New flash setup for macro flower photography

Discussion in 'Macro, Flowers, Insects, and Greenery' started by fjp, Jun 14, 2005.

  1. fjp

    fjp

    50
    Mar 18, 2005
    The RRS flash brackets were originally designed to attach to a telephoto macro's tripod collar. If your macro lens didn't have a tripod collar, RRS couldn't help you. But now RRS offers a plate with an Arca Swiss-style clamp that lets you couple RRS flash brackets directly to the camera body. Check out the setup in the last image in this gallery:

    http://www.pbase.com/fjp/macro_flash_2005_06_14

    The flower pictures in this gallery were all taken with the setup pictured in the last gallery image, using the 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor, a macro lens without a tripod collar.

    I think this combination produces beautiful results. The flash is mounted in a position where it illuminates from above the subject, like the sun, and produces a strong, modeling effect, better for things like flowers than a ring flash, which gives a flattened appearance, even with the two tube variety where you can turn one tube off. I really missed the fact that I couldn't use my SB-21 on the Nikon D70. But for the kind of stuff I do, I greatly prefer th arrangement pictured at the end of the gallery.
     
  2. Jerry Snider

    Jerry Snider

    390
    May 8, 2005
    Frank,
    If you are referring to the RRS portrait flash setup, I totally agree with your analysis. Have been using it since it first became available and am extremely pleased with the results. The only problem I have found is that if you use a "footed" lens with a tripod mount you might find that it is difficult to rotate the camera unless everything is set up properly. Otherwise, this is a fine tool--even when used as a two flash setup.
    Jerry Snider
     
  3. fjp

    fjp

    50
    Mar 18, 2005
    I am referring to the RRS Portrait Perfect Package. This is a combination of a RRS flash arm and the MPR-CL, the latter allowing the connection of a camera body with L-bracket to a flash arm when the camera has a lens mounted without a tripod collar.

    However, I originally bought the RRS flash arm to use with a telephoto macro lens that has its own tripod collar with a lens plate having a double dovetail. In that case you connect the flash arm directly to that lens plate, without using the MPR-CL. In my case, I had a Tamron 180mm f/3.5 Di Macro lens, and that setup worked perfectly with the B85-B flash arm. There was no trouble at all rotating the camera.

    I'm not sure what you mean that it wouldn't work "unless everything is set up properly." Doesn't that go without saying?

    One problem you might have with the Portrait-Perfect package is if your flash arm is too small. They don't recommend the B85-B with a large pro body, like the D1/D2 series, as there might not be sufficient clearance depending on the lens you choose. I already had the B85-B and just ordered the MPR-CL, hoping everything would fit. It did, with my 105mm, f/2.8 Micro Nikkor.
     
  4. fjp

    fjp

    50
    Mar 18, 2005
    I am referring to the RRS Portrait-Perfect Package. This is a combination of an RRS flash arm and the MPR-CL, the latter allowing the connection of a camera body with L-bracket to a flash arm when the camera has a lens mounted without a tripod collar.

    However, I originally bought the RRS flash arm to use with a telephoto macro lens that has its own tripod collar with a lens plate having a double dovetail. I bought the double-dovetail plate from RRS, of course. In that case you connect the flash arm directly to that lens plate, without using the MPR-CL. In my case, I had a Tamron 180mm f/3.5 Di Macro lens, and that setup worked perfectly with the B85-B flash arm. There was no trouble at all rotating the camera.

    I'm not sure what you mean that it wouldn't work "unless everything is set up properly." Doesn't that go without saying?

    One problem you might have with the Portrait-Perfect package is if your flash arm is too small. They don't recommend the B85-B with a large pro body, like the D1/D2 series, as there might not be sufficient clearance depending on the lens you choose. I already had the B85-B and just ordered the MPR-CL, hoping everything would fit. It did, with my 105mm, f/2.8 Micro Nikkor. With a larger diameter lens, you would probably need the B87-B flash arm.
     
  5. fjp

    fjp

    50
    Mar 18, 2005
    I guess I don't know how to use all these buttons, as my post got sent twice, the first time without my corrections, the second time with. Sorry, everyone.
     
  6. Jerry Snider

    Jerry Snider

    390
    May 8, 2005
    I simply meant that when using the RRS portrait package with a lens having a rotating tripod collar that if rotating to the right (clockwise) the curved flash arm will hit the quick release clamp itself, or if the tightening knob is on the right side as some prefer, will hit the knob. The flash bracket, at least in my case, has to be shifted rearward as close as possible to the camera to eliminate this, making it difficult to reach the knob controlling the rotating collar on the lens. Proper setup is not a one way situation with this apparatus since the flash bracket can adjust anywhere the user wishes along the horizontal bracket, i.e. if the user prefers or needs the flash to be forward along the lens, then the situation I describe will occur, even with the B 87-B. You are absolutely correct that one CAN use the bracket with the telephoto IF one has the new double groove foot attachment or, if enough clearance, the screw in upgrade to the old foot. In any event, it requires yet another purchase. Even with this upgrade, the portrait setup for some (read ME!) is preferred since it provides a nice "arm" to help steady the camera.
    I meant nothing more than this and am very sorry that I apparently offended you or at least took you to task re the use of the latter. I agree with you, the RRS portrait package is simply a marvelous device as is all of the RRS items that I have purchased.
    No hard feelings,
    Jerry Snider
     
  7. fjp

    fjp

    50
    Mar 18, 2005
    Not offended at all!

    Wow, Jerry, did I come off sounding offended??? I'm so surprised to hear that! In fact, I wasn't offended at all, just asking for clarification on your reservation, so I can understand what might be happening.

    I'm not too clear about your new statement (but am NOT offended by it LOL): "if the user prefers or needs the flash to be forward along the lens, then the situation I describe will occur, even with the B 87-B." The following image shows the flash arm as far forward as possible and even with the B85-B there is no interference. So I remained puzzled, but not offended. (Forgive the quality of this image; at the time I took it, I only had one tripod so it was hand-held in available light. Still no excuse. Just didn't take the time to figure out how to do it right in spite of my handicaps.)

    40404013.av041.
     
  8. Jerry Snider

    Jerry Snider

    390
    May 8, 2005
    Frank,
    Only got the dreaded red X....no photo. Perhaps the B 85 will clear, however, the B 87 will not (at least for me). In the event the flash ring clears the clamp, it will hit the ball head prior to aligning vertically. Admittedly, if mounted on the foot clamp, there is no problem whatsoever. Using the portrait package with a rotating collared lens, it simply won't rotate to vertical. Indeed, I cannot rotate vertical in either direction, clockwise OR counterclockwise, when using the portrait package on a monopod or tripod and the B 87. It will only rotate in a clockwise direction if the flash ring is "scooted" to its closest position directly up against the camera to permit clearance behind the clamp. If the tightening knob on the clamp is on the left side instead of the right, then the flash ring will clear the clamp but hit the ball of the Arca Swiss ball head before it reaches vertical.
    This is the primary reason I finally purchased a new foot clamp. Indeed, had I purchased a foot clamp ca. 4-6" long I would be in great shape to use the portrait package in the manner I have described!!
    My best,
    Jerry Snider
     
  9. Jerry Snider

    Jerry Snider

    390
    May 8, 2005
    Sorry, Frank. Have finally called up your photo. I prefaced ALL of my comments re the use of the RRS complete portrait package, i.e. the horizontal side arm, etc. I thought that my message made that clear. Obviously it didn't. Of course, it WILL work like a charm if the flash ring is attached to the lens foot, as your photo indeed shows.
    Guess we've been talking apples and oranges here, and obviously you ARE using it with a correct setup. You are correct, I am incorrect.
    Jerry Snider
     
  10. JeffKohn

    JeffKohn

    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    My portrait perfect package arrived yesterday. I went with the B87-B to give myself "room to grow" (ie keep the dream alive that I might be able to get a D2X some day... :) ). The only problem with the larger bracket is that when mounted on my D70's L-Bracket with the flash oriented for horizontal shooting the flash isn't centered over the lens (it is when shooting vertical though). When mounted to a lens plate this isn't the case, and I assume that with a larger body it wouldn't be either. Still, I can live with that; the Stroboframe Camera Flip that I briefly tried had a similar issue (not to mention being very unwieldy and flimsy-feeling).

    My main reason for getting this bracket is vertical shooting for portraits/candids/etc. But playing around with it a little I can definitely see how it would be very useful for flash macro photography. Not only does the forward tilt allow getting the flash angled more toward your subject, but you can also position the flash anywhere along the bracket arm if you want the lighting to be a bit more directional (ie, mounting flash at 10:00 instead of 12:00). And if you wanted you could always mount two flashes. I definitely plan to do some macro shooting with my Sigma 150 and the SB-800 with lumiquest Promax mounted in the near future.

    My only regret is that my 70-200VR lens plate is from Kirk and doesn't have the double dovetail. Also, I still think the RRS stuff is overpriced. Yes, it's good stuff and well made, but the price doesn't really seem justified, especially on the lens plates and other stuff that doesn't even have moving parts and still costs so much. For instance I'd like to get a panarama shooting setup but from RRS it would be over $700 if you want full capability to shot multi-row panoramas. Even the basic pano elements package for shooting single-row horizontal panos is $365.
     
  11. Jerry Snider

    Jerry Snider

    390
    May 8, 2005
    Jeff,
    You are correct re the flash not being perfectly centered with the B 87. There is absolutely no problem when used that way from what I have been able to determine. I have two of the earlier RRS flash brackets and they also have a tilt head. They still work great. However, to use them you have to screw them to the foot bracket, thus they only worked with lenses that had such, or with their old style "clamping" rail. Forgot what the latter is called, but have one laying around here somewhere. The new clamp is innovative, for certain. Yes, RRS is expensive and, unfortunately, their products can become addictive!
    Jerry Snider
     
  12. fjp

    fjp

    50
    Mar 18, 2005
    I see the same thing. I don't know what's wrong. I previewed it and there was no dreaded red x, so I submitted it. Let me try again, only this time I won't do the now dreaded "preview":

    40404013.av041.
     
  13. fjp

    fjp

    50
    Mar 18, 2005
    Must have been a temporary glitch on nikoncafe. Now both images are back. Go figure.
     
  14. fjp

    fjp

    50
    Mar 18, 2005
    I should study these tags so I know what I'm doing. I'd like to intersperse quotes from you with my comments and I don't know how to do that, so I'll do my best.

    Took out your first paragraph, responding to the second, about macro photography. Here's an example, using the 105mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor. Okay, so the subject matter may be fatally boring (one of my wife's African Violets), but notice the modeling from the lighting:

    45092465.bp043.

    Regarding your paragraph on the RRS pricing. I guess I don't know what "overpriced" means in a market economy. If RRS is the only game in town, he will price stuff at what the market will bear. Who else makes flash arms as compact and rigid? I've had these unwieldy flash arms from other manufacturers and they just don't compete. When they do, the price will come down.
     
  15. Jerry Snider

    Jerry Snider

    390
    May 8, 2005
    Frank,
    Still don't see the photo with the RRS setup....dreaded red X. I managed to bring it up via other methods, however.
    Thanks
    Jerry Snider
     
  16. JeffKohn

    JeffKohn

    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    It still doesn't show for me either. You need to make sure that when you link to a pbase image directly you use the www.pbase.com/image/id URL, because if you link directly to one of the other pbase servers (misheli in your example) it may not work for everybody.
     
  17. fjp

    fjp

    50
    Mar 18, 2005
    It's very strange. It seems to come and go. The fact that it sometimes does show up tells me I did it right and the glitch is on the other end somehow. Maybe it's pbase.
     
  18. JeffKohn

    JeffKohn

    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Frank,

    I agree your shot shows much better modeling than you would get from the completely flat light of a ring flash.

    Regarding price, I guess I just mean that compared to other stuff I buy the pricing on the RRS stuff seems a bit out of whack. Maybe lower volume means higher production costs to some extent but that's also a self-fulling prophecy, volume could probably be higher if the pricing was more attractive. I just think there's a market potential for somebody to undercut these guys on price, it's a shame nobody's taken advantage of it.
     
  19. fjp

    fjp

    50
    Mar 18, 2005
    They do seem to have low volume, that's for sure. That probably has something to do with their high prices. It's interesting that what is now their flagship product, the BH-55, is not priced higher than the competition, but about the same.

    Regarding their other specialty items, there may be a market potential for somebody to undercut RRS. But the same can be said for Photoshop, yet no one does (Paint Shop Pro is more competitive with Photoshop Elements). It could be that no one competes with RRS and Photoshop because it is so difficult to do. Maybe there is no substantially cheaper way to compete. It just may be very labor intensive to construct their little gems. On simple plates and clamps, doesn't Kirk compete for about the same price range? But I looked over their site. They don't have all the robust, compact flash arms and accessories that RRS has. Maybe it's because they couldn't compete on price because of their larger overhead. Maybe -- I'm not sure of course -- RRS stuff really isn't overpriced.
     
  20. MontyDog

    MontyDog

    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
     
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