Head to head

Two light­ing sys­tems for macro shoot­ing – which is bet­ter, con­stant ring-light or close-up flash?

NPhoto - - Contents -

The R90 ring light is based on an ar­ray of 30 high-per­for­mance triple-chip LEDs. They’re ar­ranged in a ring and driven by a built-in recharge­able Li-ion bat­tery, and the kit is sup­plied with a quickcharger and car charger ca­ble, for charg­ing on the go. The cas­ing has a 77mm at­tach­ment thread, for screw­ing on to lenses with a match­ing fil­ter thread. Adap­tor rings are sup­plied, for at­tach­ment to lenses with a 52, 55, 58, 62, 67 or 72mm threads. The R90 also fea­tures a threaded socket, for mount­ing on a tri­pod. Typ­i­cal of con­stant LED lights, the max­i­mum out­put power is less than from the twin-flash Nikon kit. How­ever, be­cause it’s mounted to the front of the lens, which comes to a few inches of the sub­ject in macro pho­tog­ra­phy, il­lu­mi­na­tion is eas­ily suf­fi­cient. The Kaiser can run for two hours on a freshly charged bat­tery, even at its max­i­mum power set­ting. The con­stant na­ture of the light­ing en­ables you to see the ef­fect of the il­lu­mi­na­tion as you com­pose shots. It also works as a ring-light for por­trai­ture. Light qual­ity is good with a CRI 94 (Colour Ren­di­tion In­dex) rat­ing, and a 5500K colour tem­per­a­ture that re­mains con­sis­tent through the power range. Il­lu­mi­na­tion cov­ers a wide 110 de­grees, and the max­i­mum out­put is re­spectable at 2100 lux (30cm). This spe­cial­ist kit com­prises a hot­shoe-mount­ing SU-800 wire­less com­man­der/con­trol unit, two small SB-R200 Speed­light flash units and an at­tach­ment ring. Each com­po­nent is pow­ered by a re­place­able CR123A Lithium bat­tery. The multi-com­po­nent na­ture of the Nikon kit re­quires you to fit the wire­less com­man­der into the cam­era’s hot­shoe, at­tach the ring to the lens via one of the 52, 62, 67, 72 or 77mm adap­tor rings sup­plied, then fit the small flash heads to the ring. Al­though small, the pair of SB-R200 flashes de­liver enough power for close-up shots. Whereas the R90 has a full range of step­less power ad­just­ment, from zero to full power out­put, the Nikon can be ad­justed in small steps down to 1/64th max­i­mum power. Al­though it can’t be used as a ring-light, you can ad­just the po­si­tion and power of each flash tube sep­a­rately, en­abling a more three-di­men­sional ef­fect. The 1/1600 sec flash du­ra­tion also helps freeze mo­tion, and a stro­bo­scopic ‘re­peat’ mode is also avail­able. Great per­for­mance is en­hanced by the abil­ity to add ad­di­tional Speed­light via wire­less trig­ger­ing, and the sup­plied Speed­lights can be mounted on stands as well as the ring. The kit in­cludes dif­fusers and coloured fil­ters for bal­ance with ar­ti­fi­cial light.

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