A ring flash is a great tool for macro and close up photography and I would choose a ring flash over a speed light in an instant for any close up photography.
When taking photos of subjects close to the lens the lens acts as a shield and casts a shadow, which if the speed light is attached to the camera’s hot shoe will not light. A ring flash sits at the end of the lens between it and the subject, which means no shadows.
Standard speed lights are powerful and taking close up and macro photos often results in over exposure, i.e. too much light, even when the flash power is dialed right down. Ring flashes are low powered, typically having a maximum GN of 14m which can obviously be reduced as necessary to avoid any over exposure.
There are cheap ring flashes available on various internet sites, such as Amazon or eBay however I would recommend staying away from these. My first ring flash was a cheap model, one made by Neewer, and it was utter garbage. It was made from low grade plastic and components, it didn’t fit in the hot shoe very well (i.e. it was loose and wouldn’t lock in to position), it was manual setting only, and after five minutes of use it stopped working. Trust me, don’t waste your time with a cheap ring flash.
The top end ring flashes, being the Canon MR and Sigma EM flashes are expensive but they are very good and do exactly what they should do. Fortunately, there is no need to spend loads of money on a ring flash, as there is a n affordable ring flash that works in exactly the same way as the Canon MR and Sigma EM models, and has all the same features as well. The ring flash I am referring to is the Yongnuo YN-14EX, and below is a short video review you may find interesting.
The specification of the YN-14EX ring flash is as follows:- GUIDE NUMBER (ISO 100) – 14M/ ZOOM HEAD – NO/ TTL AUTO EXPOSURE – YES/ HSS – NO/ MANUAL – YES. 1/1 – 1/64/ FLASH EXPOSURE COMPENSATION – YES/ WIRELESS TTL TRANSMITTER - YES/ COVERAGE – 360 DEGREES/ POWER – 4 X AA BATTERIES/ MINIMUM RECYCLING TIME – 0.1 – 3.0 SECONDS/ WEIGHT – 420G
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.