A few months ago, I received diyphotography.net‘s DIY Ring Flash Kit to play with and I finally had some spare time to build it and test it out. Here is my review of the DIY Ring Flash Kit.
What’s in the box
– Ring Flash Bracket (a $9.95 option that’s a must have)
– Inner sliver ring
– Outer black plastic ring
– Silver strip (for center ring)
– 2 strips of tape (witch are not part of the kit anymore since people were wondering what it was for, myself included)
I was lucky enough to get the Double Flash Bracket as a bonus. Even tough I’m not reviewing it, I strongly recommend it! It’s compact, lightweight and the price is right!
Putting the Ring Flash Together
It took me roughly 20 minutes to assemble the ring flash with the flash bracket. It was an painless process with the easy to read instructions. What’s also cool about the instructions is the QR code that links directly to the Lighting Kits Website when videos are available. A geek like me loves this! 🙂
The only part that wasn’t clear was the bending of the bracket. As you can see from this image, the dotted lines didn’t line up with the bracket. So I took a guess and lined it up at the narrow end and it ended up being a good guess. Udi at DIYPhotography.net confirms that the current drawing is perfectly scaled so you won’t have to guess. 🙂
Adding Your Flash and Camera
I hooked up my Nikon D300s to the bracket using my tripod plate. I made sure it was attached as far away from the ring flash as possible so that the lens didn’t protrude on the other side of the ring flash to avoid possible light glare in my Nikkor 18-200mm VR lens. I wouldn’t have to put it so far if a had a shorter lens like the Nikkor 50mm.
Adding the SB-800 was easy. Just slip it in the bottom hole of the ring flash and use the 3 blue elastics to secure it to the bracket. And you’re done!
Here’s a setup without the camera and the SB-800 mounted directly on the tripod.
And here’s a setup with the camera mounted on the tripod.
OK, now to test this baby out. I grabbed my good friend and fellow photographer Martin and did a few quick headshots. I compared the ring flash with a direct SB-800. By doing this, I wanted to test 2 things: 1- image quality and 2-the flash power difference to achieve the same exposure.
Here are the unprocessed RAW shots I selected…
Direct SB-800 strobe mounted on camera hotshoe
DIY ring flash using the SB-800
For image quality, the DIY ring flash wins hands down, as was expected. Shadows are soft and subdued. The catch light in the eyes is bigger making them brighter. What surprised me though was the cooler light generated by the ring flash. Roughly 700 kelvins cooler. Even though I prefer a cooler look, it’s something to take into consideration when shooting.
To get the same exposure, I went from an aperture of f2.8 with the ring flash to f11 with the direct SB-800. That’s a 4 stop difference. The ring flash does suck up some power.
Note: Before anyone asks me how I triggered the SB-800, I can tell you that I used Pocket Wizards. But I also tested the CLS using the built-in flash and it worked great as well.
I really enjoyed playing with the DIY Ring Flash. It’s so light weight that I was hand holding my camera the whole time which makes for a versatile diffused light source. The light quality is much better than a direct strobe so I wouldn’t hesitate to use it as my front fill light instead of an extra softbox.
For the quality/price ratio, you really can’t go wrong here. It’s a great invention that deserves a place in any photographer’s tool kit. You can get more information on the DIY Ring Flash right HERE.