Canon macro ring flash MR-14EX II – product review

 
Macro photography is a great possibility to express your creativity and it’s a lot of fun e.g. shooting flowers and plants. But also in macro photography you will have situations where you won’t have enough light so set a shutter speed fast enough to make photos hand held. Of course, a tripod would be helpful. But what if the subject itself is moving, e. g. an insect or a flower swaying in the wind? In this case, a tripod would be useless. A speedlite is surely the suitable solution. But a normal flash is useless in macro photography because it sits on the top your DSLR. One solution could be to fire the flash remotely. Another one is to use a ring flash which would probably bring the most value. Therefore, I’d like to introduce in this article the Canon Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II*. So read on, folks.

The design of the ring flash

In contrast to normal external flashes which consisting as a single part, the ring flash consists of two parts. The first part is the control unit which you put on the top of the camera by sliding it into the flash hot shoe, and fixing it with a lever. The second part is the flash unit which you need to clip onto the end of the macro lens (or any other lens). Some lenses (like Canon’s 100mm Macro Lens* or the 180mm lens) require adapters, because the lenses have different diameters.

These two parts are connected together with a coiled cord.

The flash part

The flash itself consists of two flash units which can be controlled separately  (if needed). A great feature are the two assist lamps on the flash. Turning them on, you would be able to enlighten the subject for 20 seconds for focusing purposes. After 20 seconds the lights turn automatically off.

The control unit

Firstly, the control unit has a great contrast adjustable LCD panel which provides an instant view of your settings. You can choose between green or orange background of the LCD panel.

Using this ring flash, you can of course benefit from the ETTL feature to expose your photos automatically. If you don’t like to use the ETTL mode, you can also switch to the normal manual mode to get full control.

Just beneath the LCD screen, you will find four buttons. With these buttons, you will get some great extra features I will show you right now:

C.Fn-button: With this button you can set up to 12 custom functions (like auto power off, test firing, focusing lamp, etc.) with 27 options. Additionally, you can create 3 individual functions like the brightness of the focusing lamp, contrast of the LCD display or the color of the LCD panel.

+/- – button: In combination with the “Select dial”, you can adjust the flash exposure compensation up to 3 stops in 1/3 stop increments

FEB – button: This abbreviation stands for “Flash Exposure Bracketing”. With it you can make great HDR photos by taking three photos with different light strength

SYNC – button: this is my favorite feature. Actually, SYNC means high-speed synchronization. With this, you can shoot at very high shutter speeds. For with a normal flash, you can shoot usually at shutter speeds of 160 up to 180, depending on the manufacturer. With those shutter speeds, it would be pretty hard to unpossible shooting subjects which are moving fast, e.g. insects. Take a look at the pic below, folks. Here I used the SYNC function and was able to shoot the two insects in the left side and freeze them sharply in the photo.

 

Control the flash tubes separately with the ratio button

When you press the radio button, you will be able to control the each of the both flash tubes separately which are named tube “A” and tube “B”.  This allows you to expose parts of photos where only one side needs to be made brighter. It’s also possible to let both tubes to flash at different individual power.

Using the ratio button you will also see, that there is even a third tube controllable (letter “C” on the display). As the Canon ring flash MR-14EX II has two tubes, it becomes obvious that the “C” stands for a third flash which can be used remotely. With this feature you can not only expose the subject but also make the background brighter when you use a third flash remotely.

Power consumption of the ring flash and recycle time range

The MR-14EX has a full recycle time between 0.1 to 5.5 seconds, depending on how much power is remaining in the capacitor. This leads us to the next great function of this ring flash, the so-called quick flash function. It allows you to fire the flash before the capacitor is completely charged again. The range of the quick flash cycle is about 0.1 to 3.3 seconds.

This Canon ring flash is powered by four AA batteries*. Depending on the light intensity you use during your shoots, you would be able to get between 100 and 700 flashes (used with 1900mAh batteries). Another useful feature is the external power supply which makes the work with this device once more professional.


I introduced to you the main functions and features of the Canon Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II. Below you will find a list with more functions and advantages this device will provide you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

With the Canon’s ring flash MR-14EX II you will get a professional and excellent product. But here I say the same I said in my article about the Canon 100mm macro lens: if you an absolute beginner, you maybe should by a cheaper ring flash (e.g. from Yongnuo), as Canon’s one has it’s price. Of course, if money plays a minor role, you will not be disappointed by purchasing this ring flash with a lot of useful functions. The picture quality is great (presumed, you know how to use this gear), the high-sync function makes you addicted to shooting pics of insects, and the exposure bracketing will provide you a chance to make great HDR photos.

By the way, check out here my flowers gallery I partially made with the 100mm macro lens and the MR-14EX II, folks.


*Affiliate link: when you click on this link, no additional costs would arise for you and the product or the service will not become more expensive. When you decide to buy the product or use the service, I’ll get a little benefit from the provider which I would reinvest to keep this blog alive.

What is TTL in flash photography?

ttl mode, ttl mode in flash photography, flash photography ttl mode, ttl flash, what is ttl, what is ttl mode, ttl mode whats this

If you would like to shoot photos with a flash, you need to know your gear. Otherwise, it will happen that your pics look ugly and flat even with an expensive external flash. Luckily, there is a method beginners can use to train the skills in flash photography. This method is called TTL and in this blogpost I’ll give you some explanations about TTL. You will also get some information about the pros and the cons of TTL. In total, the whole topic TTL is about how much control of your camera you want, or how much control you want to give your device.