 52, 55, and 58mm lens adapter. One of the things I liked about, and I shoot Pentax, is the cross brand support which means it's still good to go if I ever switch (which, admittedly, is unlikely).

In terms of some feature notes, by the way...

  1. The two sides can be independently controlled.
  2. The flash is upgradeable via USB in the event that wireless protocols change.
  3. Amazon is listing below $350. Okay, not specifically a feature, but a very good price for a very good device.
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I have a Ray Flash, which takes a very different approach than a traditional ring flash. Instead of providing it's own light, it takes the light from your regular strobe and bounces it around until it comes out around the lens.

Assuming you already have an external flash (and you can find a Ray Flash that fits your camera/flash combination), then it's a much cheaper alternative than any of the dedicated ring flashes; they sell for about $200. It'll also work on multiple lenses without any adapters.

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Are you sure you want a special ring or macro flash rig? Many photographers get great results with an ordinary speedlight and a simple bracket to hold it in a strategic position. That arrangement may be cheaper than a specialty ring light and certainly is more flexible, as you can also use that speedlight to do anything else a speedlight is good for.

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