Why the GODOX V series Speedlites are perfect for Flash Macro photography

Why the GODOX V series Speedlites are perfect for Flash Macro photography

Macro Photography with Flash

If you want to take great macro photos of live, moving specimens, like insects or spiders, there is one essential component, an absolute must-have, that will bring your photos to a new level: the Speedlite / Flash.

Why is a flash so important?

There are some challenges when it comes to photographing small, live specimens.

Movement

Do not get me wrong, you can shoot wonderful macro photos without ever using a flash. It all depends on the subjects you are photographing, the situation you and them are in, and your esthetic approach.

Get up early in the morning and you can find butterflies and countless other insects sleeping.
You can setup a tripod and take beautiful photos with available light. Even focus stacking is possible if subject and camera are completely still.

But what if the wind blows, or even more challenging, the subject is moving?
Maybe it is a tiny spider, that is frantically running around, in leaf litter, with bad lighting conditions. There is no chance to get such a photo with your camera on a tripod.
It will most probably not even be close to being a sharp photo.

The solution to this dilemma is using a flash.
Macro photography with flash has several advantages.
Besides being more flexible with an on-camera flash, it enables you to get tack sharp photos of moving subjects.

An Acorn weevil getting ready to take off. Without using a flash, capturing the unfolding process would hardly be possible.

The burn time of the flash is so short, that it literally freezes motion.
You will be able to photograph any moving insect or spider in almost any situation and focus on composition and other aspects instead.
Even a shaky hand will not result in an unsharp image, as the burn time is just too short for this to affect the shot.

If there is one ingredient for tack sharp macro photos of live specimens, then it is using a flash.

You can find an article about Macro Photography with Flash here, soon.

Lighting

Another important aspect of macro photography is the lighting.

I have mentioned bad lighting conditions in the ‘movement’ section already, but let us see why a flash can improve these conditions.

If you are aiming for an all-natural look in your macro photography, then using only available light is probably the way to go.
But that does not mean it is always the best choice. There will be lighting scenarios where you will simply not get a good photo with only available light.
Using a flash for mixed lighting would be an option – for example lighting a butterfly with your flash, while exposing the whole scene for an available light sunrise.
This will work particularly well for static scenes. It will, however, not work with fast moving subjects, as the scene is constantly changing.

longhorn beetle in front of Lion´s head at sunset
An example of mixed lighting in macro photography: the Fig tree borer longhorn beetle is lit with a flash, while the scene is all natural light and shows a sunset in Cape Town, South Africa.

Insects and spiders are difficult to predict and you will often encounter them in challenging lighting scenarios, hidden in cracks, rushing to their hide-outs, sitting in places where the sun literally never shines.
The only solution to get these photos is using a flash.

You simply bring your own fixed lighting scenario with you, wherever you aim your camera – sharp photos guaranteed (as long as you get your focus right).
Add a professional diffuser for soft lighting to the setup and your photos will not even look like a typical photo taken with flash.


Requirements for a flash used for Macro photography

To be honest, using a speedlite can, and most probably will, enhance your photos a lot, but it is integral to also have an effective diffuser to produce even and smooth lighting on your subject.

Features of a good flash for macro photography would be – at least for me:

  • compact size
  • high power output (although most of the time you will want to dial the power down a lot)
  • fast recycle time
  • easy menu / manual mode
  • focusing light / modelling lamp

For focus stacking it is important for the speedlite to have a short recycle time and to provide a continuous power output, which mainly depends on the batteries used.
While standard batteries will provide less power the closer they get to their end-of-life, there are some rechargeable batteries that manage to provide a relatively stable power output throughout their cycle.
I have used sets of eneloop rechargeable batteries in all kinds of speedlites for a long time and they have always been my favorites!

The GODOX V series Flashes

That was until I bought a GODOX V860 II and realized their chargeable Li-ion batteries were even more effective.
Since then I have been a loyal user of GODOX and added the GODOX V1 with its round flash head (for my bigger Canon 5DII FF Setup) and the very compact GODOX V350 (for my Olympus OM-D EM-1 III MFT Setup) to my gear.

The Godox V flashes combine a lot of innovative and helpful features, some integrated in all the flashes and some being a key feature of a specific model.
From a magnetic accessory kit to a quick-lock and a modelling lamp – these flashes have been designed very thoughtful and focus on actual usability and intended use.

You can find my REVIEW on the GODOX V1 for Canon, which i think is one of the best Flashes for Macro Photography, here.

While GODOX is known for producing both quality and innovation, which shows in the many features of their products, the chargeable Li-ion battery is a common feature of the V series.
In my opinion this is a first-mover advantage when it comes to on-camera flashes.

The many benefits of this battery make the V series Flashes the perfect choice for Macro Photography.

Why do i like the battery of the GODOX V series Flashes so much?

No more fiddling and fumbling 4 batteries in the flash.
You just need one single battery now.
The V1 and the V860III do not even have a battery cover: the battery itself seals the flash.
A button releases the battery and inserting it back in place is done within the blink of an eye.

With its latest model, the V860III Godox introduced an upgraded battery, which is also interchangeable with the V1.
That´s what i call customer-friendly and innovative.

Why the GODOX V series Speedlites are perfect for Flash Macro photography

While my favorite feature of the V series is definitely the Li-ion battery, it is the sum of all the many ideas that these models combine.

The handling is easy and they actually improve my workflow by cutting time.

Even if i use a dedicated focusing light for example, it is good to know I can rely on an ob-board modelling lamp whenever i would need it (with the V1 and V860III).
Better safe than sorry – nothing worse than forgetting to bring your focusing light on a nightly field trip and not having an alternative.

Having all these features at a reasonable price and with good quality makes them a choice that is difficult to argue with.

I have not mentioned them all in the article but of course they have a lot more features, like the Godox radio wireless X system (V1), HSS function, USB socket for firmware updates, and many more.

With their moderate price tag compared to the flagship flash models of the common camera brands, it is worth trying the Godox flashes out and let them convince you, too.

* Disclaimer: Product photos of the Godox V Series flashes © Godox

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