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Do-It-Yourself MAL-1-esque macro lights

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Hyun, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. Hyun

    Hyun Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 20, 2012
    All right, at the risk of getting thoroughly laughed at and ridiculed out of the forum, I'm presenting my little do-it-yourself macro light. I have an E-PM1, and I thought the MAL-1 macro light was such a great idea, until I saw the price tag... $60! A bit pricey for me--I'd rather put that money towards better glass. So, on a whim, I set out to make my own.

    Two weeks and $4.18 later, here's what I've done. I got this:

    Universal Hot Shoe Cap Cover BS-1 for Nikon Canon Pentax Olympus Digital Camera

    ... and this:

    Super 2 Dual Duet Arm LED Book Music Stand Light Lamp

    ... for the grand total of $4.18. Took just under two weeks for the parts to arrive from China.

    NIKON D60    35.0 mm f/1.8    35mm    f/8.0    1/50s    ISO 400

    The light is powered by three AAA batteries:

    NIKON D60    35.0 mm f/1.8    35mm    f/8.0    1/50s    ISO 200

    I attached the light to the hotshoe cover using 3M double-sided foam tape:

    NIKON D60    35.0 mm f/1.8    35mm    f/8.0    1/50s    ISO 200

    Each bulb has its own ON/OFF switch:

    NIKON D60    35.0 mm f/1.8    35mm    f/5.0    1/60s    ISO 200

    Here's how it looks on E-PM1. Huge, I know:

    NIKON D60    35.0 mm f/1.8    35mm    f/8.0    1/50s    ISO 220

    In action:

    NIKON D60    35.0 mm f/1.8    35mm    f/4.0    1/25s    ISO 200

    Side view:

    NIKON D60    35.0 mm f/1.8    35mm    f/5.0    1/60s    ISO 200

    In action:

    NIKON D60    35.0 mm f/1.8    35mm    f/2.0    1/15s    ISO 200

    All right, all right, you can stop laughing now. :)  It's big, it's bulky, but it does the trick for less than 1/10th of the MAL-1 price. You can use film gels to color the lights, use a mask to make the light more directional and not so spread out, and you can use this little contraption with any camera with a hotshoe, or even without a hotshoe--simply set the light down next to the camera and out of the view. The two flexible arms are a bit too flexible and don't maintain extreme angles, but work well enough. For the price. :tongue:
    • Like Like x 19
  2. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    Hey, it's practical and inexpensive - two qualities that are near and dear to my heart. I like it!
  3. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    That's pretty cool. I have a 9-LED hotshoe mounted light array I can use as well (powered by 2x AAA). I sometimes use it for video, but mostly I use it for a focus assist lamp on older PENs that don't have one built in. ;)  I don't see anything particularly special about the MAL-1 except that it is powered by the camera instead of AAA batteries. Not a big deal now that I just discovered my local Dollar Store sells Sunbeam AAA NiMH for only $2 a pair, lol. :biggrin:
  4. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Sweet! I love saving money with DIY. Great idea.:biggrin:
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I love the genius-ness of using the hotshoe cover as a foot. This could be used to mount all sorts of things as well, such as a level for instance...
  6. the.growler

    the.growler Mu-43 Regular

    An insanely creative hack! :bravo-009:
  7. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    It's functional, and it costs only a fraction of the MAL-1, so who cares if it is bulky or not. It's not like you are gonna bring it out for street photography...

    Well done! :thumbup:
  8. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
  9. sin77

    sin77 Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 9, 2011
    Nothing to laugh at... it's simply creative and saves money!

    Do post more of your DIYs if you have any.

    The manufacturers/retailers are sucking our money. For e.g. I paid around US$23 (in my country) for a Stofen flash diffuser cap! I think it should only worth US$10.
  10. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
  11. Alan_N

    Alan_N Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 22, 2011
    Yorkshire UK
    looks briliant! thanks for sharing :2thumbs: will get on to ebay and order the bits, will work great now that I have just got myself the 45mm macro :smile:
  12. applemint

    applemint Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 24, 2012
    Brilliant, thanks - I just ordered the bits from ebay so I can have a go. Total cost: £2.93 :smile: (excluding batteries and double sided tape).

    Got any sample photos using these lights, while I wait for my stuff to arrive from China?

    By the way, the seller from the link in the OP did not ship to the UK, so found the lights at another seller here, who does:

    The hotshoe cover I ordered from the seller linked to in the OP.
  13. hinata76

    hinata76 Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 21, 2012
    Holy Crap!!! this is GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  14. owczi

    owczi nareteV 34-uM Subscribing Member

    Unfortunately the light from these lights is not quite uniform, but great project anyway!

    Here's my alternative that comes from Ikea - slightly more expensive, less portable, but still at least half the price of MAL-1 and quite powerful! This can be even used for portraits.

    Ikea Jansjö: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20169658/ - this also comes on a clamp rather than on a base.

    Price is £/EUR/$ 9.99, it uses a detachable 4V power supply. Now all you need is to add a potentiometer to act as a dimmer, and some gel / paper holder and you have some nice macro / product photography lighting!
  15. Ritualnet

    Ritualnet Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 21, 2012
    UK - West Midlands
    Every so often the clamp versions of those Ikea lamps are reduced to a silly-low price. I picked up a silver one for £3, which I use to throw light on my... erm... hobbies.

    However, really good idea on the macro light! I'm tempted to do something similar, and it's so cheap that if it's only used a few times, you've not wasted anything!
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