MetkuMods

Project : Ring Light

Fast, cheap and easy project for a photographer in a need for better lighting in close up photography.
 
Author: Jani 'Japala' Pönkkö
Published: 15.11.2009
In English In English
Suomeksi Suomeksi
 

Tests

 

Ring Light
Left: Canon Speedlite 430 EX Flash - Right: Ring Light

What can I say? The difference is clearly visible. The regular flash just isn't good for this kind of photography and this is the reason why I decided to do this little project in the first place. This particular bracelet is made by my wife. Thanks Christina.

 

Ring Light
Left: Canon Speedlite 430 EX Flash - Right: Ring Light

This is kind of a shot that one would expect to find on a hardware related website. This is a close up from a GFX card made by ATI.

The difference is more subtle than in the previous photo but still one should be able to notice the missing shadows. This makes it easier to follow all the traces, shows all the silk prints on the PCB etc.

 

Ring Light
Left: Canon Speedlite 430 EX Flash - Right: Ring Light

As the face of the clock is so much deeper than the rim around it, the flash can't light it up evenly. The ring light works great with this type of target eventhough I somehow managed to use different aperture on these two shots. The difference in lighting is still clearly demonstrated.

 

Ring Light
 

A close up from my wife's eye. You can usually see this kind of effect in glamour shots from beautiful womens. This is also the type of shot where some people may want to use a stronger diffuser. But for a "hobby photo" I'm quite pleased with the result.

 

Ring Light
 

And finally a quick photo from my daughter's eyes. This was shot with only a 90 mm ring light attached around the lense and without a diffused. As the photo is taken from longer distance, the separate leds fuse together to form more of a solid ring around the pupil of these sad eyes. She cried just a moment ago. NOT MY FAULT!

Conclusion

So there you have it, a quick'n'dirty, cheap and quite useful weekend project that resulted a piece of kit that one can do by themselves. I took bit of a shortcut by utilizing these amazing car lights but their cheap price, small size and bright light justified their usage.

The project is also doable and valid with compact digital cameras too. There are several models that offer filter adapters that one can use with these cameras. Or if the warranty is not an issue, the ring light can be attached directly to the camera body. This works the best with lenses that do not extend very far from the face of the camera.

If you have anything to ask, suggestions etc. please, post them to the topic below so everyone can benefit from the discussion. I'm not a pro photographer myself so all the tips are welcome. Thanks.


Subscribe to Metku.net
Digg It
Save This Page
Stumble it!
Add to Facebook

Metku on Facebook



Questions, Comments?. Visit the topic about this article on our forum.
  • 16.11.2009 00:30 Jipa

  • I'm so building my own one! ;)

    (no kidding, I already ordered the rings...)
  • 16.11.2009 01:57 Jyrchi

  • Hmm, sounds like a pretty good idea and wouldn't do any harm in my Sony either. I wonder how one of those rings would look in a case fan...
  • 16.11.2009 02:06 AK

  • I thought of making a ring light too after I saw those pop up in the latest additions at DealExtreme. My main usage will be with my macro lens so they seem to give enough light for that purpose. I'm hoping to get my rings next week as they should have left HK already.
  • 17.11.2009 00:26 gregdowning

  • Great ring light! Anyone know where I could get rings like this in red, green and blue LEDs? I am using a retroreflective screen for "greenscreen" shooting. The LED rings hotlights they sell for this are 1000s of dollars. Would love to do it with a $6 part! Also have any suggestions about building a dial to adjust the brightness?
  • 17.11.2009 02:20 japala

  • Easiest way to control the brightness would be to use a rheostat / potentiometer. Better solution would be using a LM317 adjustable regulator.

    And sorry, at the moment they do not carry other colors. :(
  • 17.11.2009 06:53 richardsan@mac.com

  • coloured LED's might not be available but coloured perspex™/lexan™/plexiglas™ certainly is available...i'm using a low-tech solution at present, but i am eager to make this project. i am a jewelry fabricator and this looks like it will fill the light around the small metal objects i make.
    i currently use a white glass [milk glass] lamp shade. it is truncated and fits around most of the small objects i photograph. i can get my nikon 950 right in there to shoot. in ambient light, it works quite well, scattering light all around.
    with the light ring, i'll be able to use a larger digital slur.
  • 17.11.2009 08:47 japala

  • Lamp shade is a good choice for this kind of small objects. I've also seen cones made out of paper to scatter the light coming in from the sides. This method has a dual purpose as it controls the reflections too.
  • 17.11.2009 10:44 IainMcClatchie

  • How much actual power do these ring lights have? I'd like to build a 10W to 20W light, but I'm going to guess that the decorative ring around a headlight is more like 2 watts.
  • 17.11.2009 14:13 japala

  • The smaller ring alone:
    P=U*I = 12 volts * 120 milliamps = 1.44 watts.

    With the larger one:
    12 volts * 330 milliamps = ~4 watts.

    If you want more but can't increase the size of the light, perhaps cold cathodes are the way to go. Sure, there are more powerful leds out there but they product quite a lot of heat and one should need several of them to make the light appear more uniform.

    The ones that I used offer a steady light but they are not that bright so that you could shoot hand held with very small apertures etc. This just offers a cost effective way to make a usable ring light. I would suggest a tripod but for example the photo from my wife's eye was shot 1/200, f6.3, ISO160 and 50 mm. So it all depends on one's needs.
  • 17.11.2009 14:29 maurice

  • I’d really like to know how much light this produces. By this I mean at a distance of 3 ft what is your shutter speed if an fstop of 5.6 and an iso of 200 is used? Even an estimate from the author would be fine. I just don’t want to build this to find it’s so underpowered that it’s not useful for my uses.
  • 17.11.2009 15:18 japala

  • Maurice, read the post above your question.
  • 17.11.2009 16:38 maurice

  • Thank japala. I missed that comment. Just to be clear there was no cropping done on that photo, correct? My guess would be that you were about 20 cm away from the eye, right? Since light dissipates by the reciprocal of the square of distance you probably need a tripod for all picture taken from 50 cm or more. Do my guestimations seem reasonable?
  • 17.11.2009 18:26 japala

  • No cropping. I believe you are right about the distance. For example that photo of my daughter's eyes is already 1/25 with ISO125 and f7. For some reason I managed to keep it steady even without a tripod but with that slow shutter speed that was a near miracle. :)
  • 17.11.2009 21:04 nismode

  • Japala, I saw your mod via a tech blog, and I am very impressed. I would like to make something similar, or I'd be willing to pay you have you make me one, since I'm not really adept with soldering and such.

    Also, you say that you used a motorcycle battery to power these...Is there any other way to get these powered? Possibly via the hotshoe?
  • 17.11.2009 22:25 japala

  • I'm not so familiar with the electrical side of the hotshoes but I believe they give a burst of power when the flash is required to go off... I really can't say if that could be used to power these or is the signal more of a signal to flash to fire and it doesn't deliver that much power... Sorry.

    Hehe, well, soldering is the easiest part in this mod. Just find anyone with a soldering iron and they will be able to do this for you. :)
  • 18.11.2009 02:38 Jipa

  • I thought about that as well, but for all I know the flash shoe doesn't have any usable voltages, and for sure no 12 volts. :( Guess I'll have to build a transformer powered version as well.
  • 18.11.2009 22:09 SGTDRE

  • I just Finished reading through your project on the Ring light, and I was wondering, Could these Ring lights be used on Computers? I am currently in the pricess of building and moding a New Computer Build. And If I understand correctly, the Ring lights operate on 12v and seeing most add on's to a computer are 12v. I would think that these ring lights would work, but I just wanted to get your thoughts.

    Thanks
    SGTDRE
  • 19.11.2009 09:55 japala

  • Yep, they should work straight from the 12 volt supply just fine. Just use the yellow for positive and one black wire for ground from the molex wire and you are set. :)
  • 19.11.2009 12:16 anacron

  • oh man! I made similar thing just maybe two months ago, but I did it with 5mm leds and the soldering job was crazy compared to this, I also put dimmer in there, but you don't really need to ever use it. when you buy filters you usually get those plastic cases with them, that's what I used for case for my leds. the whole thing was made for 52mm diameter.

    But even the leds felt really bright, I didn't thing they were too powerful for macro shots, worked great for close up potrets though. The way japala made it it has more than double of leds, and it's way bigger, but i'm not sure if the leds are as powerful as what I used, but it sure looks like they are!
  • 20.11.2009 18:11 nismode

  • japala wrote:
    I'm not so familiar with the electrical side of the hotshoes but I believe they give a burst of power when the flash is required to go off... I really can't say if that could be used to power these or is the signal more of a signal to flash to fire and it doesn't deliver that much power... Sorry.

    Hehe, well, soldering is the easiest part in this mod. Just find anyone with a soldering iron and they will be able to do this for you. :)


    Lol, the easiest part would be difficult for me, I'd rather just someone who has done it before do it for me honestly.
    Can you give a bit more details on how to connect this to the power? You don't really show it here, and I'm not all that familiar with the electricity side of electronics.

    Quote:
    I thought about that as well, but for all I know the flash shoe doesn't have any usable voltages, and for sure no 12 volts. :( Guess I'll have to build a transformer powered version as well.


    So, if one were to somehow make these like a normal flash that could be used with a battery pack and a capacitor, and connect it to the hotshoe, could that work then?
  • 21.11.2009 17:17 japala

  • Is there is a reason why you need to make it work like a flash? In theory you could run higher voltage to the leds as you would only pulse the light but this would make it harder to take the actual photos as the camera's metering electronics does not know about the leds flash that it is rigged to the camera...

    Image

    In this photo one can clearly see the wiring of the ring light. The red wire is where you hook up the plus line coming from the 12 volt source. Black wire on the ring light is the where you hook up the ground (negative) wire coming from the power supply. It doesn't matter if you use a regulated wall transformer or a battery, the hookup is the same. Just cut away the original connector from the ring light and hook it up to the power supply of your choice.
  • 22.11.2009 16:47 JAMF

  • Nice mod. I'll run it off a 9V block once I've received the parts and made my own. Then I'll see how the camera copes with the lower power.

    Q: Did you sand both sides of the ring in front of the LEDs?
  • 22.11.2009 17:12 japala

  • Yep, I did.
  • 26.12.2009 00:27 DanTheMan

  • Japala , I LOVE IT !!! When I first started reading here and playing with LED's I used a foam-core board to make something similar to this, but just never could get it to "work" the way I wanted it to. For me with this the mounting was the problem, and I NEVER even thought about using one of the dozens of CD cases for it and now OF COURSE you came through once again.

    THANKS for this one, it is GREAT !!!


    Dan
  • 02.01.2010 16:08 JAMF

  • Just FYI: DealExtreme has a "temporary" stock shortage since 22.11.2009, so I've been waiting almost 6 weeks. Something to consider when placing your order.
  • 02.01.2010 17:10 japala

  • It is too bad that they can't fill the orders. It seems that this is the case with most of their items. DX used to work quite well a year ago but now...
  • 19.01.2010 07:09 systemA

  • Hi,

    Firstly thank you for this wonderful article! I'm glad I found an easy solution for a ring light. I plan to build one (have ordered the parts 90mm and 120mm) and know how to solder, but can you recommend a cheap battery solution? I have RC batteries ranging from 7.4v to 10.8v accessible. How would you design a battery pack? I would like it to be small and portable. Also, what about the implementation of a potentiometer to adjust the level of brightness? Your feedback is very much appreciated, thank you!
  • 27.01.2010 16:07 kansalainen

  • systemA wrote:
    Hi,

    Firstly thank you for this wonderful article! I'm glad I found an easy solution for a ring light. I plan to build one (have ordered the parts 90mm and 120mm) and know how to solder, but can you recommend a cheap battery solution? I have RC batteries ranging from 7.4v to 10.8v accessible. How would you design a battery pack? I would like it to be small and portable. Also, what about the implementation of a potentiometer to adjust the level of brightness? Your feedback is very much appreciated, thank you!


    This is a decent battery pack, that can be used both as a flash booster and to give amph to ring light: click
  • 27.01.2010 16:56 japala

  • kansalainen wrote:
    This is a decent battery pack, that can be used both as a flash booster and to give amph to ring light: click


    This will not work with the rings from the modding article. It uses only 6 AA batteries so it can't provide enough voltage that the 12 volt rings need.
  • 02.02.2010 06:47 systemA

  • Hi again,

    Just an update; received my rings today! Surprisingly, the order from DX came in under two weeks! Ship date was marked as the 21st of Janurary. I ordered both the 90mm and 120mm identical to the ones in the article. Unfortunately, the B+W 72mm filter I have is slightly too wide in diameter for the 90mm ring light to fit snug around. I plan on buying and scrapping a cheapo 72mm Circular Polarizer as it'll be easier to mount (rather than having to rotate the entire thing when putting it on).

    For the CD case enclosure, I've decided to flip it around and mount the lights on the bottom of the cd spindle case, and use the room on top to accommodate battery and switches. I have a 10k potentiometer/audio taper that will be used to adjust light intensity output, and another switch to flip power on/off. For battery, I decided to just use a standard 9v block, perfect for portability's sake. I will update some pictures soon. Thanks for the wonderful article again :)
  • 02.02.2010 13:33 japala

  • No problem. Make sure you keep us updated on your progress! :)
  • 11.02.2010 04:24 the-cat007

  • hi,
    great invention !!

    I have a question,
    i bought from DX 2 set of LED rings .

    Can I give them power of 14V or is it too much?

    Thank you for that you share with us your ideas.

    regards,
    the-cat007
  • 11.02.2010 09:16 japala

  • 14 could be too much for them. They might survive it if you use them only for a few seconds at a time but the leds will get warm very fast thus killing/dimming them early.
  • 11.02.2010 18:26 the-cat007

  • hi, thanks for the answer,

    So what's the maximum that can be put?
  • 11.02.2010 18:34 japala

  • Everything over 12 volts is too much. I believe I tested the ring with 12.6 volts and it started to heat up pretty fast. Just test and see/feel how the temperature starts to rise. Anything above "barely warm" is too much.
  • 11.02.2010 22:40 the-cat007

  • OK, thank you

    i appreciated your help.

    thank you!!!
  • 13.02.2010 13:10 JeppaRI

  • I'm thinking of doing this kind of light to use with S90 with ring led sizes 60m and 80mm.

    I'm just wondering what kind of battery should I use. If I make a battery pack of 10 x 1,2V AAA-sized 1100mAH ones, do you think it will last in use more than ten minutes?

    Another option would be 10 x 1,2 AA 2600mAH.

    The AAA sized would be much more compact, so it would be better in that way (I'm planning to make an attachment box I can put to the bottom of S90 with tripod screw).
  • 13.02.2010 21:48 japala

  • In the article I state that the 90 mm ring uses 120 milliamps with 12 volts. 80 mm ring has the same amount of leds and the 60 mm one has slightly less.

    So, we could use 120 mA and for example 100 mA in our calculations. The two rings would consume 220 mA when turned on and you have that 1100 mAh batterypack. In theory it should last 5 hours. I don't think you will get that much with full brightness but it should work more than "10 minutes". :)
  • 04.04.2010 00:09 iamclaus

  • I ordered the 120mm, 90mm and 70mm LED rings from DealExtreme and they arrived a couple days ago. I took the ideas from the article and added a bit... The housing goes a step further in that I used the DVD spindle case lid as the lens of the finished LED ringlight and the base of the spindle case for the backside. The lid was trimmed to sit flush with the raised portions of the base. 55mm holes were then cut to match the inside diameter of the smallest LED ring. 3.5mm minijack cables were then attached to the LED rings and threaded through the DVD spindle case base to allow for strain relief.

    Two 9v alkaline batteries are wired in series to provide 18v which is then fed to a NTE966 voltage regulator which drops the voltage down to a constant 12v. From there, three 3.5mm minijack ports are connected in series. All the parts fit neatly into an Altoids tin which can be mounted to the bottom of the camera so that everything is handsfree. Each LED ring can be powered separately simply by plugging or unplugging the respective cable.

    A modified Cokin filter holder is mounted to the back of the LED ringlight and the whole assembly attaches to the lens via a standard Cokin adapter ring. This allows the LED ringlight to be mounted on any lens that you have the proper sized Cokin adapter ring. However, vignetting may be an issue with lenses requiring filters larger than 55mm or with wide viewing angles.

    Pics to prove it happened...
    Image
    Image
    Image
    Image
    Image
    Image
    Image
    Image
    Image
    Image
  • 04.04.2010 14:48 japala

  • Nicely done :) The battery box was a great idea.
  • 04.09.2011 21:59 GKT2013

  • Japala or iamclaus

    I would love to make this ring light for my Canon but I have to admit I'm not experienced in electrical modding... Would it be possible to send me detailed instructions (particularly the battery pack and wiring part) or provide a link where I can learn how to make a battery pack (such as the altoid pack)... Thanks!!

    BTW good job, very impressive and innovative... keep up the good work.

    Cheers

    GKT2013
Questions, Comments?. Visit the topic about this article on our forum.


Pages:  1 2 3 4 5 


 
  Content in english!
  Sisältö suomeksi!

 Google

 .:Notice!
En ota mitään vastuuta tuhoutuneesta tai hajonneesta laitteistosta tai sen osasta.

Disclaimer! I will not take any responsibility for any destroyed or damaged hardware.




Add to Technorati Favorites
add
add
add
add
add

 .:Back to top Bandwidth by Mpoli

Copyright © Metku.net, All Rights Reserved.
All content and graphics in MetkuMods are sole property of Jani Pönkkö and may not be reproduced or copied in any manner without written permission from him.
All brand names, trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective owners.Privacy Policy