Canon's Ring Light, MR-14EX, like the Canon Twin Lite, is built to fit onto the 58 mm front of the 100 mm macro, but you can buy step-down or step-up rings so that the flashes can be mounted on lenses with filter diameters other than 58 mm. Because it can act like a continuous flashtube around the lens, it can produce a beautiful, virtually shadow-free light onto any subject. However, the strobe tube is not a single piece, but rather two semicircular tubes that can be proportioned against each other to create a key:fill ratio. Even though it wraps around the lens, the light it throws is not shadow-free. Instead, a small shadow is formed, symmetrically, around the entire periphery of the subject. The width of this shadow is controlled by the distance of the subject to the background, which many photographers exploit as a compositional element. Canon's ring light, though certainly usable for fashion photography, is also extremely useful as a macrolight. Insurance documentarians and collectors use it routinely, as it adequately represents the planes of important artifacts well enough to establish monetary value. The light is flat but modeled enough so it sees cosmetic damage easily.
Most of Canon's Speedlites work together as a wireless unit, which means you could set up a portrait shot using a Ring Light as the key, a Twin Lite to accent the hair, and a head-modified, standard flash for the background, controlling all of them from a Master flash on camera that you've set not to fire.
There is so much more to Canon's Speedlite system than first meets the eye. Yes, the gear is more expensive than similar equipment from a third-party manufacturer, but the other stuff can't do as much or talk to the camera like native equipment can. If you have doubts about what a Canon flash can do for you and your camera, rent or borrow one for a weekend. Make sure you have the instruction manual. Play, and don't be afraid to mess up. Working with flash is not a trouble-free experience, but I know that when you understand the system, you'll be a true believer.
One of my favorite accessories for the Rebel is the remote switch, RS-60E3. In the studio, if I'm shooting reflective subjects, I may need to duck behind a black shield so my reflection won't be picked up. This accessory allows me to stand at least 3 feet away from the lens. Additionally, if I'm shooting time exposures with the mirror locked up, I can trip the shutter when I'm ready without having to touch the camera and possibly shake it.
You can extend the shooting limits of your Rebel by purchasing the BG-E5 Battery Grip accessory. The BG-E5, unavailable for photography at the time of this writing, can be purchased with either the BGM-E5L magazine, which holds two LP-E5 batteries, or the BGM-E5A, which draws power from AA batteries. For those of you who need more image capabilities but shoot locally, I would lean toward the BGM-E5L because it can be recharged hundreds of times. For those of you who like to hike through the wilderness, the BGM-E5A would be a better option, as it's easy to carry additional AA batteries with you or purchase them as you go.
Don't like batteries? The aforementioned power adapter, CA-PS700, allows you to run your camera off household power.
Charge your camera's battery in your vehicle with the CBC-E5 Car Battery Charger. This is an invaluable accessory if you frequently travel between shoots and have time to top off the battery.
Another favorite is the Angle Finder C, a right-angle viewfinder that allows you to see through the lens even if you're backed into a corner. You can also use this accessory to look and focus over a crowd, using the camera much like a periscope.
There are many other accessories, too. Check the Rebel's manual to see what's best for you.
Canon manufactures a full line of printers, ready for whatever job you care to throw at them. Smaller units, available as inkjet or dye sublimation printers, will do a great job for 4 X 6 prints. Canon's larger units, available as inkjet printers only, can be used to print images up to 36 inches wide, with a length limited only by the limits of your computer or the length of the paper roll or single sheet. All Canon printers are PictBridge enabled, which means you can tether your camera directly to the printer and make prints straight from the SD card.
So many manufacturers are creating tools for you that it's impossible to list them all or to explain what their goods might do for you. Be assured that, whatever you like to shoot, you'll find tripods, bags, or gadgets to fit your shooting style. For example, you can readily find shoulder bags, backpacks, or rolling gear backs to carry virtually any configuration of equipment. A little more research will turn up a myriad of tripods, monopods, and specialty pods, from an 18-inch extension to one that is 12 feet or higher. It's all up to you.
I've assembled a list of favorite website links for photographic gear and photographic help, which you'll find at the back of this book. Feel free to surf through them or use your file browser to find others. Take some time to search before putting your money down—there are always alternatives, some of which might do a better job for you than your first choice.
www.harbordigitaldesign.com: Makers of the Ultimate Light Box accessory diffusion system.
www.ShootSmarter.com: Free photo information. www.ProPhotoResource.com: Free photo information and forum. www.photo-control.com: Norman brand products and accessories. www.usa.canon.com: Canon's primary website with access to the Canon Digital Learning Center and other information sites.
http://photography-on-the.net/forum: A forum for Canon enthusiasts.
www.MyBWLab.net: Outstanding black and white prints from color files.
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