Macro flash for Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150/300

You might be familiar with the old proverb that begins “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.” Updating the poem, I might say “For want of a step-up ring, the macro flash was lost.” Until recently, that is, when a $7 part solved a long-standing problem.

Both of my “go-to” cameras for photowalking — including the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 24x superzoom bridge camera, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 24x superzoom bridge camera — feature excellent capability for macro photography. Set for “Wide Macro,” both cameras have a focus range from 1 cm (0.39 in) to infinity.

Problem is, at a working distance of 1 cm from the subject, “lens shadow” is a problem using the built-in pop-up flash. What’s the solution? Add an external macro flash unit such as the Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite.

Front of macro flash rig

The lens on the DMC-FZ150 and DMC-FZ300 has the same size filter thread (52mm), so both cameras can use many of the same accessories. I used a new Sensei PRO 52-58mm Aluminum Step-Up Ring to adapt an old Canon Macrolite Adapter 58C (58mm) to the camera lens.

The Flash Unit Mount Ring (round holder for the twin flashes) clips onto a flange around the Canon Macrolite Adapter 58C; the Contol Unit is mounted on the camera hot shoe.

It’s worth noting there is a Canon Macrolite Adapter 52C (52mm) available for ~$14 MSRP. Since I already had a 58C for one of my Fujinon lenses, I decided to buy a step-up ring and save $7.

Macro flash kit for Panasonic Lumix 24x superzoom digital cameras.

For more magnification, a Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter can be mounted to the 58mm filter thread on the front of the Canon MT-26EX-RT Flash Unit Mount Ring using two adapter rings: a Sensei 58-52mm step-down ring; and a Sensei 52-43mm step-down ring.

The same combination of adapter rings can be used to mount the Raynox close-up filter on any lens to which the MT-26EX-RT Flash Unit Mount Ring is attached.

Back of macro flash rig

Macro flash kit for Panasonic Lumix 24x superzoom digital cameras.

Demystifying step-up and step-down rings

Here’s how to decode the numbers that appear around the rim of either a step-down or step-up ring. Let’s say we’d like to connect a Canon Macrolite Adapter 58C to the lens of a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300.

The Macrolite Adapter has a filter thread diameter of 58mm; the DMC-FZ300 lens has a filter thread diameter of 52mm. We need a 52-58mm step-up ring, because we’re going to step up from a smaller- to a larger filter thread diameter. Make sense? Hope so!

How/why a Canon flash works with a Panasonic camera

The following annotated image shows the pin configuration on the hot shoe for the Fujifilm EF-X500 external flash unit. Notice that the hot shoe has four-pins: the “center pin” is used for power; the other three pins are used for proprietary communication between the camera and flash unit, such as TTL.

Copyright © 2019 and B&H Photo. All rights reserved.

The pin configuration for other brands of external flash units varies by manufacturer, but most flashes use the center pin for power.

For example, all Canon external flash units (including the MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite) have a five-pin hot shoe; the center pin is used for power and it’s aligned perfectly with the power pin on Panasonic bridge cameras. Therefore any current model of Canon flash is compatible with Panasonic bridge cameras with one caveat: TTL is incompatible, so it’s manual mode flash only. That’s not a problem since I prefer manual exposure for macro photography.

High-speed sync is also incompatible, but that’s a non-issue since Panasonic superzoom bridge cameras feature a leaf shutter in the lens rather than a focal plane shutter in the camera body. As a result, there is no camera “sync speed” so the flash will work properly using any shutter speed supported by the camera.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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