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One of the many reasons I enjoy going to The Photography Show is to see and touch products and get inspired.  When I attended last year a macro flash was not on my wish list, though it is something I’ve always considered adding to my kit bag.  On day one I saw another brand’s macro flash, and that evening in the hotel room I did some research and stumbled across the Godox MF-12 K2 Macro Flash Kit.  Knowing that there was a Godox stand at the show I made a beeline for it on day two and sure enough I parted with my money.  A bit of show price discount was also a bonus!  I should point out that to use these lights it does require a trigger, so I purchased the Godox XPro trigger for my camera brand at the same time.

Godox MF-12 K2 Macro Flash Kit
Godox MF-12 K2 Macro Flash Kit © Godox

My first impressions of the kit were just how nicely they were packaged.  They come in a lovely padded carry case that holds everything you need (with the exception of the trigger).  Besides the two lights, each light has a diffuser, 2x USB-C charging cables (you will need a wall socket), 2x light stands, 2x 3/4” adapters, a whole range adapter rings, ring to mount the flashes, 2x colour effects gels, 2x colour correction gels and 2x gel holders.

The build quality and some of the design elements have been a pleasant surprise.  Little touches like having to twist the dial once you have pressed the power button so you don’t accidentally turn them on show the attention to detail.  It’s also possible to use the gels that come with the lights and not obscure the modelling light, another well thought out design element.  The modelling lights have been more useful than I thought, when you are close to a subject with hardly any ambient light they are incredible useful for nailing that focus.

Once the mount ring is attached to the camera the lights clip onto the ring and can be positioned in various different notches around the ring.  This coupled with the bracket they are mounted to allowing tilt, means a whole host of different positions is possible.  The clips having two buttons mean the lights lock into the positions and can’t accidentally fall off.  If there is one thing I would change is the mounting ring can spin on the filter thread.  I don’t like to over tighten filter rings onto my lens but a tight fit is required to stop any spinning once the lights mounted.

Whilst the lights are not particularly heavy if you are hand holding whilst shooting you are going to notice them after awhile, and the camera can feel a little front heavy.  However, whilst these are macro flashes, being triggered by a remote they don’t have to be mounted on the camera.  You can treat these lights as any other off camera flash.  They are relatively small lights, so you are not going to be lighting large subjects but for table top photography they are great, or even some hair light in portrait photography.  And being small and light it is easy to mount them anywhere.  I have coupled them with clamps to get them in awkward to reach places.

One concern I did have when purchasing these lights was the in-built lithium battery.  Whilst USB-C charging is convenient, not being able to swap the batteries is perhaps one of the disadvantages of these lights.  Having said that, I have been out with these lights and taken 200-300 shots (not at full power), and at the end of the shoot had 2/3rds battery remaining.  I’ve not once been in a position where these lights have run out of juice.  I’ve not had to do this, but these lights could be charged from a power bank or in-car charger if necessary, which is one of the benefits of being USB charging.  Being lithium batteries they do not have an infinite life cycle, so I can’t comment on their longevity or what will happen when they start to fail.

One big advantage of this setup (or though I’m yet to test) is the ability to add additional lights.  I’ve not come across a situation where this would be required, but it is possible to have 6 MF-12s mounted on the adapter ring!  But beyond that, there is no reason why you can not trigger other Godox speedlites, so for example have a powerful Gofox V1 as your main light and MF-12 as a hair light.  

Perhaps one advantage of having more than 2 MF-12s in the macro set-up would allow the ability to power down the lights.  The maximum recycle time is stated as 1.7 seconds, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but I have definitely hit this on occasions.  So as a rule I try not to use at full power, and when used at 1/8th or even 1/4th power I have found the recycle time to be very fast and quick enough to keep up with my shooting style, even when trying to shoot a stacked shot.

If you are keen macro photography, or even table top photography I cannot recommend these lights enough.  And I’m writing this review after 9 months of use, so certainly not a 1st impression.  Whilst the latest and greatest camera or lens are always nice to have, photography is nothing without light and these deliver exactly what they set out to do in a versatile way.

ability to position lights around the ring
Modelling light
Beautiful case
USB C charging
Battery life
Adding additional lights (and not just MF-12s).
filter holder can twist
Longevity of built in battery?
No ability to add external power source 
No high speed sync
Heavy to hand hold

Images taken with the MF-12s