Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Macro flash rig  (Read 897 times)

shadowblade

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2839
Macro flash rig
« on: December 30, 2019, 05:13:26 am »

Due to a number of upcoming trips where I'm likely to be shooting a lot of macro at night (Borneo and Madagascar), I'm looking to upgrade my macro rig from a dual-head system to a three-speedlight system.

Dual-mini-head systems are great for portability, for the occasional macro shot, but don't seem to quite cut it in terms of power or flexibility for macro-heavy trips - they can struggle when shooting at f/16 or f/22 (really f/32 or f/44 at 1:1 magnification) unless you pump up the ISO, and don't cope well with softboxes. So, I'm looking to build a rig that will hold three speedlights - one key light (with softbox), one fill light and a third light to use either as a rim light or to illuminate the background (to alleviate the black background problem commonly seen in macro). Preferably full-sized flashes (e.g. Godox V1), but possibly the smaller ones (e.g. V350), which are more portable, but still much more powerful than typical dual flash systems.

The problem is finding a way to hold all three flash units at the same time - particularly the flash that will be used to light the background or as a rim light. This will have to extend out behind the subject, illuminating it from behind, so will need to be on the end on a long arm. Putting it on a separate light stand or tripod isn't an option, nor is having a second person hold it - it needs to be a single rig attached to the camera, that can be held (if awkwardly) in two hands.

Does anyone have experience with the long, flexible flash arms like this one from Novoflex, or this one from Manfrotto? Well-built, solid arms from reputable companies, not cheap eBay Gorillapod-type arms. Will they hold a full-size Speedlight extended to full length? Or will I have to use a smaller flash unit (e.g. V350, Canon 430EXIII, etc.)? Or are they totally inadequate for the task and I'd have to resort to solid arms with lockable joints (e.g. the Wimberley macro arm)? Putting larger flashes on solid arms close to the camera, then putting a small one on a long, flexible arm won't work - the flash illuminating the background usually needs to be much more powerful than the ones illuminating the subject. Does anyone have any other macro flash rig that will hold multiple full-size flashes?
Logged

Martin Kristiansen

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1527
    • Martin Kristiansen
Re: Macro flash rig
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2019, 06:12:24 am »

I have that Manfrotto arm. Itís bloody tough and would hold A V1 flash. I can try it with the V1 which I also have but I think it will hold. The arm is also very durable, I have been using mine for 18 years. It is heavy though. Manfrotto make another arm which is solid pieces of tubing with joints. That is lighter and gets into odd positions easier and is also longer. Itís just a bit slower to use than the gooseneck arm. The gooseneck is also not very long but for macro should be OK. Be a bit short to hold a rim light I think.
Logged
Commercial photography is 10% inspiration and 90% moving furniture around.

shadowblade

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2839
Re: Macro flash rig
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2019, 07:45:13 am »

I have that Manfrotto arm. Itís bloody tough and would hold A V1 flash. I can try it with the V1 which I also have but I think it will hold. The arm is also very durable, I have been using mine for 18 years. It is heavy though. Manfrotto make another arm which is solid pieces of tubing with joints. That is lighter and gets into odd positions easier and is also longer. Itís just a bit slower to use than the gooseneck arm. The gooseneck is also not very long but for macro should be OK. Be a bit short to hold a rim light I think.

Good to know. I think the Novoflex goosehead is a bit lighter - not sure of its weight capacity, though. Do you think the Manfrotto would hold a V1 or other full-sized speedlight at full length (i.e. with the flexible arm horizontal)?

What's the name or model number of the rigid/jointed arm you're referring to?
Logged

Martin Kristiansen

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1527
    • Martin Kristiansen
Re: Macro flash rig
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2019, 08:41:47 am »

I am fairly certain that it would hold the V1. But I think putting too many accessories onto the V1 could cause a few issues. Perhaps, with macro distances smaller flash heads would be better? The other arm is called the Magic arm. My model is a bit older and slightly different to the one currently shown when doing a google search. I use it a lot with product photography.
Logged
Commercial photography is 10% inspiration and 90% moving furniture around.

shadowblade

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2839
Re: Macro flash rig
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2019, 09:05:49 am »

I am fairly certain that it would hold the V1. But I think putting too many accessories onto the V1 could cause a few issues. Perhaps, with macro distances smaller flash heads would be better? The other arm is called the Magic arm. My model is a bit older and slightly different to the one currently shown when doing a google search. I use it a lot with product photography.

A background light, rim light or kicker probably wouldn't need any modifiers for macro photography anyway. Only the key light (and maybe the fill, if one is used) needs one, and they're usually closer to the camera, not at the end of a 50cm long arm. The background light, in particular, just needs to be as powerful as possible, since the background it's lighting up is likely to be many times further from the light source than the subject is from the key light.

It looks like the current Magic Arm is heavier than the gooseneck...
Logged

Bart_van_der_Wolf

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 8911
Re: Macro flash rig
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2019, 02:11:10 pm »

Due to a number of upcoming trips where I'm likely to be shooting a lot of macro at night (Borneo and Madagascar), I'm looking to upgrade my macro rig from a dual-head system to a three-speedlight system.

Dual-mini-head systems are great for portability, for the occasional macro shot, but don't seem to quite cut it in terms of power or flexibility for macro-heavy trips - they can struggle when shooting at f/16 or f/22 (really f/32 or f/44 at 1:1 magnification) unless you pump up the ISO, and don't cope well with softboxes. So, I'm looking to build a rig that will hold three speedlights - one key light (with softbox), one fill light and a third light to use either as a rim light or to illuminate the background (to alleviate the black background problem commonly seen in macro). Preferably full-sized flashes (e.g. Godox V1), but possibly the smaller ones (e.g. V350), which are more portable, but still much more powerful than typical dual flash systems.

The problem is finding a way to hold all three flash units at the same time - particularly the flash that will be used to light the background or as a rim light. This will have to extend out behind the subject, illuminating it from behind, so will need to be on the end on a long arm. Putting it on a separate light stand or tripod isn't an option, nor is having a second person hold it - it needs to be a single rig attached to the camera, that can be held (if awkwardly) in two hands.

Does anyone have experience with the long, flexible flash arms like this one from Novoflex, or this one from Manfrotto? Well-built, solid arms from reputable companies, not cheap eBay Gorillapod-type arms. Will they hold a full-size Speedlight extended to full length? Or will I have to use a smaller flash unit (e.g. V350, Canon 430EXIII, etc.)? Or are they totally inadequate for the task and I'd have to resort to solid arms with lockable joints (e.g. the Wimberley macro arm)? Putting larger flashes on solid arms close to the camera, then putting a small one on a long, flexible arm won't work - the flash illuminating the background usually needs to be much more powerful than the ones illuminating the subject. Does anyone have any other macro flash rig that will hold multiple full-size flashes?

I would start composing a rig based upon this:
https://www.reallyrightstuff.com/b85-qr

The challenge is with the background flash, but the RRS system is modular and flexible enough to combine parts that can later also be repurposed for other contraptions and situations. It won't be cheap, but it will be a joy to work with, I'm sure.

Cheers,
Bart
Logged
== If you do what you did, you'll get what you got. ==

TonyVentourisPhotography

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 391
    • Unlocking Olympus
Re: Macro flash rig
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2019, 02:32:37 pm »

Wimberley makes some interesting arms too.  I used to connect these to an RRS rail connected to my camera L bracket.  The problem I had was it started getting heavy.   And it was just two lights.  If a tripod is involved, that might change things.
Logged
Tony
Unlockingolympus.com (ebooks & blog on getting the most from your OMD & Pen)
tonyventourisphotography.com (Commercial Photography)

vulture

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 90
Re: Macro flash rig
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2019, 02:40:11 pm »

I've got the Novoflex rig with 2 flexible flash arms and a base plate. The arms are strong enough to hold Canon 600 EX III at full length, only the base plate is a bit weak with the two arms and flash heads attached.
Logged

shadowblade

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2839
Re: Macro flash rig
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2019, 11:33:34 am »

I've got the Novoflex rig with 2 flexible flash arms and a base plate. The arms are strong enough to hold Canon 600 EX III at full length, only the base plate is a bit weak with the two arms and flash heads attached.

Do you have the long 18" arms or the short 10" arms?

Base plate isn't such a problem - just need something with a few 0.25" holes in it to hold the arms
Logged

vulture

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 90
Re: Macro flash rig
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2020, 02:18:37 am »

18" arms.
Logged

shadowblade

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2839
Re: Macro flash rig
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2020, 07:48:54 am »

18" arms.

Great - I suspected the short arms would hold the weight at full length, but wasn't sure that the longer ones would support both the flash and the associated mini ballhead. Any significant sag or movement, or is it rock-solid?

Are you using the Novoflex macro bracket, or a different one?
Logged

vulture

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 90
Re: Macro flash rig
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2020, 06:17:05 am »

Great - I suspected the short arms would hold the weight at full length, but wasn't sure that the longer ones would support both the flash and the associated mini ballhead. Any significant sag or movement, or is it rock-solid?

Are you using the Novoflex macro bracket, or a different one?

No bracket. Base plate with the arms plus mini ball-heads.
Some small swings when working with a longer macro lens (Voigtlšnder 2.5/125 mm) with the arms bent closer to the subject and moving.

Logged

vulture

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 90
Re: Macro flash rig
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2020, 07:04:44 am »

Here is the rig.
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up