Canon MR-14EX Macro Ring; My First Flash

Christmas Cactus Detail

My rather amazingly awesome Mom — the same one who recently taught me how to make pies — and totally awesomely amazing Dad — the same one who schooled me on all things gardening, patience, and dealing with a wife — sent me a slightly early birthday present; a Canon MR-14EX Macro Ring.

It attaches to the front of some — but not all — Canon lenses and effectively illuminates the subject with a typically even, shadowless, light.

Typically even?

Yes — it actually has two flash elements positioned opposite each other in the ring. The unit is highly configurable and, via the controls and LCD, the unit can be configured to vary the intensity of the two flash lamps to create a light gradient from one side of the image to the other. This includes being able to turn off one lamp entirely.

I simply could not have taken the picture at left without a ring flash.

Bromeliad Flower

I still have not a clue what the heck I’m doing with this flash. For example, if I toss my Digital Rebel XT (XTi being the latest model) into Av (Aperture Priority) mode, then the shutter speed is silly slow. But in Priority (automatic) mode, the shutter speed defaults to 60 — typical of the on-board flash.

And I haven’t even started truly messing with the various features of the flash itself. Hell, I’m currently in baffled mode by how the flash is integrated with the camera. Adding more variables isn’t going to help right now.

It also integrates with other Canon flashes, acting as a remote trigger master wirelessly.

Clearly, I need to spend more time on strobist. Coincidentally, strobist had a DIY coffee can ring flash instructions just this morning that I was reading when my wife handed me the gift from my mom & dad.

Ruby, Fully Charged

One of the tricks to eliminating red-eye in photos is to move the flash off the line between lens and eyes. Which is why built-in flashes always produce monster red eye; the lamp is right above or just to the side and above the lens.

Of course, a ring-flash is designed to sit directly on the focal line of the lens. It maximizes red-eye.

Thus, it is a perfect way to turn any puppy into Supercharged Laser Dog!

11 Responses to “Canon MR-14EX Macro Ring; My First Flash”

  1. mom bum says:

    Happy Birthday Bill, the gift is from your father and I! We went over your high end wish list together and instead of the Ferrari we chose this.
    Mom and Dad

  2. ncodding says:

    This page: details more than you probably want to know about Canon’s EOS flash system. It’ll certainly explain what you’re seeing in Av mode.

  3. John C. Randolph says:

    I think these are far better pictures than you could get with a Ferrari.


  4. Vivek G says:

    Very cool. I’ve always thought this would be great to get for macro photography, but have delayed and delayed. I’m looking forward to seeing how your photos turn out so I can see if I should get one too!

  5. Amie says:

    A very merry early birthday! Can you believe my wee brother, who shares your day, is turning the big 2-1? Poor bastige has finals that day, too! But I know he has plans to make up for that fact soon. 😉

    Awesome shots with your new flash; I can’t wait to see what you’re capable of once you figure that bad boy out!

  6. Charles says:

    Ooh, I’ve been lusting for that ringlight. I saw a configuration with two smaller external flash units, it seemed designed for working on a copystand (one of my most common tasks). But I wondered if maybe the ringlight would be sufficient by itself. So could you do me a favor, take a ringlit picture, tightly framed, of a regular newspaper page and let me know how even the lighting is across the whole field. I’m doing a lot of copywork of old tabloid newspapers, dual page spreads of 11×17 pages, a single regular newspaper page is about that same size.

  7. Josh Marshall says:

    When shooting with flash as the main light, set the camera on M, set your shutter speed to 1/200 (the flash sync speed), since this doesn’t affect the exposure, then change the aperture as needed to get the appropriate tradeoff between depth of field and amount of flash power you need.

    The setting in Av mode is designed such that it chooses a shutter speed to expose for the background and then uses the flash for your main subject, to avoid the normal “black background and nuked people” effect. You can change this, in the custom functions. C. Fn. 3 sets the flash sync speed in aperture priority auto mode to a fixed 1/200 second or leaves the sync speed on auto/slow sync. Then you’ll get the behaviour I’ve described in the first paragraph.

  8. bbum’s weblog-o-mat » Blog Archive » Ring Flash-o-riffic says:

    […] I had mentioned before, my ultra-cool Mom & Dad gave me a ring flash for my birthday. The Canon MR-14EX Macro Ring or the “battery eater”, as I call […]

  9. John says:

    Canon MR-14EX – good choice for newbies 🙂 Good luck

  10. bbum’s weblog-o-mat » Blog Archive » Awesome Battery Charger (with Total Crap UI) says:

    […] house that eat AA batteries (and a handful of AAA batteries). LED flashlights. Wii Controllers. The Canon macro ring flash. Various remotes. Toys. […]

  11. bbum’s weblog-o-mat » Blog Archive » Reflections on a Black Widow says:

    […] ring like reflection is the ring flash on my the Canon 100mm macro lens used to take the picture. The bluish-white blob to the right of […]

Leave a Reply

Line and paragraph breaks automatic.
XHTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>