As a high-capacity wedding photographer who shoots over 100 weddings a year, I am always looking to innovate. For a long time, I have been looking for the perfect wedding photography ring flash, and I think the Godox MF12 (buy here) is my new favorite solution. (Well, actually, three of them)
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The Godox MF12 – A ring flash for wedding photography
There are many ring flash options out there, but they don’t all fit my workflow as a wedding photographer. Most units are cumbersome, too big, and block my face or kill the hot shoe connection. I, on the other hand, need to be able to move fast on the floor, maintain eye connection and still control the rest of my flashes, so I felt blocked.
When I first saw the Godox MF12, I liked the concept, but I didn’t like the fact that there were only two units, coming from each side of the lens. Then it hit me! I can stack six of those tiny strobes on a single ring to get a portable, lean setup. And because six units would cover the entire circle around the lens, I’ll finally get my coveted ring flash look.
I’ll admit, Godox is selling this kit as a macro solution. But it has more-than-enough power to also act as a ring flash on a crowded wedding dance floor, and this is how I am using it.
Adapting the Godox MF12 for wedding photography
To get the ring flash look that I want, I need six units. Godox is selling them in kits, so that would be three kits. But there is some saving that you can get here. A standard kit costs $249 at B&H. You would need one complete kit for the adapter rings. But for the other four units, you can buy a “bare” kit which would be one or two MF12 units. You would also need a Godox transmitter unit like the Godox XPro (about $70), but if you are already using the Godox system, you probably have one of those. If you are taking this approach, you can probably start with three or four units and grow as you need.
For a standard wedding, I also have a couple of AD200 strobes ($299) mounted on stands around the floor. I typically set the ring as one group, and the AD200’s as another group. This gives me a lot of control in terms of matching lights.
All the Godox MF12 tiny strobes go on a ring adapter that you get with the main kit. My wedding floor lens is a 16-35mm lens with an 82mm filter size, so I have to remove the lens and “force-fit” the special ring. But other than that, getting the kit together was easy peasy.
While I had no requirements for modeling lights, the Godox MF12 units have a small LED. Nothing that’s powerful enough for a photo, but it is helping a lot with the focus.
Balancing the MF12 with ambient and other strobes
You may remember from your learning days, that a ring light can control exposure in two ways: the power of the strobes, and the distance from your subject. Both affect the exposure here.
When I am on the floor, sometimes I’ll be closer to my subject and sometimes further away. This is the nature of a dance floor. This means that I need to be able to control my ring flash quite fast to make sure I get the right exposure. The MF12s live inside the Godox eco-system, so you can set each strobe power separately. For me, though, I put them all in the same group so I can balance them with a single dial from the remote on the camera.
In most cases, they would balance in a pretty low power setting – usually all the way down to 1/128. But if I shoot a bit further away, the power needs go up pretty quickly. That said, I am using six strobes, and this is quite a punch. I never had to put them on full power. The benefit of this is that I am getting very fast recycling speeds, and have no interruptions to my flow.
Preparation and teardown
I have to say, a hexa-strobe unit is something that gets a lot of attention from whoever sees it – it’s a great conversation starter. But even that does not make me want to keep the structure on the camera for an entire wedding.
Mounting the ring is easy, as all the strobes are connected to a central ring. There are six channel/group settings that you need to configure on first use (no problemo). And six “on” buttons that you need to remember every time you start using the strobes.
The strobes come with internal batteries. According to Godox, an MF12 unit will pop 500 times on full power, and this is more than enough for a single wedding. But you do need to charge all six units, and you’d want to get some split charging cables for that.
The Godox MF12 provides a great solution if you need a ring flash for crowded spaces. It is fast to deploy, and you can easily control it. If you like a tight setup, you’ll b limited to lenses of up to 77mm thread, but, if you are willing to hack it a bit, I’ve shown that you can use larger lenses too.