So, I got a macro ring flash today. Its the low price model, made by Neewer, and designed to put a ring of LED lights around your lens for macro and closer-view photography. The company lists pictures of the item here:
In any event, the ring flash comes with 7 adapter rings (was it 7? I think so. And anyways, no one reads my blog, so why shouldn't I guess....checking's too much like work). An adapter ring screws into the end of the lens where your filter would screw on. The adapter ring is like a flange, a flat metal ring now attached to the end of your lens. The ring flash then slots onto that flange, and the flash can now snap into place. As a result, you have a ring of LED lights all the way around your lens, so that when you are shooting very close range (macro) photography, you have constant and even light reflecting onto your subject for better exposure.
The ring light can be charged with the provided charger, or can work off of "AA" size batteries (regular batteries or rechargeable batteries). The light can be illuminated 360 degrees, or you can choose to light up just the left half or right half, depending on the subject you're shooting. The light, charger and 7 adapter rings ran me about $30.00. Incredibly affordable.
The more expensive units, which go into the $400 range, can adjust the brightness of their LEDs, and have other design refinements which this basic unit lacks. The more expensive units use better LEDs to give more natural light effects. Better in that the color temperature of the light is more specifically suited for close-view photography.
However, $400.00 is $370.00 more than what I paid for the Neerer ring flash setup.
Once I attached it to my Canon 60mm macro lens, I went about the house in search of test subjects. In fact, for certain types of portrait work, this ring flash could work as well. My wife, ever the reluctant model, looked very softly and demurely lit using this rig. Well, what I could see of her before she ducked her head and threw her hands up to cover what was left to photograph. Still and all, the shots I took of her clearly showed that this ring flash has some potential for light portrait work.
So, shooting hand held (of course for solid macro work, a tripod is best), I used the new ring flash to try out on some subjects around the house. From the shots of the berries that were my long-suffering wife's dessert, to some inanimate "objets" and a few flower blooms, this light wasn't bad at all. In fact, having used some more expensive proprietary units in the past, the Neewer unit worked very well in my opinion.
So, here's a quick pros and cons list from my short experience with the system:
Low price, series of adapter rings will let you use this on a number of different lenses.
Lightweight construction; does not throw off the lens balance.
Powerful enough light to be able to use for one-person portrait work, as well as for macro work.
Light is not variable. While you can turn on only the left, or only the right or the entire ring, you can't dim the intensity.
Slightly cheap-plastic feel to the construction, Not likely to be recovered intact by alien archaeologists millenia from now as they pick through my things.
Light temperature could be a bit cooler for a more diffuse feel.
Overall, you can't likely go wrong at the price. A ring flash gives you a lot more lighted detail when your macro lens is an inch away from a flower bloom that you're trying to capture. This ring flash does a nice job in that respect and, owing to the power of the lights, can be used at several feet distance from a model for one-on-one portrait work. This is a nice, inexpensive tool to put in the toolbox of tricks that we photographers use to get properly exposed results without harsh, uneven lighting.
Look for more pennies, flowers, and other trite macro shots to show up in my blogs and general site now that I have a new toy. The sheer excitement of it all!
To the one person who stumbled on my blog in error and actually read all the way to this point without falling into a coma, my thanks to you. I offer to the first person who e-mails me after reading this far, a Starbucks beverage of your choice on me. This is my way of helping caffeinate you back to consciousness after having read my whole blog entry. My contact e-mail is on the contact page of this site......Let's see who--if anyone--gets there first!
Chris Kiez, a hardcore photographer since the 80's, learned to take a picture before the age of selfies and cell phone photography, training on mechanical cameras and film. After years of taking photos of all manner of subjects and people, he did over a 10 year stint as a crime scene photographer on two continents. Now, he does portrait and landscape photos, and is currently distressing the world with his relentlessly, excruciatingly boring blogging. To buy what you see on this site, click here!