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DIY Foam ringflash for 35mm macro

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  • DIY Foam ringflash for 35mm macro

    Anyone using the 35mm macro knows that while its nice that it goes to 1-1 macro, illuminating the subject at that magnification is near impossible.
    Natural light is too often shaded by the lens and the working distance is too short for a flash sitting at the edge of the flash.
    The ring flash works great with the 50mm but has to be handheld with the 35mm.
    Part of the problem is that the the front optic of the lens is smaller than the barrel, Idealy the light should come from that area.

    I came up with this today. Firing a fl 20 down into a foam ring mounted on the front of the 35 mm.
    This is what it looks like.

    You will notice that the fl 20 is mounted off to one side. Thats because the light emitter is on one side of the flash.

    This is the foam tube I got the ring from.

    I use the on camera adj for flash output to control the fl 20.

    Here are some results with the ec 20/ 35mm on the E 3

    Studio shots

    Dead fly

    the eye of a humming bird moth

    A lilac bloom

    Some live shots around the porch light.

    Tiny beatle

    Head shot of a Lace wing

    A midge

    Who knows lol

    This technique may work for other lenses too.


  • #2
    Re: DIY Foam ringflash for 35mm macro

    Hi Jim -

    Thanks for the idea. One thing could lead to another.

    I must say a couple of your shots made me shudder. Some were real close.

    Regards. Barr1e


    • #3
      Re: DIY Foam ringflash for 35mm macro

      Olympus makes a tube-like widget to attach the Olympus ring flash or macro twin flash to the ZD 50mm and 35mm macro lenses. Like all of these things it isn't cheap - $99 from B&H!

      Your solution looks plenty workable, gives demonstrably good results and is a lot cheaper. Thanks for sharing the tip

      My website:

      EM-1, E-3, E-500 | ZD 12-40mm, 12-60mm, 50-200mm, 70-300mm, 60mm Macro, 35mm Macro, 20mm Pany | FL50R & Metz 48 AF-1 Flash | Manfrotto tripod & monopod, Gorillapod


      • #4
        Re: DIY Foam ringflash for 35mm macro

        That's a very interesting - and cheap! - idea.

        I wonder if it would improve the light output if you covered the non-emitting area of the "diffuser" with shiny foil?

        What sort of settings did this setup give you? I did try a third-party ring flash with the 35mm when I had it - waaaay too bright at "proper" macro distances. Unfortunately, it broke before I got my Sigma 105mm, and I haven't got around to fixing it.

        I wonder if a FL50 would be too powerful?
        Hugh of Bardfield
        Essex, UK


        • #5
          Re: DIY Foam ringflash for 35mm macro

          Very, very cool. And workable. Thanks for the reasonable solution.

          Now as to subject matter..........

          Chrs, Stv
          Please visit my lonely photos at


          • #6
            Re: DIY Foam ringflash for 35mm macro

            Hi guys, I am glad you like my idea. I'll try to answer as best as possible.

            The widget Sinbbo spoke of is the adapter for the Oly ring flash, it works great for the 50mm but at closest focusing with the 35mm it is usless.

            The setting on the live insects was 100 iso, 1/250, f 16. I started out using the 330 but it is limited to syncing at 1/160 and controlling the out put was hard. there is also only two steps of adj in the cameras flash control, the E 3 has 3 steps each way.

            I've though of lining the back of the tube with foil, it might help on the outside too. I have thought it might be good to line it inside of the tube so there isn't defracted light bouncing around in there.

            I choose the 20 because the emitter was so small, and the ring has to be thin. I would think if you could adapt a fl 50 to the task by making the top of the ring thicker or by capping the lens of the 50 to allow for a smaller emitter space.

            As for adjusting the 50, you would be able to use both the cameras +/- and the flashes own controls together to control it.

            You could also take fiber optic cords and run them from the onboard flash right into the foam.

            I'll keep you up dated.