Sigma EM-140 DG macro “ring” flash

Written by Gary on June 30th, 2010

I managed to pick up a second hand Sigma EM-140 DG Ring Flash for Canon EOS this week mainly because it was going relatively cheaply and I needed a TTL macro flash for my Canon kit but didn’t want to pay for the Canon macro flash.

Sigma EM-140 DG macro flash

I already own the Olympus Ring Flash which I love but obviously, it doesn’t work in TTL mode on my Canon 1D Mark III, and it doesn’t attach to lenses via a filter thread thus requiring it to be hand held on lenses for which it was not designed.

Unfortunately, Sigma’s website doesn’t explain the realities with this flash, and worse, does not allow a download of its user manual so you can determine if it will suit your needs or be a lemon.

Let’s look at the Sigma flash, firstly the cons:

  • although it looks like a ring flash, it is NOT really a ring flash but really a twin flash mounted in a flat ring. This is not going to create circular catchlights!
  • for some strange reason, it cannot be triggered in manual mode on a non-Canon camera, even if you try to manually short the hot shoe contacts to check its trigger voltage, it won’t fire – so forget using it on any camera for which it was not designed – a big disappointment!
  • it has “wireless TTL” and can act as a Master flash to trigger another flash – as long as that other flash is a Sigma EF530 – wireless TTL is NOT possible with Canon flashes using this flash as a master flash!

Now the good points:

  • it is relatively cheap (RRP $US480), and light (430g w/o batteries)
  • you can adjust the ratio  between the two flash tubes to give more directional lighting
  • you can use FP flash mode (high speed sync) on E-TTL compatible cameras
  • you can use second shutter curtain sync and FE lock
  • you can use multi-fire mode which allows repeated flashes from 1-199 Hz
  • flash exposure bracketing mode for 3 shots to give total of up to +/- 3 stops in 1/3EV increments
  • it does have a modeling lamp which can be activated via the camera’s preview button
  • it does have a lamp to add more light to the subject to assist composition and focusing
  • it is relatively simple to use as long as you don’t need to do wireless TTL – you will need to bring the instruction book with you!
  • it snaps onto supplied lens filter thread adapters – two of which are supplied (55mm and 58mm), and you can buy other adapters – either 52mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm or 77mm which means you can attach this flash to a wide range of lenses.
  • GN 14m (ISO100) is reasonable for a macro flash

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