Are the cheap Phoenix ring flashes useful?

Discussion in 'Macro Photography' started by ntenny, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I've been playing with a Canon EOS 100/2.8 macro lens (the non-USM version) and some extension tubes, and finding that I end up working close enough to the subject that a conventional flash doesn't work very well due to the lens shadow. So I'm pretty sure I need a ring flash.

    The Canon ring flashes are pricier than I can justify, but there are some inexpensive Phoenix models. Online reviews are wildly split between "wow, this is great!" and "this is a useless piece of junk!", which isn't that helpful.

    The Phoenix RF46 seems to run about US$90, which I can countenance spending. For that price I don't expect Leica workmanship or extremely high output, of course, but if it works as advertised---fires when triggered, doesn't fall apart under normal handling, works with Canon TTL modes---then I'd be happy. Has anyone worked with this flash enough to shed some, er, light?

    Thanks

    -NT
     
  2. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I have an old Vivitar ring flash that I am rather happy to use when macro subjects demand even lighting.

    Sorry, I have not needed to look for a new ring flash for the last 20 or more years.
     
  3. T-grain

    T-grain Member

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    Nathan, did you consider the option to put your flash off-camera? TTL flash cables are very cheap today-I got mine from ebay for 20 euros or so (it is just some wires put together after all....)
    i use the 550 ex with the EOS50 and works nice, very nice-with some effort I can illuminate objects nicely even beyond 1:1
    I could use my macro setup with the EOS5 (film), but actually the EOS50 (a recent buy) has a better TTL flash metering (E-TTL instead of A-TTL) and the transparencies come out just exquisite!
    and you can still play around with some small light reflectors
     
  4. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Look at getting a Sunpak DX-8 or DX-12. Used, not a whole lot more than the Phoenix you're looking at, and with the right module you can have TTL metering, too.
     
  5. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Hey, those Sunpaks look like a terrific idea. I hadn't thought about using a cord off-camera, and actually I believe the original 480ex won't take a PC cord, will it? I've got cable-able flashes, I've got Canon TTL-capable flashes, but I think the intersection of the two is empty.

    The Sunpak module that has the TTL "brains" is standard across all their flashes, right?

    -NT
     
  6. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Not every Sunpak could use the modules (they made some pretty small and simple flashes), but so far as I know, all the ones that took modules took the same ones. Of course, there were different modules for different camera makes.
     
  7. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    Sunpaks are unreiable vs YongNuo, new YN flashes are much better imho.. I had 3x 433 models break on me. They burn out. I prefer manual power flashes anyway though. YN = cheap for new and reliable, RF602 transmitters (RF-603s shouild be out too) = awesome they work with my RB67 too.

    In any case, Ring Flash Adapter is what you want. Slides on an existing flash and pipes the light around a ring around the lens.
     
  8. CGW

    CGW Member

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  9. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Not had any problem with Sunpaks, myself. They're all old ones-don't know about the newer ones. Also my Pentax flashes were made by Sunpak; no problems with those either. Problems with one model don't necessarily mean problems with another, but as I said, I don't know about newer ones.
    IMO those adapters suck. Big clumsy things, and no way to turn off one half, except to mask it.
     
  10. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    Good morning, Nathan;

    There are two ring flash units here; a Minolta 80PX and a Sunpak DX-12R. And, now that I think of it, I need to get both of them out together and look at them. There could be a much stronger family resemblance there than I originally thought.

    The DX-12R is the one I have been using the most lately. It does have the adapter rings for 62, 67, and 72mm. If I cannot find the 49, 52, 55, 58, and 77mm adapter rings, I might buy some step-up rings and take them to a machinist to have them turned down to fit into the ring flash mount.

    So far, the DX-12R has been working fine for me. And, my Sunpak 120J, 422D, and 544 have all been working fine. So have the Vivitar, Promaster, Minolta, Metz, and even the venerable Honeywell-Heiland 600C.

    Of all of the electronic flash units I have (and there are a lot of them), the main problem has been my forgetting to take the batteries out when putting them away, and later learning that the old batteries have leaked and I need to clean the corrosion off the metal parts in the battery compartment. This is not a fault of the flash unit.
     
  11. Jennychoo

    Jennychoo Member

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    thanks :smile:
     
  12. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I have and have used a Sunpak auto DX12R for a number of years with no problems. Another approach would be a Manfrotto macro bracket flash #3278. You could set the arms at different angles for different effects or at 45o for even shadowless lighting especially with reflective subjects which tend to show the circle of the ringflash. It would work with most any flash and probably all you would need would be a couple of cheapo units and appropriate pc cord or a small slave.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/