No matter what anyone says a standard speed light or external flash is not suitable for macro photography. Use a standard speed light on the camera, i.e. on the camera’s hot shoe, and the lens will cast a shadow over the subject that is impossible to light. Use the speed light off camera and you’ll find you have to place it a long way from the subject to make sure there isn’t any flash over exposure. If you want to light a subject easily and efficiently when taking close up and macro photos you need a specific macro light.
There are two basic macro lights available, a ring light and a ring flash. A ring light is a continuous light that is either on or off, regardless of when you press the shutter button. A ring flash, on the other hand, is a strobe light that fires when the shutter button is pressed.
If you want to take macro and close up photos of insects and mini beasts you need the ring flash rather than the ring light. If you have no desire to capture photos of insects and living creatures a ring light will suffice. Personally, I would recommend the macro ring flash since it is the most versatile of the two.
You can buy very cheap macro ring flashes from eBay and Amazon, such as those made by Neewer, however I would avoid these cheap and nasty products. I got caught out in the past and bought a Neewer ring flash and it was terrible. It was poorly made, it misfired often and gave up the ghost after a few short weeks.
The top end ring flashes, such as those made by Canon and Sigma, are very good but they are expensive. Fortunately, there is a macro ring flash that does everything the Canon and Sigma ring flashes do but they are a fraction of the price. The macro ring flash I am referring to is the Yongnuo YN-14EX. The Yongnuo YN-14EX is based on the Canon and Sigma ring flashes and it does everything they do, and it works in exactly the same way too. Where the YN-14EX differs to the Canon and Sigma ring flashes is, as already sated, in the price. The YN-14EX is affordable, represents great value for money and is the macro ring flash I recommend.
Below is a short video clip demonstrating the pros and cons of the Yongnuo YN-14EX ring flash 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.