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Eye Closeup



Canon 10D digital camera body, Canon MP-E 65mm Macro Lens and Canon MR-14EX Macro Ring Light

My first disappointment with my Canon 10D digital SLR was discovering that some of my Canon flash units (like the Canon 540EZ) that I used on my Canon film camera bodies did not work on my digital Canon 10D.  This was not a happy discovery. I do not mean that they work but with limited functionality. I mean they do no work at all. Dead! No response at all when mounted on the 10D. One of my first purchases after discovering this was to get a Canon 550EX flash unit (the Canon EX flash units work on the Canon digital camera bodies and the Canon EZ series flashes do not).

I have taken a lot of macro photos with a Canon 100mm macro lens and the Canon ML-3 ring light, but the ML-3 was also dead as a dodo on my Canon 10D body.  This also meant my Canon MP-E 65m macro lens was also left ring-flashless.

I worked around this for a while by using the Canon 550EX with my macro lenses and set the flash manually to the 24mm setting (to widen the cone of light output) and tilted the flash head down. This gave me enough light to use my 100mm macro lens and the 65mm macro down to a magnification of about 3X, but at 3X to 5X magnification I have to set the 10D ISO (digital "film speed") to 400 or 800 due to the limited amount of light at the outer edge of the light cone coming from the flash unit. This was a stop gap measure at best. All the light came from above - none of the control I was used to with my ML-3 ring flash.

I started looking online for a used Canon MR-14EX ring flash since a new one will set you back a chunk of change. No luck. No used MR-14EX anywhere.

Then I walked into my favorite Denver camera store a few weeks ago (The Camera Trader on Hampden Ave). There was a used MR-14EX on display and at a good price. I asked Kristen, the sales clerk, to show it to me. I put it on my 10D and manually held it in front of my 28-135 IS lens and took a picture. (The ring flash clips on to a groove on the front of Canon macro lenses, but other Canon lenses do not have this groove.) So far, so good. I quickly drove to my brother-in-law's place to grab my 65mm 1X-5X macro lens and hurried back to the camera store.

I mounted the ring flash on my 65mm macro lens and asked Kristen if I could photograph her eye. She agreed so I set the lens on 1X magnification and took the above photo. The photo looked great.  You can see the reflection of the flash unit in her eye. The two flash tubes were set at equal power for this photo. The ring flash can be rotated and the flash tubes can be set to any power ratio from 1:1 to 1:8, or either flash tube can be turned off.

I tried the 65mm lens and ring flash at magnifications up to 5X and all worked well. Needless to say, Kristen sold me the macro ring flash and I am one happy camper - or rather photographer.

Before I left the store, I took a more normal photo of Kristen with a 28-135 zoom lens, and a Canon 550EX flash bounced off of the ceiling to get a little softer light.

One more thing, if you end up at The Camera Trader in Denver, (2650 W Hampden Ave., Englewood, Colorado, 80110) say hello for me. Kristen will know who I am.

Bigger versions of both photos


October 29, 2003
Updated Jan 30, 2004

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