Macro Photography on the Cheap


For the last year or two I’m been busy viewing videos about photography—specially about macro photography.  I marveled at the view of weird-looking creatures like flies, wasps, butterflies, insects, worms or small cubes of sugar or salt.  How could they do that?  How could they capture a honey bee covered with hairs that look like fur?  It was a wonderful spectacle to watch.  Macro photography rocks!

The only problem is that the gear to do that is so expensive, or at least that is what I thought.  Until, out of the blue, one rainy afternoon I happened into a YouTube video created by Marius van der Westhuizen.

Marius is the author and host of the Digital Today Photography website, where you become the master of your camera.  On his episode 27, he skillfully detailed how you could get your toes wet with macro photography without paying a bundle.  The gear that he suggested in this video was the Travor RF-550D macro LED ring flash which can easily be had at Amazon online for $27.95.  Even with my budget constraints this great was within my reach.  Faster than a blink of the eye, I clicked into Amazon online  and ordered the device on October 20, 2014.  It was delivered by Aeropost from Miami, FL to Panama City, Panama on P.M. October 29, 2014.

This R-550D marco LED ring flash is specially designed to use in the field of macroshot, scientific research, medical and personal photography in a very close distance shooting. It can provide continuous and stable semi light or full light to meet higher photograph needs. The plastic gadget also includes 8 Mounting Rings (49-77mm) and consist of 48 pieces LED, higher luminance and lower static power consumption.  It is ideal for any model of Nikon or Canon brand DSLR.

With a pounding heart, I opened the box yesterday afternoon. With the help of the manual and reviewing Mr. Westhuizen’s video, I was able to unpack the gadget, assemble and mount it on my DSLR camera.  I pressed the On button for five seconds, and device came to life.  Everything came out fine, exactly as instructed in the Owner’s Manual.

Even though Neewer says it’s a ring flash, it is not.  It’s a ring light.  It’s also very cheap and feels cheap.  The plastic feels weak and fragile. Therefore, if you are not careful handling it, it can easily crack with a slight fall to the ground or a bang against a solid surface.  On the other hand, you get what you pay for.  There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Contents of the box:

  • One macro ring head with 48 small LED lights
  • One power control with LCD display
  • Eight (8) adapter rings:  49, 52, 55, 58, 62, 67, 72, and 77 mm
  • Four (4) flash diffusers (orange, blue, oyster white and transparent

The main specifications of the ring flash are:

  • Effective distance:  15-150 centimeters
  • Sync speed:  1/100 seconds
  • Power rate:  Semi Power and Full Power
  • Power:  Four AA batteries
  • LED:  48 PCS
  • Color temperature:  3000-15000k
  • Weight of the kit:  Approximately 200 grams
  • Origin of the product:  China
  • Brand name:  Neewer (Copyright)

Below are several pictures of the unpacking of the LED ring flash.  I still can’t believe the kit was so inexpensive. Screwing the flash holder to the lens is a bit tricky due to the low quality of the plastic.  You have to be extra careful or you’ll run the risk of ruining the thread of the plastic adapter.  Other than that, everything is pretty much intuitive.  Now, here we go.

Snapshot of the box containing the LED ring flash marketed by Neewer through Amazon online. The cost of the product was $27.95 FOB Miami, Florida. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
This is how the LED ring flash looks like when it is properly mounted on the hot shoe of a DSLR camera. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of four diffusers included in the Neewer kit. I prefer to use the oyster white color. This will be my first experiment using the LED flash. The colors are: transparent, blue, orange and oyster white. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of the eight lens adapter included with the kit. The diameter size for my Canon 50mm prime lens is 52mm. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of the Neewer 48 macro LED ring flash light and an orange diffuser. Due to the strong light from the side window, the diffuser looked yellow. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of the kit inside the box covered with plastic. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of the macro LED ring flash light properly mounted on my Canon DSLR camera. Notice the oyster white diffuser adapted to the Canon 50mm prime lens. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of a back view of the Canon DSLR camera with the macro flash light installed. I had the power turned on to see if it worked. Everything seemed to be working properly. Soon I will taking my first shots with it and see if it’s worth its salt. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

This is another step up the ladder of my hobby as a photographer.  Can’t wait to take my first macro pictures with it.  Good Day.

2 thoughts on “Macro Photography on the Cheap”

  1. There is a macro lens that I wish I could buy. It’s the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro USM lens which has a price tag of $599.00. The top of the line is the L quality one (it has a red ring to distinguish it as a high quality lens) sells for $1,049.00. Ouch!

    I can’t pay that much, so for the time being, I’ll use the Neewer gadget and experiment with it until until the time is right to escalate to a more expensive lens.

    Have a great day! 🙂

    Omar.-

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