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Speedlights for Macro Workshop

This page offers information for photographers interested in the Advanced Macro with Speedlight workshop.

Speedlights, or flash guns, or compact strobes, or whatever you want to call them, are small flashes that allow you versatility in lighting, especially when used "off-camera".

The only requirement for the workshop is that you have a flash that allows for manual control of the power, or brightness of the light. If you already own a speedlight, it probably has the ability to control the light output manually.

Recommended Gear

I like the Yongnuo brand of portable flash equipment, for a couple of reasons: First, they are inexpensive, which means if one breaks then I am not out $400 or more! Second, they work really well. I have 4 Yongnuo lights and use them hard, and I have even dropped a couple, and they continue to work perfectly.

If you have any question sabout compatibility withyour camera, read this page and use the contact form to ask questions. Make sure to mention your camera's make and model number!


Most camera manufacturers make their own brand of portable flash, and the ones I've seen and used are great, but I don't need many of the bells and whistles they include, and I can buy 4 to 8 Yongnuo flashes for the price of one of Canon's or Nikon's!

For this workshop you will need a speedlight that has manual control, and with a head that swivels and tilts, so that you can point your light in a direction other than straight ahead. The YN560-III is such a light. The YN560-III has a built-in receiver so that it can be used with a Yongnuo flash controller, off of your camera. The flash controller mounts to your camera's hot shoe, and sends a signal to the flash to fire.

The YN560-III will work on just about any camera that has a standard hot shoe mount. Canon and Nikon DLSRs usually have standard hot shoes, but some other manufacturers may have their own hot shoe specification. Some Sony cameras, for example, use an incompatible mount, and would require a special adapter. Use the , if you have a question about your particular camera's compatibility.

Manual Flash Controller

The YN560-TX is the controller I recommend, because it allows you to change the power of a YN560-III directly from its interface, which is useful if your flash is out of reach. For example, if you get more interested in using speedlights on light stands, away from your camera, it gets tedious each time you want to make an adjustment to the speedlight, because you have to go to the light to make the change. With the YN560-TX, you can control the power of your lights from the controller, which mounts on your camera's hot shoe!

The YN560-TX is a simple transmitter, as far as your camera is concerned; it doesn't have to deal with the complexities of "TTL" or your camera's automatic flash exposure capabilities, because you control the power, manually. Because of this, the YN560-TX should work with just about any camera that has a standard hot shoe mount. I have used it on Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and others. In only one case have I put it on a camera with a standard hot shoe mount and it would not fire the flash, andevven then, I didn't fiddle with the photographer's camera to see if I could get it to work.

While I do recommend the YN560-TX controller, it may not be for everyone. If you'd rather have a more compact option, that is also a little less expensive, then you can use any of Yongnuo's RF-603 or RF-602 wireless transmitters.

Flash Modfiers

The last thing you'll need is something to modify the quality of your flash's light output. Un-modified light is hard and ill-suited to macro photography.

For macro, I love using the ExpoImaging Rogue FlashBender 2 Reflector; it's light and mounts to any speedlight, and it's a good size for controlling the light near small objects.

The panel is flexible, and can be shaped however you like, to control where the flash's light goes. ExpoImaging also makes a softbox attachment for the reflector, which makes the light even more diffuse.


All of the links open in a new window, and all point to Adorama.com, for convenience.

The prices displayed below are from June, 2015, and may have changed.

YN560-III speedlight - ~$65.00

YN560-TX for Canon* - ~$45.00 OR YN560-TX for Nikon* - ~$45.00
* I don't think it matters which you get, either will work on just about any camera with a standard hot shoe mount

FlashBender 2 Large Reflector - ~$40.00
FlashBender 2 Large Reflector and Diffuse panel - ~$65.00

As you can see, you can put together a pretty convenient and reliable macro speedlight system for a little more than $150!

I chose all of these pieces because they are good quality at a good price, and they are pretty easy to carry and use. If you have any questions use the contact form.

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