May 2014

Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II

Photo 1: Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II

Photo 1: Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II

Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II Ring flash for close-up photography
Twin flash tubes can be controlled independently to vary the flash output ratio
Short recycling times, quick flash, and silent recycling
Accepts filters
Optical wireless transmission function
Uses the same control system as the Speedlite 600EX-RT
Better reliability

This month's technical report brings you technical information about the Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II. The MR-14EX II is the follow-up model to the MR-14EX. It provides more effective lighting for macro photography of flowers and insects as well as for shooting photos of products and people. The MR-14EX II offers a remarkable improvement in operability over its predecessor. The " NEW " beside headings indicates a functional improvement over the MR-14EX.

What is the Macro Ring Lite?

The Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II (Photo 1) has a ring-shaped flash unit divided into two halves. The flash unit attaches to the front of the lens. Because the flash is projected concentrically to the lens's optical axis, it results in a flat illumination that eliminates most flash-induced shadows (Photo 2). Users can form and control the direction of shadows by adjusting the relative flash output between the two flash tubes.

Photo 2: Comparison of lighting characteristics

Photo 2: Comparison of lighting characteristics

Continuing and improving on the Macro Ring Lite's outstanding basic performance

(1) Ring flash

The ring-shaped flash unit with two flash tubes can fire with both tubes at the same intensity, with one side set to fire brighter than the other, and from just one side. The Guide number (Table 1) when both sides fire is 14 (ISO 100, in meters) and 10.5 when only one side fires. The flash coverage is approximately 80 degrees both vertically and horizontally.

Normal shooting
Flash output Both sides firing Single-side firing
1/1 14.0 10.5
1/2 9.9 7.4
1/4 7.0 5.3
1/8 4.9 3.7
1/16 3.5 2.6
1/32 2.5 1.9
1/64 1.8 1.3
1/128 1.2 0.9
High-speed sync (at full output, both sides firing)
Shutter speed Both sides firing Single-side firing
1/125 8.9 6.6
1/160 8.5 6.3
1/200 8.0 6.0
1/250 7.6 5.7
1/320 6.2 4.6
1/400 5.5 4.1
1/500 4.9 3.7
1/640 4.4 3.3
1/800 3.9 3.1
1/1000 3.5 2.6
1/1250 3.1 2.3
1/1600 2.7 2.1
1/2000 2.4 1.8
1/2500 2.2 1.6
1/3200 1.9 1.5
1/4000 1.7 1.3
1/5000 1.5 1.2
1/6400 1.4 1.0
1/8000 1.2 0.9

Table 1: Guide numbers (approx., ISO 100, in meters)

(2) Flash modes

The MR-14EX II supports E-TTL/E-TTL II autoflash and manual flash. The manual flash output can now be adjusted as fine as 1/3-stop increments from 1/1 to 1/128 (adjustable from 1/1 to 1/64 in high-speed sync mode).

(3) Flash ratio control

The ratio between the two flash tubes' outputs can be adjusted, or just one of the two flash tubes can be fired, to take photos in which shading is added to subjects to produce a 3D quality (Photo 3). The flash ratio can be adjusted from 8:1 to 1:1 to 1:8 in 1/2-stop increments.

The flash unit can be rotated around a groove in the lens mount. This allows users to adjust the left-right flash ratio on the subject when shooting with the camera positioned vertically.

Photo 3: Flash ratio control

Photo 3: Flash ratio control

(4) Flash functions

The MR-14EX II has the same rich flash functions as the MR-14EX, including flash exposure compensation, FEB, FE lock, high-speed sync, and first-curtain/second-curtain sync.

(5) Silent recycling NEW

The recycling whine that occurs when building up the high voltage needed to fire the flash has been virtually eliminated with technology that controls the microprocessor frequency.

(6) Quick flash function NEW

The MR-14EX II has a quick flash function that can fire the flash before the main capacitor is fully charged. In this mode, although the time to reach full charge is approximately 5.5 seconds, the unit is ready to flash in approximately 3.3 seconds from a fully discharged state. In the normal mode, the recycling time varies between approximately 0.1 seconds and 5.5 seconds depending on the amount of charge left in the main capacitor (when using new batteries).

(7) Color temperature information transmission NEW

The color temperature of the flash varies slightly depending on the flash intensity. Color temperature information transmission is a function that communicates the color temperature at the time of the flash to the camera to obtain the correct white balance.

The color temperature information transmission works when the camera's white balance parameter is set to "Flash." The function will also work automatically when auto white balance is enabled. This is a function made possible by the advent of digital cameras.

(8) Accepts filters NEW

PL and other commercial filters can be attached to the inside of the flash unit. The filter diameter is 67 millimeters. Note that filters cannot be used with the EF50mm f/2.5 compact macro lens because the lens will make contact with the filter if adjusted too far. Users can protect the front of the lens by attaching a filter or the E-67II lens cap that attaches to the flash unit's filter mount.

(9) Compatible lenses

Table 2 lists the macro lenses that can be used with the MR-14EX II.

Lens Micro Lite adaptor Accepts 67mm-diameter filters Accepts lens hoods
Macro lens EF50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro Not needed No*1 No
EF-S60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Not needed Yes No
MP-E65mm f/2.8 1-5X Macro Photo Not needed Yes Yes*2
EF100mm f/2.8 Macro Not needed Yes No
EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Not needed Yes No
EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM 67 Yes No
EF180mm f/3.5L Macro USM 72C Yes No

Table 2: Lenses compatible with the MR-14EX II

*1 When taking close-up photos with the lens, the front of the lens will come in contact with the filter.
*2 The hood sold separately for the MP-E65mm f/2.8 1-5X Macro Photo can be used.

Figure 1: Wireless multiple-flash photography

Figure 1: Wireless multiple-flash photography

(10) Optical wireless transmission

The MR-14EX II has an optical wireless master function. When used with EX-series Speedlites that have a wireless slave function, photos can be taken with multiple flashes driven by optical transmissions (Figure 1).
When using the manual flash mode, the MR-14EX II can set the flash output for A, B, and C groups.

Improved operability

(1) Uses the 600EX-RT control system NEW

The MR-14EX II comes with the same control system used on the 600EX-RT, the top EX-series Speedlite model. The primary controls — the selection dial and the SET button — allow immediate adjustments to frequently used functions such as the flash exposure compensation. The backlit buttons and the lock position for the power switch are the same as on the 600EX-RT.

(2) Dot-matrix LCD panel NEW

The 172 x 104-dot LCD panel (Photo 4), also used on the 600EX-RT, provides contextual information about the current function in a very legible format. The background color can be set to green or orange, and it has a five-level brightness adjustment.

Photo 4: Control unit

Photo 4: Control unit

(3) Function settings from the camera NEW

The digital-ready flash's functions can be set from a camera menu. (Some functions are set with the flash's controls.) The function settings for optical wireless transmission shooting can also be made from the camera.

(4) Memory function NEW

Users can save and retrieve one combination of settings. The memory function can save the settings made for wireless multiple-flash photography, flash ratio controls, and single-side firing. Note that the memory function only saves one Custom function, C.Fn-15: Macro: Wireless control. It does not save the Personal function settings.

(5) Brighter focusing lamps NEW

The MR-14EX II uses high-output white LEDs for its focusing lamps, which have a brighter output that the krypton lamp used on the MR-14EX. The brightness of the focusing lamps is adjustable in five levels.

(6) Smaller control unit NEW

The control unit has been designed to be shorter than the MR-14EX by repositioning the battery compartment, condenser, and other large components to make more efficient use of space (Figure 2). The cord has been moved to the right front of the control unit so that it doesn't interfere with the shutter button. The one-touch lock lever makes it easier to attach and remove the mounting foot.
Note that the flash unit is wider than on the MR-14EX to accommodate the left and right flash tubes.

Figure 2: Size comparison with the MR-14EX

Figure 2: Size comparison with the MR-14EX

(7) Customization functions

The MR-14EX II can be thoroughly customized, with 12 Custom functions and three Personal functions.

Better reliability

(1) Metal mounting foot NEW

The mounting foot is constructed from metal instead of engineered plastic for more strength.

(2) Battery compartment cover lock mechanism NEW

The new battery compartment cover lock mechanism prevents the battery compartment cover from being opened accidentally.

Figure 3: Dust wipe mechanism

Figure 3: Dust wipe mechanism

(3) More reliable contacts NEW

A dust wipe mechanism (Figure 3) moves the electrical contacts back and forth when the mounting foot lock lever is operated to clear away dust and dirt on the accessory shoe and improve the reliability of the electrical connection. Another mechanism connected to the mounting foot lock lever's movement varies the pressure on the electrical contacts to ensure a solid connection between the flash contacts and the accessory shoe.

System accessories (Figure 4)

Figure 4: Diagram of the MR-14EX II system

Figure 4: Diagram of the MR-14EX II system

(1) Compact battery pack

This external power source uses eight AA batteries. The compact battery pack shortens the recycling time and provides more flashes than when using the MR-14EX II on its own (Table 3).

Power supply Recycling time (approx.) No. of flashes (approx.)
Normal flash Quick flash
MR-14EX II on its own 0.1 - 5.5 sec. 0.1 - 3.3 sec. 100 - 700 flashes
Used with the CP-E4 compact battery pack Recycling using the flash and CP-E4 0.1 - 1.9 sec. 0.1 - 1.3 sec. More than 380 full flashes
Recycling using only the CP-E4 0.1 - 3.5 sec. 0.1 - 2.2 sec. More than 240 full flashes

Table 3: Recycling time and number of flashes (using new AA alkaline batteries)

(2) Slave units

These are flashes with an optical wireless slave function that is necessary for wireless multiple-flash photography.
Compatible slave units are: 600EX-RT, 600EX, 580EX II, 580EX, 550EX, 430EX II, 430EX, 420EX, 320EX, and 270EX II.

(3) Macro Lite adaptors

These are adaptors to attach the flash unit to the lens. The Macro Lite Adaptor 67 and the Macro Lite Adaptor 72C are available for different lens filter diameters.

Parameter MR-14EX II MR-14EX
Guide number (approx., ISO 100, in meters) Both sides firing 14 14
Single-side firing 10.5 14
Flash coverage (approx. vertical / horizontal) 80° / 80° 80° / 80°
Recycling time (approx.) 0.1 - 5.5 sec. 0.1 - 7 sec.
Silent recycling Yes No
Flash unit A:B output ratio control 8:1 to 1:1 to 1:8 in 1/2-stop increments 8:1 to 1:1 to 1:8 in 1/2-stop increments
Flash modes E-TTL II / E-TTL / TTL autoflash Yes Yes
Manual flash 1/1 - 1/128 (1/3-stop increments)
(High-speed sync: 1/1 - 1/64)
1/1 - 1/64 (1-stop increments)
Auto external metering No No
Multi flash No No
Flash functions First-curtain / second-curtain sync Yes Yes
High-speed sync Yes Yes
FE lock Yes Yes
Quick flash Yes No
Flash exposure compensation ±3 stops (1/3-stop and 1/2-stop increments) ±3 stops (1/3-stop and 1/2-stop increments)
FEB ±3 stops (1/3-stop and 1/2-stop increments) ±3 stops (1/3-stop and 1/2-stop increments)
White balance functions Color temperature information transmission Yes No
Wireless multiple-flash photography Optical wireless transmission 4 channels, 3 groups 4 channels, 3 groups
Radio wireless transmission No No
Filters Attachable (67mm diameter) No
LCD panel 172 x 104 dot display Fixed segments
Focusing lamps LED Krypton
AF-assist beam No No
Customization functions Custom functions 12 7
Personal functions 3 0
Memory function for settings Yes No
Clear flash settings Yes No
Set flash functions from camera Yes No
Backlit control buttons Yes No
Power source Internal power source Four AA alkaline batteries Four AA alkaline batteries
External power source CP-E4 compact battery pack CP-E4 compact battery pack
No. of flashes (approx.) 100 - 700 120 - 800
Mounting foot Metal construction Yes No
Lock function One-touch lock Screw type
Dust wipe function Yes No
Dimensions (approx., w x h x d) [mm] Flash unit 129.6 x 112.1 x 25.3 112.8 x 126.0 x 25.6
Control unit 69.6 x 118.8 x 71.4 74.0 x 125.9 x 97.4
Weight (approx., without batteries) [grams] 455 430

Table 4: Main specifications of the MR-14EX II and the MR-14EX