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The best macro ring flash for Nikon reviewed

Updated on April 26, 2013

Macro ring flash to improve your macro photos

What is the best macro ring flash for Nikon? Macro and close up photography involves capturing digital images that are detailed and intricate and often contain things that you can't see with the naked eye. The world of macro and close up photography is an awesome place.

Lighting is important in all types of photography and the same rings true for macro and close up photography. In fact, lighting is more important in macro and close up photography than many people seem to realise.

You can use a conventional flash gun when taking macro and close up images however using a specific macro ring flash will produce better results each and every time. Choosing the best macro ring flash for Nikon can be a challenge however this lens is designed to help you out somewhat.

If you need some help in choosing the best macro ring flash for Nikon make sure you carry on reading.

Nikon R1 Wireless Close Up Speedlight System

If you shoot a Nikon digital SLR camera and want the best macro ring flash money can buy for it the Nikon R1 wireless close up speedlight system is the product for you.

Unlike conventional ring flashes that consist of two rows of lights the Nikon R1 consists of two separate flash lights, each of which can be independently controlled. It is possible to position each light separately and vary the power output of each individual light which gives you the ultimate control over the lighting to help you get the lighting effect you want.

The possibilities with the Nikon R1 are endless and it is an awesome tool in capturing stunning macro images. The build quality is second to none and it can only be described as bullet proof. It is tough and durable and will give many years of trouble free service.

The Nikon R1 is not a cheap bit of kit however it is well worth spending the additional money to buy one. It is an excellent flash light that will definitely improve you macro shots no end.

Sigma EM-140 macro flash

Sigma is well known for manufacturing top quality flash guns and the Sigma EM-140 DG is no different. The Sigma EM-140 DG is a conventional macro ring flash, i.e. it consists of separate flashes that join together to make one. Each of these flashes can be independently set and controlled which allows you to vary the power output of each one and create some stunning lighting effects. The Sigma also has through the lens metering, which will ensure you get perfect exposures.

The Sigma EM-140 DG is a superb product that is very well made. It is tough, sturdy, durable and will provide many years of trouble free service, provided you look after it of course. It really is a top quality product.

The Sigma EM-140 DG is cheaper than the Nikon R1 however it will still set you back a few hundred bucks so it can't be described as cheap. If you want the best value for money the Sigma EM-140 DG is the macro flash to buy. The Sigma EM-140 DG is very easy to use and you will be up and running in no time.

Overall, the Sigma EM-140 DG is an excellent macro ring flash for Nikon digital SLR cameras and the next best thing to the Nikon R1.

Phoenix Smart Flash RF46N macro flash

The Phoenix Smart flash is a conventional macro flash light for Nikon digital SLR users. The Phoenix Smart flash has through the lens metering technology which will help you get your flash exposures spot on each and every time. The Phoenix Smart flash does not have variable power output, which is a shame however you can make slight alterations using the flash exposure compensation dial on your camera body.

The Phoenix macro flash is totally made out of plastic and, therefore, is light weight although it does feel more like a child's toy than a serious piece of photography kit but don't let this put you off. The Phoenix Smart flash may feel fragile, however if you look after it you will get many years of good service. You just can't be too rough with it.

The Phoenix Smart flash is cheap and cheerful so you can forgive the overall build quality, which isn't quite as good as that of the Sigma macro flash or the Nikon R1. If you are on a tight budget or don't want to spend too much money on a macro ring flash for your Nikon digital SLR camera the Phoenix Smart flash is something you should definitely take a look at. Overall, this is a good macro ring flash if you can't afford a Sigma or the R1.

Bower SFD14 macro flash

The Bower digital macro ring flash is the cheapest macro ring flash for Nikon digital SLR cameras, therefore it is the best option for those on a really tight budget. If you read some review on the Bower macro flash many users comment on how poorly made this flash is. Compared to the R1 and the Sigma EM-140 DG, the Bower does feel inferior. In fact, if you compare the Bower to the Phoenix macro ring flash it feels inferior but given the price of the Bower this is to be expected. Unfortunately, You don't get a top of the range macro flash for a few bucks.

Even though the Bower is cheaply made it does work very well and provides adequate light for macro and close up photography. The Bower doesn't have through the lens metering technology neither does it have variable power output, but given the cost of the Bower macro flash this is not at all surprising.

The Bower macro flash is not as good as its rivals but if you don't have the money to buy top of the range macro flash units or don't want to spend too much money on top of the range macro flash units the Bower is an excellent choice. The Bower works very well and does exactly what it says on the tin.

Macro lenses for your Nikon ring flash

In addition to the macro ring flash you also need a specific macro lens to capture true macro and close up images. Sure, you can use any lens but not all of them will result in a 1:1 reproduction, but a genuine macro lens will. The best macro lenses for Nikon cameras are Nikon branded, and if you buy a Nikon branded macro lens you can be sure it is going to be of high quality and be compatible with all Nikon digital slr cameras. For the best Nikon macro lens check out the products below.

Nikon 105mm f2.8 macro lens

The 105mm is Nikon's flagship macro lens, and when you see what this lens is capable of it is easy to see why. If you want to take photos of insects this is the lens to do it

Nikon 85mm macro lens

The 85mm is a great macro lens, but it doesn't have the wide 2.8 maximum aperture, which is a shame. That said, how often do you need a 2.8 aperture for macro photography?

Nikon 40mm macro lens

The 40mm macro lens is ideal for those on a budget. If you take images of still life subjects you will be fine, but it is not suitable for insects.

Nikon 60mm macro lens

The 60mm macro lens sits between the 40mm and the 105mm. It is a very good lens and whilst you will be able to capture some insect shots it is going to be difficult. You won't have any problems with still subjects though.

Additional reading to improve your macro photography

If you want to improve your macro photography and take your macro and close up images to the next level I highly recommend investing in a good macro photography book. You do need to remember that simply reading on its own is not enough and you will have to experiment and practice too. For some top selling macro photography books, all of which will improve your macro photography skills, check out the books below.

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