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Novoflex Macrolight Plus--anyone tried it?
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Chris S.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 12:24 am    Post subject: Novoflex Macrolight Plus--anyone tried it? Reply with quote

The Novoflex Macrolight Plus has been mentioned in these fora as an expensive, but potentially good, solution for macro lighting (it permits both continuous lighting and flash). Does anyone have actual experience with it? Reviews are hard to find.

http://www.novoflex.com/en/products/macro-accessories/cold-light-source/

Hard for me to say without trying it, but beyond the high cost, I get the impression that it might not be a robust solution. I don't see any indication in the published specs that the light guides can be swapped out for others--it would be better if it could accept standard light guides from Fostec or another big player. There is no iris--potentially useful in controlling continuous light without altering color. And the provision for a speedlight type flash seems limiting--why not use a flash that operates on mains power?

Anybody with hands-on experience care to comment?

(I brought this up deep in another thread--not sure the proper audience would have been watching by that point.)

Thanks,

--Chris
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Craig Gerard



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris,

There are a few active members who have these units, hopefully they will post a response/review.

Craig
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Chris S.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nobody? No one with hands-on experience is available to comment?

I'd really appreciate it if such a person would share a few words. I'm currently helping a researcher to image a very difficult subject--entirely as a favor. He has some budget that could be used to help me with equipment, but I want to treat those hard-won funds with respect. If this device will truly get the job done, it may be money well spent; if not, it may be money wasted, and I don't want to be profligate with this researcher's limited funds.

If anyone has actually used this device, I'd be truly grateful if you'd post your opinions of it.

Thanks,

--Chris
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Craig Gerard



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 3:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris,

There are some examples at the link below for reference; not much specific info, but it's a start.

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9547

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5038

There is some additional information in various threads related to 'fiber optic flash'; but again, not many specific details regarding the Novoflex unit.

I have not come across any detailed reviews on the web, maybe that says something?

Nice, tidy unit; but are they worth the money (full-retail)? It's basically just a fiber optic illuminator with a beamsplitter to which you attach your own speedlight. Turning a dial alternates between output.

Craig
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Pau
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You may try to e-mail them asking for technical seets and schemes or any other questions:
mail@novoflex.com

good luck

If you get useful info please let us know
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AndrewC



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Craig Gerard wrote:
...
Nice, tidy unit; but are they worth the money (full-retail)? It's basically just a fiber optic illuminator with a beamsplitter to which you attach your own speedlight. Turning a dial alternates between output.

Craig


Not even really a beam splitter, just a flip down mirror if I understand it correctly.
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Pau
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AndrewC wrote:

Not even really a beam splitter, just a flip down mirror if I understand it correctly.


It also must have some kind of collector lens to focus the flash light in the fiber optic end. If not, the light intensity would be extremely low.
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PaulFurman



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Flash is already 'cold' light so I'm not sure what the advantage is. There are various lab grade fiber optic illuminators with hot bulbs inside... or LCD bulbs, which are cool (low temp).
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dmillard



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Novoflex Macrolight Plus--anyone tried it? Reply with quote

Chris S. wrote:
The Novoflex Macrolight Plus has been mentioned in these fora as an expensive, but potentially good, solution for macro lighting (it permits both continuous lighting and flash). Does anyone have actual experience with it? Reviews are hard to find.

http://www.novoflex.com/en/products/macro-accessories/cold-light-source/

Hard for me to say without trying it, but beyond the high cost, I get the impression that it might not be a robust solution. I don't see any indication in the published specs that the light guides can be swapped out for others--it would be better if it could accept standard light guides from Fostec or another big player. There is no iris--potentially useful in controlling continuous light without altering color. And the provision for a speedlight type flash seems limiting--why not use a flash that operates on mains power?

Anybody with hands-on experience care to comment?

(I brought this up deep in another thread--not sure the proper audience would have been watching by that point.)

Thanks,

--Chris


Hello Chris,

I have two of these units, both purchased on eBay at a small fraction of the current retail price. One is the original model, with a slightly textured gray finish, that came with a metal case, a focusing lens/filter kit for the light guides, and the power cord. The other one (a demo unit from Calumet) is a smooth blue-gray, and came with only a generic camera bag; the cord and focusing lenses now must be purchased separately (and the focusing lenses aren't cheap!). The newer unit has a slightly different fan arrangement, and runs much more quietly, and with less vibration and air output than the older version.

Condenser lenses focus the halogen lights, however there is no focusing system for the flash light - it is merely reflected off of a 45 degree mirror that is flipped down. I use my unit with inexpensive Vivitar 283 flashes, which recycle quickly and reliably using SB4 AC adapters; they also allow fairly precise remote control of power output through the use of potentiometers or sets of resistors.

The triple branch light guides are self-supporting, which can be annoying because it makes it challenging to make slight adjustments in their positions, or move one of them without affecting the others. However, this unit does accept 15mm Volpi light guides; I have acquired a ring light and a single flexible light guide from eBay. It would be nice if the unit took a light guide of a larger diameter. As you noted, there is no
iris diaphragm to control the continuous light output.

Fuses and bulbs are inexpensive, but while the fuses are quick and easy to replace, bulb replacement requires disassembly of the housing (approx. 10 screws!), potentially very annoying if the need occurs in the middle of stack. Fortunately, the lamps seem to have a long life.

I have found the Macrolight to be useful because I can model with the halogen light, and then easily switch to flash. However, if I had the time I would adapt a fiber optic illuminator that used more widely available, larger diameter light guides, to include an enclosed flash tube in conjunction with its continuous light source, and possibly incorporate a condenser lens to focus onto the light guide. Somewhere I have an article
(that I downloaded from Micscape several years ago) that describes a similar modification.

Sorry if this response is a little rambly and incoherent - it's late at night, and I get up early.

Regards,
David
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Chris S.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David—thank you very much! Your review is exactly what I needed.

You've tipped me in the direction I guess I really wanted to go anyway—just build my own. For way less than the cost of this unit, I can get the parts to build exactly what I want. I’m not even sure it will take all that much time—when we get right down to it, these are pretty simple devices.

If your units can use 15mm Volpi light guides, I suspect they might accept the .6-inch Dolan Jenner guides as well. But as you say, capability to accept larger diameter light guides would be nice. I was thinking that if I built my own, I’d use a Jacob’s chuck-style nosepiece from a medical illuminator—but the ones I’ve seen only go up to 16mm, which is about what you’ve already got.

It’s very useful to me to find out that when flash is used with this unit, it doesn’t go through the condenser lenses—yuck. Like you, I’d prefer something where the continuous light and flash both went through the same condensers, or at least seperate condensers configured to deliver similar characteristics.

From what you and others have said, I’ll avoid “obedient” light guides and get flexible ones, with gauge holders to hold them.

So here is what I think should go into a DIY light: box with power supply and good ventilation fans, large-diameter mounting for light guide—either with adjustable chuck or swap-in rings of various sizes, with a baffle around to deal with light leakage, modeling light and AC-powered flash both shining through condenser lenses—either the same lenses, or separate lenses with a mirror to choose between, iris to control intensity of continuous light, electronic shutter for gating continuous light. A bit of overkill perhaps, but it doesn’t sound all that hard. Then get a variety of flexible light guides for different uses. Add some focusing lenses for the light guides, and holders for polarizing filters.

Thanks for mentioning that the Vivitar 283 has a readily available AV power adapter—didn’t know that. My Nikon speedlights don’t have these available, as far as I’ve been able to determine. Maybe time to switch, as I hate using batteries for deep stacks.

I really appreciate your taking the time to write this terrific review. Very, very helpful to me.

Cheers,

--Chris
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Chris S.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Craig, thanks for the links to other setups where these are in use. While I'd seen them in the past, I was paying attention to other elements of the rigs and could not have found them now when I need them. I don't know how you remembered which threads showed them in the photos--you must have a scarily sharp memory. The links were definitely worth taking another look at, now that I'm thinking about fiber optic lighting.

Agreed that the lack of online reviews raises skepticism. David's review may be the first one available in public--and is a very good one at that.

Best,

--Chris
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Chris S.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PaulFurman wrote:
Flash is already 'cold' light so I'm not sure what the advantage is. There are various lab grade fiber optic illuminators with hot bulbs inside... or LCD bulbs, which are cool (low temp).


Paul, I'm not concerned about heat, but the ability to place light with ease and precision. The other night I placed a snooted flash about six feet from a very small subject, and painstakingly placed a piece of black paper with a small hole in it on a boom stand midway between, to get a very directed and small pool of light on a tiny subject. What a pain. Hence, am seeking something easier to work with.

Cheers,

--Chris
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elf



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris S. wrote:

Thanks for mentioning that the Vivitar 283 has a readily available AV power adapter—didn’t know that. My Nikon speedlights don’t have these available, as far as I’ve been able to determine. Maybe time to switch, as I hate using batteries for deep stacks.


The AC power adapter may not work as well as batteries. I've read reports that say the recycle time isn't any better than with AA batteries. I'm using a 'UB685 8.5AH' lead acid battery with two Vivitar 283's. The recycle time is much faster than I can shoot automated and I can shoot several thousand shots before recharging the battery.
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Chris S.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elf, I know little about figuring out how to power electronic items. How do you convert whatever voltage and amperage is coming from the lead acid battery into whatever the 283s need? If this is a hopelessly naive way to ask the question, please correct me and answer as if I'd asked in the vocabulary of an informed person. . .

Thanks,

--Chris
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elf



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are several ways to do the conversion. You can replace one of the connectors and rewire it to the correct spots inside the flash. This is rather dangerous and potentially lethal voltages are roaming around inside the flash.

The second way is just make a block the same size as the battery holder to hold the leads from the external battery. This is the method I used.

The voltage is 6 volts and I really can't tell you how to calculate the current draw, but from what I've read of other conversions, this battery should be safe. I haven't detected any heat buildup in the flashes during deep stacks.

You should be able to use the same technique on your Nikon flashes as well. The Vivitar 283's also have a high trigger voltage that can ruin current cameras. Charles has posted a circuit that will make them safe as well as how to make a flash power controller.


Chris S. wrote:
The other night I placed a snooted flash about six feet from a very small subject, and painstakingly placed a piece of black paper with a small hole in it on a boom stand midway between, to get a very directed and small pool of light on a tiny subject. What a pain. Hence, am seeking something easier to work with.


I think if you had just made the snoot longer and narrower you would have had more control over it. Or, how about piping all of the output into a single fiber optic fiber. Adding a snoot to the end of fiber should get you a really small spot Smile
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