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agc828 Nov 24, 2009 5:14 PM

Why ring light flashes?
If you guys could humor me. Why do some photographers like using ring flash. I see on the examples on the website that the results are more natural. Less harsh compared to direct flash. Giving you that "studio look" from a portable flash. Have any of you used this ring flash or ring flashes in general?

Such as this one by Expoimaging called the "Ray Flash"...

And would it leave a reflected white ring in the subjects eyes? Which might bother some photographers. Though, since you would still need to use your external flash with this ring flash I suppose most would rather use some kind of diffuser like those offered by Lumiquest since it would give you similar results without the white ring in the eyes of the subject. And I think less cumbersome to setup and use.

mtclimber Nov 24, 2009 5:40 PM


A ring flash is particularly helpful when taking macro or close-up shots. A ring flash's out put can be finely tuned to give the right amount of light in the exact right spot, thus creating the basis for the "studio look comment.

In the final analysis, it is a very specialized light source. However, for a photographer doing lots and lots of macro photos, it is an especially good light solution.

Have a great day and a Happy Thanksgiving.

Sarah Joyce

VTphotog Nov 24, 2009 8:26 PM

Ring flashes, as Sarah says, are intended mostly for macro work. As such, they normally have a diffuse lens for even illumination at close ranges. Used for portraits, they give nice, even light, but, as you mention, do often show a ring reflection in subject's eye (or glasses). It won't eliminate redeye, though, being directly in line with the camera lens, so you would only want to use it for fill when general illumination is good.

agc828 Nov 24, 2009 11:39 PM

Ok thanks people.

I also ask because I've seen them used by reportage photographers as well for portraits.

My only problems with this kind of flash is that it will likely create a white ring reflection in the subjects eyes or glasses. Would you really want that in your photos? Personal choice. And that this "Ray Flash" is put on "top" of the external flash. making for a monsterous handheld camera setup. :)

I think the Lumiquest diffuser is more flexible as you can swap in different reflectors (e.g. silver, gold...etc.), no white ring reflection, and less imposing.

But as you both mentioned for macro photography I can see it's benefit.

I'll be picking up the Lumiquest diffuser kit in the end any how. That or the Gary Fong diffuser. Both very effective.

neilcrichton Nov 25, 2009 12:20 AM

Ring lights were originally intended for close-ups, where nearly shadowless lighting was required. They appear to used a lot for photographing items on a white background for use on e-Bay. There are far better ways to get diffuse lighting for portraits and other subjects. Bounce flash is one. And yes, the Gary Fong Lightsphere works very well. He's got a new one in the stores now, a little one for pop-up flashes. It isn't for P&S cameras, because it fits on the camera's hot shoe. Just got one yesterday. Seems to work okay, but not as well as the lightsphere on an external flash. It reduces contrast in the photo quite a bit, although that's easily fixed.

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