Saturday, 18 January 2014

Using the Nissin MF-18 Macro Flash

Hi All,

Long time no blog ! Apologies for that. Unfortunately work and home take priority especially over the Christmas period. 

For a while I've been looking for a macro flash unit. Sadly the pukka Nikon is over £500 and is somewhat prohibitive especially as I don't do a lot of macro work.

Whilst browsing the webpages of Harrison Cameras over in Sheffield I came across the Nissin MF-18 unit. The thing that struck me immediately was that it was a Nikon compatible flash with the ability to run in TTL and, when required, act as a master control with the Nikon CCS system.

I decided to purchase one at £230 and finally, now that the Christmas festivities are over, I've managed to start using it. This blog entry is my initial tests and thoughts. 

The unit comes in a very nice case making everything accessible. 

As can be seen from this image the unit comes with several adaptor rings to fit various lenses plus the control unit and flash head.

I only have one macro lens and that it the Sigma f2.8 

This lens has served me well in the past but unfortunately comes with a 55mm filter thread which is one of the (Optional extra) sizes that don't come with the Nissin. However an inexpensive 'step-up' ring soon got past that little issue.

I purchased a small plant from a local garden centre for 50p (A posy I believe) and decided to make that the first victim of the Nissin.

I set the flash unit on my Nikon D300s and mounted that on my Manfrotto tripod. 

I carefully set up the little plant in front of the camera and flash unit. 

Setting the camera to Aperture Priority I selected an aperture of f11 and the camera automatically set the shutter speed to 1/60". Shooting in RAW I set the MF-18 to AUTO setting. This means that the camera controls the exposure but no additional compensation or alteration can be performed. 

At this setting I took the first image, As you can see below the image came out a little darker than I was expecting.

As I usually shoot a 'to the left' i.e. slightly under exposed this wasn't really a worry although I would have liked it a little lighter. As I was using a 50mm macro lens the subject has to be very close to the lens and I think that caused the flash to close down a little sooner than it needed to.
However a few seconds in light room  and the problem is immediately eliminated.

The next setting to try was the TTL mode. This is similar to the auto mode except that both positive and negative EV compensation can be performed and also either side of the flash head con be independently controlled in stages allowing additional control of the light. As with the AUTO setting the initial exposure was underexposed. 

However using the same exposure settings but adding a plus 2 EV compensation gave completely different and altogether more pleasing results.

Having found a flash setting I liked I decided to experiment with the different setting by switching the different sides of the flash head off. First the left hand side off then the right hand side off.

Once I'd finished trying the different TTL setting I started taking different views of the plant to see what I could get. The images below have been corrected in Lightroom and cropped where necessary but no additional filters or software has been used.  

Full Single Flower

Centre of the Flower


All Flowers

Leaf Tip

Leaf Body

Twin Flowers

The MF-18 Flash unit has several more modes including 'MANUAL', 'FINE MACRO' and 'COMMANDER' mode. Hopefully I'll get the time to try these out and post the results in due course. 

See you soon. 


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