Is a cheap ring flash a waste of money?

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by flamingfish, Feb 12, 2015.

  1. flamingfish

    flamingfish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    771
    Nov 16, 2012
    Emily
    I'm a complete noob when it comes to lighting, other than trying the clip-on flashes that came with my E-PL3 and E-M5, deciding that they're pretty much useless, and tossing them back in the box.

    I'm thinking that I'd like some supplemental lighting for macro with my E-M5 and Oly 60mm. There's a major (indoor) flower show around here in the next few weeks. I'd like to try some shots, but the lighting is always pretty poor. Would a cheap ring "flash" (which is more likely to mean an always-on LED light than a true flash) be a waste of money? If not, is there anything I should be aware of when choosing one?

    If you think it's not worth the money, what would you recommend for a first "starter" flash? If there's something relatively inexpensive that would be useful for indoor shots as well as macro, that would be great.
     
  2. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
  3. kingduct

    kingduct Mu-43 Veteran

    301
    Oct 12, 2013
    I'm sorry, I'm going to go off-topic here: I got into m4/3 photography because the refurbished E-PL1 was dirt cheap. I got my first prime lenses for my camera because the Sigmas were dirt cheap. I've only paid slightly more to move up to a G5 with a couple of other lenses. This statement just rubbed me a bit wrong.

    With that said, I am interested in the original question of what is a good starter flash, because I myself don't know.
     
  4. flamingfish

    flamingfish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    771
    Nov 16, 2012
    Emily
    Both of these are adapters for a speedlight. I don't have a speedlight, or any light other than the little flashes that come with the cameras.

    If the conclusion is "get a speedlight," any recommendations for a budget speedlight, or advice on choosing one?
     
  5. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I've been somewhat dubious about these LED flash units, but with the latest surface mount diode (SMD) technology, they can be surprisingly effective. The problem is which one do you buy, as there are so many options from extremely cheap to not so expensive. I wrote a thread about what I was doing, but it's all consolidated here: http://australianimage.com.au/wordpress/?p=4136. It's something that you could investigate and try to make yourself (not difficult) and it's a very versatile solution for a variety of uses.
     
  6. Mercurio

    Mercurio Mu-43 Veteran

    253
    Jul 17, 2012
    Bogotá, Colombia
    Mauricio
    I have the same interest and equipment than you do, so I decided to buy a cheap ring "flash" to give it a try:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008RBD2YA/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I haven´t used it yet, so I can´t give you my opinion. On the other hand, I recently took some flowers shots with indoor available light at a botanical garden, with some success:
    https://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?t=72290&highlight=botanical+garden
     
  7. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    A good cheap method of lighting with the 60mm macro lens is by using a white card as a reflector with the camera's included flash. It works well. Or else white paper can be held at the end of the lens as a diffuser & that is effective too. I suggest trying both to see how effective these methods can be.
     
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  8. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    Hi
    totally .... I bought one for SnG (that's S__ts and Giggles) and it more or less fell apart quickly and didn't even sync properly.

    Get a used good condition Metz or something like that

    yes, GN (or Guide Number ... look it up here). The higher the better. Beware that not all GN are the same, as flashes with zooming heads "cheat" their GN by stating it at the tele end and its as weak as piss at the wide end (and therefore also in bounce).

    This is (one of) my Metz flashes.

    http://cjeastwd.blogspot.com/2008/09/metz-on-my-coolpix-newer-isnt-always.html

    as a noob you may find that post useful too...
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    As the saying goes, buy cheap, buy twice.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I think that needs to be put into product context, as expensive doesn't always relate to best quality. The camera rails that I now buy are far cheaper than the Novoflex ones I have, yet are much better in my opinion, even more so when it comes to L brackets. The $25 dot sight vs a $300 one (or even the Olympus $129 unit) appears to be quite good, it's very solid and currently works as it should. People are also buying Yongnuo flash units, which are substantially cheaper than Olympus units, and consider them to be quite good.
     
  11. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    "cheap" is different than "inexpensive". I'm using cheap in the not well built definition. Inexpensive as in not costing a lot of money.
     
  12. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    Find a good, used after market Nikon SB-24/SB-26/SB-28
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    One could say, "Yeah, look at Canon!" :tongue: :biggrin:
     
  14. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    655
    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    Mike
    I tried an LED ring lamp once. On reflective subjects the individual LEDs can show very clearly in the image. Might not be an issue with flowers, but it put me off...
     
  15. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales
    I was very fortunate to pick up one of these.
    An Oly SRF-11, for use with my EM1 amd 60mm, as new for under half price.
    Still not 'inexpensive' though, but a fabulous piece of kit.

    Picture borrowed from Google Images.

    15917343018_a95e53541d_o. RF-11 by Dave in Wales, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2015
  16. ManofKent

    ManofKent Hopefully still learning

    789
    Dec 26, 2014
    Faversham, Kent, UK
    Richard
    I was bought one of these cheap macro LED ring lights:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Photography...qid=1430368045&sr=8-1&keywords=led+ringlights

    The battery compartment is horribly cheaply made, but the main unit isn't bad. Made by the ubiqutous JJC. Not very powerful (but of use). You can switch to just one side for a little side illumination. It does lift flowers in the shade reasonably well, but the reflections in rain droplets are a little obvious... Not bad for the money and I can see me using it occasionally.
    HERB_ROBERT_WET2.
     
  17. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    well given that it didn't jump out at me when I first looked at it (and thought it was well balanced) and I only noticed it when I looked for a half circle hilight I think perhaps you're just knowing what to look for.

    I agree that if its cheap its actually a good tool.

    I've been using my phone from the side ;-)
     
  18. Ted

    Ted Mu-43 Regular

    79
    Oct 10, 2014
    Tasmania, Australia
    Theo B
    Are these continuous light or does the camera trigger it? They are very cheap (though don't ship to Australia).
     
  19. ManofKent

    ManofKent Hopefully still learning

    789
    Dec 26, 2014
    Faversham, Kent, UK
    Richard
  20. Pannonica

    Pannonica Mu-43 Rookie

    10
    Mar 29, 2015
    Last edited: May 1, 2015