Lighting Options for Macro

JamJamJamJam Posts: 2Member
edited November 2013 in General Discussions
I am trying to decide the best way to improve the lighting for my macro shots. I have a D7000 and a D60 as well as a Nikon 105mm f/2.8 lens. I am primarily looking for something to help me take better flower and insect shots out in the field. Here is a link to my Flickr photos tagged with that lens:

I know that there are many options for macro lighting including ring lights, but I have narrowed my options to something like the Nikon R1 system with the two smaller flashes positioned at the front of the lens or using a traditional Nikon flash, such as the SB700 both on camera with a large diffuser as shown here:

and off-camera via a Wimberley F2 macro arm as shown here:

The Nikon R1 is ~$450 whereas the SB700 is ~$300, the Wimberely F2 is $169 + a couple of plates/adapters I would need are $85 & $69 for a grand total of ~$600. Obviously, there is a cost difference which is not the biggest deal to me. I am more interested in knowing which one people would recommend and which might be easier to learn. I know next to nothing about using a flash but would like to take the winter to learn before next season's spring wildflowers emerge.



  • ElvisheferElvishefer Posts: 329Member
    edited November 2013
    When I was first getting into Macro I went on a similar quest and I wound up with an R1C1 kit with an extra sb200 (I think that's the model number for the flashes), and two SB900s and a SB910, in that order.

    The SB200s are great for some macro shots and terrible for others. One thing that really bothered me about them was the catch lights they'd create in whatever insect I was shooting. It just looked messy. They could be cleaned up in post but sometimes when working with a multifaceted eye, cloning out a catch light was quite the job.

    I decided to try working with larger flashes and they solved the catch light problem for me. I would use one light with a diffuser of some sort large enough to create a light boxish light on the subject - the catchlight was so big, there didn't seem to be one.

    The R1 was great because of the SU-800, which I use on its own with Pocketwizard Flex5s to control the SB900/910s for all kinds of shooting. It was also good because it's a relatively portable way to keep your lighting together if you're going to move around a lot. It feels like a bit of a cannon on the front of a 200mm f/4 though.

    I think today, if I were to do it again, I would stick with the big flashes and look at accessories like those offered by RSS for off-camera flash. (Similar to the Wimberley set up you link to).

    And for a dose of reality, check out the gear used in this guy's video (55 seconds in). I think the angle of his light source relative to his subject helps a lot - and would be leaps and bounds better than the second link you posted...

    Thomas Shahan

    I guess in the end I spent a lot of money I didn't have to, and while I don't regret having the gear my R1 kit sits on the shelf whereas the other stuff gets used. Good luck with your decision!
    Post edited by Elvishefer on
    D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 24-70mm f/2.8, 14-24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4G, 200mm f/4 Micro, 105mm f/2.8 VRII Micro, 35mm f/1.8, 2xSB900, 1xSB910, R1C1, RRS Support...

    ... And no time to use them.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,536Moderator
    Please do a search before posting new threads. Here is one that you would have found if you had:
    Always learning.
  • JamJamJamJam Posts: 2Member
    Sorry about that. I did a search but I think I searched for macro flash as opposed to lighting and didn't see your thread. Thank you to both of you for the links though.
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    This has been useful. It is causing me to question the wisdom of the R1 along with the 200mm F4 Macro. Maybe use my SB910 along with one of those arms and a diffuser?

    Or maybe larger diffusers for the SB-200s? The R1 might not accommodate that though?
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,536Moderator
    @Jam-Jam: No worries. What you can take away from all you read here is that it is fun to try it. During bad weather you can just throw stuff on a table and play with your flash and judging by Thomas Shahans results, you don't need to spend a fortune - or another way to look at that is that like with all gear, you can spend a fortune and still not get great results.
    Always learning.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited November 2013
    I use the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 lens on a D800
    I have the RI plus an extra head
    I use an SB900 as the master plus up to 2 other SB 900s as fill in
    as with most subjects you need different lighting for different situations
    it very much a case or trial an error to find a setup to get the results you want
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
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