Monday, June 1, 2009

Revenge of the Cheap Ring Flash Adapter.

I have been using a ring flash for the past few months. It makes for really dynamical images with saturated colors. I even use it to shoot flowers. The image on the left was taken with Profoto equipment: Ring Flash, two gridded strobe heads (one on each side), one behind the subject (Hey Luna!) and one large softbox close to camera left. However, a ring Flash, four strobes and a large softbox is quite an expensive set of equipment to own and will set you back a few grands.

So what if I only have $80 and buy one of the cheap Ring Flash Adapters that one can find on the web? They are pretty cool, you mount them on top of your Speedlite (I have the Canon 580X II), you hotshoe it on camera and you can even shoot TTL with it if you like. I have found mine on ebay (It's called "COCO"), but you can find one very similar here. Or you can buy the well known "Ray Flash" for about $200. The right image was shot with it and an optically slaved Alien Bee softbox at camera left.

The obvious, large difference is the power output. At the lowest power output of the power pack the Profoto Ring Flash still shoots at f20!; the Coco+Speedlite has a guide number of about 35 (i.e: at ISO100 you can shoot at f3.5 at 10 feet with the Speedlite at full power). The adapter only uses 1.5 stops of light compared to the naked Speedlite, not bad! So if you need depth of field
or need to shoot outdoors AND have the cash definitely go for the Profoto, but be prepared to temporarily blind your subject if you are not careful and go after that notorious "Ring Flash" look. (Note: the Ray Flash has an official GN of 45 with the same Speedlite, so it is a bit more efficient than the COCO).

The adapter allows for a slightly different look: I shot the image on the right at ISO 100, f2.8, wide angle and at 1/16 power for the Speedlite. I was at about 2 feet from the subject (Hey Lucianne!). This combination allows for two effects: a sharp light falloff and shallow dept of field. I think I dig it.

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