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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ring Around The Lens

Ring lights have become increasingly popular with a number of fashion and beauty photographers due to the unique catchlight they make and the often stark and direct look they give to the illumination in the image

This Article Features Photo Zoom

The ring light is one of the hottest lighting tools in fashion and beauty photography today. Long a favorite of scientific shooters and for other applications when the photographer wants to reduce or eliminate shadows on the subject, these tools have found a home with pros who value the unique catchlight in the eyes. The distinct look can be employed for close-up head shots, as well as more full-body compositions. Depending on your power requirements, you may prefer to use a self-contained unit like those mentioned in the “Close-Up Portable Power” sidebar, or you can go with the full power-pack and strobe versatility of the units mentioned in the body of this article. Adding the look to your portfolio definitely will catch the attention of both your clients and prospective clients.
The Bowens 3000Ws Ringflash Pro is small, light and portable. You can use it with the Bowens Quad power packs and their Quad generators. You can get 3000 Ws of power when plugged in or 1500 Ws on location with battery power. The single, circular flash tube is user-replaceable, and there are 10 20W halogen modeling lamps for composition. You can handhold the whole setup easily with the integrated grip handle. Bowens also makes a number of accessories to get the most out of the ring flash. Contact: Bowens, www.bowensusa.com.

The Broncolor Ringflash C is a 3200 Ws ring light that has a high-strength quartz flash tube and a modeling light comprised of 10 20W halogen lamps. The flash tube is protected by UV protective glass. Broncolor describes the Ringflash C as being adjusted asymmetrically to tweak the light’s optical axis. Also, a honeycomb grid set can be used in conjunction with the asymmetrical adjustment to fine-tune the light while maintaining the overall look of a ring light. Contact: Bron Imaging Group, www.bronimaging.com.

The Dynalite SR3200 Ring Flash can be powered up to 3200 Ws for plenty of performance. Dynalite has a reputation for making compact lighting equipment, and in that vein, the 2.5-pound ring flash is suitably portable for use on location or in the studio. The unit has a modeling light made of 10 20W halogen lamps. The 100mm diameter makes it compatible with just about any camera-and-lens setup. There are plenty of optional accessories and an integrated handle. Contact: Dynalite, www.dynalite.com.

The Elinchrom RF 3000 is a ring light dedicated to Elinchrom power packs. As the name implies, it can go up to 3000 Ws, and the universal camera adapter allows any 35mm SLR or DSLR or medium-format camera to be fitted with the unit. The flash tube is user-replaceable, and the included cord is 16 feet, which makes it convenient to move if you’re handholding. Contact: Elinchrom, www.elinchrom.us.

The Profoto ProRing 2 is the most powerful ring light in Profoto’s Pro lineup (the D4/Acute ring light puts out the same amount of power, but doesn’t have a modeling lamp). Connected to the appropriate power pack, it can produce up to 4800 Ws, and it has an integrated 200W modeling lamp (made up of 10 20W halogen bulbs). The ProRing 2 can be used with the entire line of Pro and D4 power packs. Including the camera holder, it weighs 4.85 pounds. Contact: Profoto, www.profoto-usa.com.

The ZEUS ZRM1 RingMaster from White Lightning is a compact and lightweight strobe (1.5 pounds, 8-inch diameter). It puts out 2500 Ws and has a modeling lamp made up of 8 20W bulbs. The flash itself is comprised of two half-circles, and it comes with a universal camera-mounting bracket. Contact: Paul C. Buff, www.white-lightning.com.

Close-Up Portable Power
For close-up shots when you may not need the power of a large capacitor-type power pack, you can try a portable-style ring light. Often associated with macro photography, these on-camera systems are light and relatively inexpensive.

Adorama’s DRF-14 Macro Ring-Flash is available for Canon E-TTL II cameras or Nikon i-TTL cameras. Contact: Adorama, www.adorama.com.

ExpoImaging makes the Ray Flash, which, as they describe, “is a unique adapter for your hot-shoe flash unit, designed to replicate the lighting effect produced by traditional, expensive and heavy powered studio ring-light units.” The Ray Flash attaches to your on-camera flash so it can take advantage of the camera’s TTL metering. Check the website to confirm compatibility. Contact: ExpoImaging, www.expoimaging.com.

The Novoflex Ring Flash is usually associated with macro photography, but it can be used for a number of other applications, as well. The system consists of a power unit that attaches to the camera’s hot-shoe and a ring flash that screws onto the filter thread of the lens. Contact: HP Marketing Corp., www.hpmarketingcorp.com.

Canon makes its own ring-flash system called the Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX. It uses the camera’s E-TTL capability and supports the Canon E-TTL wireless system. The MR-14EX is designed to be used with Canon’s EF 50mm ƒ/2.5 compact macro, EF 100mm ƒ/2.8 macro (both versions) and MP-E 65mm macro photo lenses. (It also can be used with the EF 180mm ƒ/3.5L macro USM via the Macrolite adapter 72C.) Contact: Canon, www.usa.canon.com.

The AlienBees ABR800 is a self-contained ring-flash system that’s rated to 320 Ws and weighs 2.5 pounds. It can take a number of accessories to increase its usefulness and features a universal camera-mounting bracket. Contact: AlienBees, www.alienbees.com.


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