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Ringlight
Old 04-12-2009, 02:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi,

Well, I've been told by a friend to try to use ringlight flashes on my next shooting.
I took a look on some web sites and also some videos on youtube and I found out that many photographers really use this kind of lightning for glamour photos.
Then I have decided to look for some professionals opinions about it here on GG.
I couldn't find anything, at least on most recent topics on forum.

Does anyone have experience with this kind of lightning?
What's your opinion about it?

I work on a 4x4m home studio with 3x1000W heads and a 5D Mark II.
The only lens I have is the 50mm 1.8

Would it be a good idea trying the ringflash set up?
Is it worth?
What is the distance from the model that I should take if I use it?
Is it comfortable to keep the camera on my hands or I should use an tripod with it?

I've seen two different kinds of ringlights.
Actually I didn't understand if ringlights and ring flash are the same thing.

Well, I saw one that uses a speed light reflected for the ring, and another one that seems to have the flash itself inside the ring.
Am I wrong?

What's the difference of both in terms of results?
The one that uses a speed light seems to be much smaller, lighter and comfortable to use. Is the result the same of the other?



Thanks
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Re: Ringlight
Old 04-12-2009, 10:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've shot with someone elses ring flash before and had mixed results with it. In a studio with seamless paper you can get that shadowed effect around the entire model on the backdrop. Outside it can be a good fill flash or main light. It is considered flat lighting in either case unless you mix it with other lights.

Here is a sample of what you can get in a studio but this was a painted wall rather than
seamless paper.
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Re: Ringlight
Old 04-13-2009, 09:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I borrowed an Alien Bee ringlight for a month ... and returned it unhappy. Don't get me wrong, I love the look that the ringlights give ... but to me, it's an expensive toy that gives me one specific look (unless you mount it on a light stand and use it like an extra strobe light ... and expensive option if you ask me) If I want that ringlight look, I'll rent a ringlight ... (or just borrow that one again).


Something else to consider (since I only used the AB ringlight, my comments might not apply to other more expensive ringlights)--
  • The Alien Bee ringlight mounts onto your camera lens. When I used it with my 20-70 lens, it completely covered the zoom ring so I couldn't change the focal length (worked better with my 70-200). That meant walking back and forth to changing my framing of the model ... but when you change your distance to the model, you have to change your ringlight power (or aperture). That was very clunky
  • Bring your big guns. A ringlight adds a lot of weight to your camera setup, so if your typical model shoot is 6 to 8 hours, better start excercising those arms.
I think it's always best to "Try before you buy" ... esopecially when buying something as expensive as a ringlight.

That's just my opinion ... and, I could be right.
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Re: Ringlight
Old 04-13-2009, 11:02 AM   #4 (permalink)
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The Alien Bee ringlight doesn't actually mount to the camera lens. It mounts to the bottom of the camera and the lens goes through the ringlight but it does make using a zoom lens more difficult in some circumstances depending on what lens is used.
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Re: Ringlight
Old 04-13-2009, 08:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Alec,

The speedlite version is primarily used for macro work, and I don't think it'd give you enough power to shoot people.

I have an Alien Bees ringflash, and I like it for what it is, but it's not something you'll use most of the time. In fact, I can't remember the last time I've used it.

I guess my question to you is, what lighting do you have currently? I think a ringflash would be on the low end of the priority scale of gear to buy. Again, I like it when I need it, but... I just don't need it that often.
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Re: Ringlight
Old 04-14-2009, 03:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I have the AB ringflash unit and find it has it's uses. You're very right that it's primarily a one trick pony but... so is every light until you find new ways to use it (add gels, use softboxes, etc). The most use I got out of it was for a shoot where we were popping champagne. I knew I needed the foreground brighter than the background. I wanted that rounding of light on the model that the ringlight provided. I added side kickers to add more energy and curve to the model. And the lighting allowed almost too much of the spraying foam to be captured! I was photoshopping out foam bits that got in front of her face in most every shot.

So in this situation I really wouldn't have wanted to use another main light... the ringflash gave me what I wanted. My primary light is a beauty dish, because for what I shoot it's the light modifier that gives me the look I go for. It's another tool for your arsenal, find its uses and use it where appropriate.

P.S. you should find a thread in here from Rolando on ringflashes...
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Re: Ringlight
Old 04-15-2009, 10:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The ringlight is a one trick poney. However remember that the trick is flat frontlight. this can be useful if you pre-visualize your shot before you use it. You'll be able to bring out details otherwise impossible. ln other cases... it'll just ruin a good shot. So use a ringlight like super garlic... use it sparingly.
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Re: Ringlight
Old 04-17-2009, 01:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well guys, I want to thank you all for your opinions and experiences about the ring flash.
I can see that there are some pros and cons.
Seems to me that it is an expensive gadget that wouldn't help me a lot on glamour photography.
I could see that i can get good results using it, but maybe not as good as I would expect for such high investment.
What I think I'll do is hire an ring flash and see what happens.
I'll show you the results when I do it.

Thanks a lot!!!!
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Re: Ringlight
Old 04-17-2009, 07:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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If you live in an area where you can rent one when you need it.. that is the way to go.

I bought an AB800 and didn't think much of it. I sold it on eBay and got most of my money back thankfully. Then I found one I like much better on eBay and got it... But I seldom use it. It's a horribly expensive, very limited tool. Here's a ring flash post on my old blog, it sums up my feeling pretty well.


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Re: Ringlight
Old 04-17-2009, 09:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Well I differ a bit with much of what was said so far...I think it's a very versatile light. Using it as a TRUE ring flash, yes it can be a one trick pony because it has a distinctive look. AND when using the camera mount, Marty is correct...its cumbersome and a half step towards or away from the model can mean a full stop in exposure....can be critical...

What I like about it is the versatility...it can be used as a standard ringflash or as an additional light...whereas a normal strobe only has the one use...Also when shooting on the beach in windy conditions, it doesn't tend to get blown around as much when using it as an off camera flash....the "ring" allows the wind to pass through it and avoid the knockovers...I have 2 of em and I like them a lot...

Here are a few shots Ive taken with mine...













and of course...these two...from last Tuesday



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