Kirk Enterprises Macro Flash Bracket

Text and images copyright Thomas L Webster, 2005. All rights reserved.


My number one, cardinal rule for photomacrography is get that flash off the camera and get it close to your subject. To do so, you will need some sort of bracket to hold the flash. Kirk Enterprises makes an affordable macro flash bracket which I have been using for the last several months. Starting at $69.95, this bracket represents a real bargain. Or, does it? The bracket comes blister packed on printed cardboard with no instructions on use.

I cannot begin to tell you how frustrated I have become while attempting to use this macro flash bracket. The Kirk Enterprises web site shows the flash held in a high position over the camera lens but anybody who practices macro photography would recognize that this is not the optimal position for the flash. That flash has to be close to the lens and close to the subject. Therein lies the shortcomings of this bracket.

Kirk Enterprises Macro Flash Bracket

The flash bracket attaches to the camera either by a standard 1/4" x 20 screw screwed into the tripod socket on the camera base plate or the bracket can be attached to the camera using one of Kirk Enterprise's custom camera plates. The bracket has two tilt adjustments (as shown above, right) and a long, slotted arm to which the flash and remote flash cord are attached. One tilt movement tilts the long arm along the long axis of the camera lens and the second tilt movement tilts the long arm in a short arc along the axis of the camera body. At first glance, this seems like a highly adjustable system. But looks can be, and are, deceiving.


Here is a view of the bracket from the left side of the camera. A Canon Off Shoe Camera Cord 2 is used to connect the flash with the camera. The two joints in the flash arm can only move the flash closer to the end of the lens. The joints do not allow the angle of the flash to be changed.


This system of tilts turns out not to be highly adjustable and this is where my frustration with this bracket begins. Not only do I expect a flash bracket to be able to position the flash close to my subject but I expect that bracket to be able to allow me to position the flash so that I can point the flash at my subject from any angle. It is very difficult to get any other angle other than "straight on" with this flash bracket. A little futzing and you can get a bit of overhead lighting from the right side of the lens (as viewed from the position of the photographer). The limited adjustments pretty much guarantee that glare will become a real issue in the photographs. What if you want to turn the camera for a vertical image? Forget it. As you can see this would yield only side-lighting for a vertical subject.


I don't know if this was intended by Kirk Enterprises but you can adjust the jointed arms such that the bracket can be used effectively to move the flash far enough off-camera to avoid red eye if you are shooting images of people. I wouldn't buy this bracket based on this feature alone but it is handy to have. This keeps me from having to purchase two flash brackets for two different purposes.

What if I want to change the angle of illumination from the left side of my subject to the right side of my subject? With this bracket you can pretty much forget about doing that. I suppose you could slide the bracket far enough to the left on the camera to bring the flash more to the right of the lens but there isn't much adjustment to accomplish this. This would also hang the bracket far to the left making it awkward to handle. The only other alternative would be to swing everything over to the right side of the camera. This is not an easy task and would place the bracket in the way of the camera's grip. In short, this bracket is a pain in the a$$ to use as it comes from the factory.

Is there anything that can be done to make this bracket more user-friendly. Indeed there is! Giotto to the rescue! Giotto manufactures a tiny ball head, the MH 1004. This tiny ball head locks tightly and is just the ticket to position a flash at any angle that is needed. Attached between the flash arm of the Kirk flash bracket and your electronic flash vastly increases the versatility lacking in the flash bracket alone.


Finally! The addition of the small ball head gives the flash bracket the flexibility needed for lighting macro subjects. Also, adding the small ball head now allows the photographer to properly light vertical compositions.

Other criticisms I have of the Kirk Enterprises Macro Flash Bracket include the locking knobs being too small. With the weight of a flash hanging at the end of the flash arm you have to clamp down on the locking knobs pretty hard. The difficulty comes in loosening the lock knobs to place the flash in a different position. The knobs are too hard to grip to loosen. A better design would incorporate tri-lobed knobs such as the knob that attaches the camera to the bracket. Tri-lobed knobs would provide more torque for locking down and loosening the lock knobs.

Would I recommend this bracket for other macrophotographers? That would be a big, emphatic...NO!...not unless you purchase the Giotto MH 1004 ball head to go with the bracket. Purchase the ball head to go with the bracket and my answer would be...Yes!

Disclaimer: These are only my opinions and must not be confused with product evaluations written from carefully controlled tests. My reviews are "real world" reviews based on my experiences using these specific pieces of equipment utilized for my type photography and the manner in which I work. Other photographers may offer differing and valid opinions of the same equipment.

Copyright Thomas L Webster, 2005. All rights Reserved.
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