macro ring light suggestions

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    I am looking to buy a ring light for use with my 85 mm macro lens. The Nikon version is $450 which is just about double my budget. Any suggestions on a good ring light for a reasonable sum of money?


    If you already have a speedlight, something like this might work:

    There are other brands, too: Saturn, Ray Flash, Orbis, but they do the same thing. I wanna try one myself.


    I got this one for Kat a year ago. It works pretty well, especially for $45. (Note: I believe this is the same one from a different seller):

    (FWIW it made the ‘O’ in Kat’s eye in last week’s contest)


    I’m kind of tempted by those cheap ringflash adapters, but I’m not sure I’d ever spend the $$ on a dedicated ring flash unit; I have an older manual one and I don’t think I’ve used it more than a couple of times. The basic problem with them is that they aren’t flexible at all, and using a light that close to the subject results in very severe falloff if you don’t light the background separately (e.g.

    For me, an off-camera flash works much better in most situations, e.g. – If this had been shot with a ring light on camera the far side of the flower would be much darker than the near, but I had my flash angled so the face was parallel to the flower, lighting it fairly evenly (I had a small softbox on the flash to even it out a bit too).


    Even on the expensive ones the light falloff is heavy. Like Sleeping said if you are going to use it for portraits you will need other light sources. If you are using strictly for macro work then form what I hear the cheaper ones work OK. You could also look into the LED ringlights which I hear are pretty good for macro work and not very expensive.

    I saw a woman at a show last year using a Canon one and it left me scratching my head. I never saw her post any of the shots so I gather it was a failure.


    For portraiture, I can only recommend looking HARD at the Alien Bees’ ABR-800. With a 30″ Moon Unit on it, it’s frelling awesome for headshots.

    And it’s not just a ringlight – it’s a rather nice monolight on its own. I use mine for a lot of stuff. Most of those images have lighting notes. Feel free to look around.


    Even on the expensive ones the light falloff is heavy.

    Money can’t bypass physics ;-). Light falls off based on the square of the distance, so for a correctly exposed subject, anything at 1.4x the flash-subject distance is a stop underexposed, and at twice the subject distance it’s two stops.

    You can work with the falloff in the right situation (e.g., but otherwise there three basic solutions:

    – Move the flash further away from the subject (which also means harder light, absent a modifier like a softbox)

    – Bounce the flash off a ceiling etc, which extends the distance the light is travelling and spreads it out so it’s coming from multiple directions. However, this requires some surface to bounce the light from, and drastically raises the required power output.

    – Use more light sources, e.g. a separate background light (or balance against daylight)


    Thanks for the advice. This is what I ended up buying.

    And this is a sample of what I want to do with it.



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