What makes a good macro flash bracket? It needs to be able to firmly hold your flash and diffuser near the macro focus-points of your lens, whether you are shooting vertically or horizontally. If you want to include more of the environment, it should be able to account for more distant focus points. It must be quickly adaptable so that you can adjust it to your subject’s position, or to obstacles that may be in the way. Most importantly, it must lock down tightly so there is no shifting of the flash occurs while you are working.
In the past, many of my flash brackets were cobbled together from various parts that I had accumulated over the years, but in my workshops, I also like to be able to point to a few commercial options. Because I have not tested these, I cannot officially recommend them, but they may be worth looking into. For those interested in purchasing, I have placed a full list of the items B&H carries at the bottom of the page.
♦ The most recent I have come across is a new macro flash bracket by Kirk Enterprise Solutions. the first lacked adaptability, and they have now come through with a new model that addresses some of the issues that made the first one so irritating. It now sports a double-ball joint and a sliding flash attachment which makes the whole rig so much more adaptable.
“The new FB-UNV Macro Flash Bracket is designed for installing directly on the camera utilizing the 1/4 inch tripod mount threads. This bracket offers a deluxe joint system allowing unlimited positioning of your flash.”
Cost? US $225 as pictured or $239 with a QR plate.
♦ Wimberley is known for their quality tripod heads, and they also produce a flash bracket system. The rig begins with the Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ($169.00):
“The articulating arm on this bracket is comprised of two double ball and socket links that lock positively and offer a great range of flash positions. The bracket attaches quickly to your lens or camera body plate with a narrow Arca-Swiss style quick-release.”
This Wimberley system requires a bottom-plate, and a double-armed version can also be assembled.
♦ Then there is Really Right Stuff. A frustrating website to navigate, but it does seem to have some promise for off-camera macro flash, they just don’t make it obvious, and they don’t seem to bundle them together as a single package. Take a look at the image on top of the Close-up and Macro page, and then wonder why they only have macro rails pictured. You have to roam through the site to find the other ingredients to build your flash bracket, which is oddly pictured on the Flash Brackets for Telephoto Flash page.
The extendable arms and ‘rotate-ability’ would seem to make this rig particularly useful for long macro lenses, but how does it perform when hand-held?
♦ Novoflex is a well known German manufacturer of camera accessories, easily recognised by the blue-coloured elements in their equipment, and by their hefty cost. They carry a few types of flash bracket which may be useful for macro.
♦ A less well known macro flash bracket is Lucas Strobe Systems‘ Macro Flash Bracket. It uses multiple segments to create articulated arms, “…a new tool that gives maximum lighting flexibility to photographers in the macro setting. Designed by a photographer for photographers, the Macro Flash Bracket gives users full control over lighting while maintaining the stability needed for great shots…all with a unique collapsible design easy storage and quick assembly!”
This is probably best used with mid-size to small flash units, but it does seem to have some potential as a lightweight flash bracket.
♦ Perhaps one of the more bizarre macro brackets goes to none other than Manfrotto, the renowned Italian tripod manufacturer. It’s an old style, that falls in line with many old model flash brackets that insist on having the flashes mounted horizontally inline with the lens. However, Manfrotto’s 330B has a little quirky difference: the camera mount is moveable and can pivot up…
At $89.95 (Can.) it is one of the cheaper brackets, and one is tempted to purchase it just to see what can be done with it. Perhaps the addition of a couple of ball heads or articulating arms might make this contraption useful?
♦ And finally, for the budget minded–the eBay sensation–the squidgy-armed and ubiquitous dual-armed flash bracket. It should be sold for under $25 (including delivery), and you get what you pay for.
Although often pictured with large full-sized flashes, this unit is only suitable for small flash units, like the Canon 270 EXII or the Nikon SB-400. It may be useful to supplement and extend the wired Canon MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite Flash for more creative use. The ball-heads are small, and some may turn out of alignment, even when the ball is tightened securely. A spot or two of Guerilla glue may solve that. The base plate is aluminium and well-machined, and may hold promise to adapt for other uses…but that is another story.
Do you know of any other commercially available macro flash brackets? Please let me know in the comments!
Coming soon: how to make your own flash bracket
using only toothpicks and pipe-cleaners.
Direct links to B&H, the Professional’s Source:
- Wimberley Combo 2 Macro Combo Flash Bracket
- Wimberley Combo 3 Telephoto + Macro Combo Flash Bracket
- Manfrotto 330B Macro Flash Bracket
- Kirk Macro Flash Bracket with Quick Release
- Kirk Macro Flash Bracket
- Olympus FL-BKM03 Twin Flash Bracket for the Olympus E-System Digital SLR Cameras
- Novoflex Duo Flash Holder
- Novoflex Flash Bracket with Two Flexible Arms
- Novoflex Uniset Flash Bracket with Adjustable Rods
- Novoflex Flash Bracket with Adjustable Rods
- Polaroid O-Ring Dual Flash Bracket
(Note to manufacturers: anyone willing to donate a macro flash bracket to Splendour Awaits for field testing will receive a full and unbiased review on the blog. All donated brackets will be demonstrated and loaned for free to participants in my Alberta macro workshops.)