Cheap ring light...


Oh crop!
Jun 18, 2013
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South West Wyoming
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So-- I'm delving into the world of macro with some el-cheapo equipment. I got some macro extension tubes that, thankfully, allow me to adjust aperture. Now I'm looking at cheap (less than $50) ring light to go with. To be 100% honest-- I do not expect amazing results. I'm really just playing around right now. I don't even know exactly what tiny thing I might try to photograph.

So my question is-- have any of you used any of the cheap ring lights on amazon?-- the likes of Newer and such-- LED ring lights. Not actual ring flashes. What are your experiences? I've read probably 100 amazon reviews but its hard to say what these people really expected vs what they got. I just thought people here might have more valuable input.
Try reading this first. Several different ideas you might be interested in. How to use Macro Flash Brackets

I use a twin flash bracket and a couple of 580's but you could easily just use a couple of small flashes as well. If you already have some flash units you may well be able to make them work.
I have a cheap LED ring light, but have hardly used it.
Generally I use a standard TTL flash via a cable enabling me to have it off camera at various angles & distances.
The one time I tried the LED ring it worked OK but my subject (a gloss painted stone) gave strong reflections of the LEDs - more diffusion would have been better. I expect it will be fine on less reflective subjects...
A few thoughts:

1) Diffusion of light. To diffuse light you simply make the source of the light, relative to the subject, bigger. Now the problem here is that with any ringlight/flash the ring is right at the end of the lens and thus you've very little room to actually add anything to make the source area bigger before the light strikes the subject. It's a problem for all ring flashes and whilst there are some options out there it also depends on the lens you're using - one with a longer working distance (distance from front of the lens to the subject) is going to give you more room. A set of extension tubes suggests that you won't have much working distance to play with.

2) LED lights are nice ,but whilst they can put out good light they are really nowhere near as powerful as a proper flash. Whilst every bit helps the LED lights that I've seen lack the intensity to replace a flash. What they do give is a constant light that can help with focusing and finding the subject and might also be good for video work; but again its the question of power.

Personally I would suggest looking at a regular speedlite flash. That is something that will give you a flash you can position where you want (with a bracket) and then diffuse the light. Furthermore its not as limited; a ringflash is pretty much limited to just macro; whilst a regular speedlite can be used for pretty much anything and everything (with the right light modifiers attached).
Well I already have 3 speedlights so I guess I can just use those. Its just that I am really close to the subject. I have wireless transceivers so I'm set for off camera.

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