A standard speed light isn’t suitable for macro and close up photography. I mean, if you use the speed light in the camera’s hot shoe fitting the lens creates a shadow over the subject which is impossible to light.
If you take the speed light off camera you are either tethered to the flash via a sync cord or you have to hand hold the flash, both methods of which leave you one handed, which is not ideal.
Standard flashes and speed lights are too powerful for macro and close up photography and even when you reduce the power down to the minimum setting it is often too much light and you get over exposure and ugly hot spots.
The bet type of light for macro and close up photography is a ring flash. A ring flash is a low powered flash, so over exposure and hotspots aren’t a problem, that screws in to the end of the lens, which means the lens can’t cast a shadow over the subject.
The top end ring flashes, such as the Canon MR-14EX and the Sigma EM-14, have all the necessary features but they are damn expensive, and you are going to have to dig deep to buy one. This is not ideal if you’re on a tight budget.
There is an alternative ring flash to the Canon MR-14EX and the Sigma EM-14 that does everything these two ring flashes do but at a fraction of the price. This ring flash is made by Yongnuo and is the YN-14EX macro ring flash. The YN-14EX has the same features (manual mode, TTL mode, different lighting ratios etc.) and is just as powerful, however unlike the Canon and Sigma ring flashes the YN-14EX is easy to use and is super cheap. To put it in to perspective I can buy 5 Yongnuo YN-14EX ring flashes for the cost of one Canon MR-14EX.
The Yongnuo YN-14EX isn’t as tough and robust as the Canon MR-14EX or the Sigma EM-14 but this is to be expected. After all, Yongnuo had to cut corners somewhere to keep the price low. The YN-14EX may not be as bullet proof as the Canon and Sigma ring flashes but it is still very well made and will last, provided you look after it. I have owned by Yongnuo YN-14EX for several months now and it is as good today as the day I took delivery.
Below is a short video review of the Yongnuo YN-14EX that may be of interest.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.