No half measures here!
My preliminary ramblings about the Canon 100mm macro focused largely on ergonomics with a quick peek at image quality.
One of the advantages of the 100mm focal length is the doubled – compared with a 50mm – subject to camera distance, making lighting issues easier. But I decided I wasn’t about to do things half way, so I checked into ring light flashes for the 5D. Well, Canon wants over $400 for theirs to which all I could politely say was “No thank you”.
So a quick visit to that repository of thieves, cutthroats and crooks known as ePrey was called for and, lo and behold, simply dozens of ring flashes were on sale. After weeding through the offerings I finally found one which used a real flash tube (rather than poncy, underpowered, LEDs) and, best of all, mated with the ETTL circuitry in the 5D to make just about everything automatic.
$120 and a few days later UPS dropped it off. It comes with three adapter rings, the 58mm one of which fits the 100mm Macro. Look closely and you can see there’s a real flash tube in there:
The body takes four AA cells and looks suspiciously like the body of a Vivitar 283 flash gun. Recycling time is 3 seconds with fresh alkaline batteries. The foot has a nice screw retainer and you can see the contacts for ETTL in the base:
Here’s how the whole thing looks on the 5D – the power supply and tube are incredibly light, weighing less than the lens itself.
Once the base ring, which rotates freely on the flash tube body, is threaded onto the lens, the tube assembly is free to rotate and, if you think about it, that’s no problem. The base ring has nice, coarse serrations for a proper grip and protrudes just above the body of the flash tube – nice.
Use is simplicity itself. ETTL balances exposure between flash and camera automatically, the lighting is shadowless, and all you have to do is frame and press the button. If the flash is in range the green LED on the rear illuminates after the picture is taken to show all is well. It would have been nice if it did this with the first pressure on the shutter release, but, heck, ‘film’ is cheap in the digital age, no?
Suffice it to say that the whole thing works perfectly out of the box, at one quarter of the price of the Canon branded device. OK, so the finish is more GM than Toyota, but at that price, who cares?
And because even our six year old could take sharp snaps with this little combo, here’s one which mixes sharp and blurred, courtesy of ETTL, which has mixed flash and regular light by using a slow shutter speed, adding blur to a subject swaying in the wind. Choice of a low ISO setting compounds the blur.
5D, 100mm Macro, ring flash, 1/100, f/6.7, ISO 100