Ring Flash Week: Intro and Resources

Welcome to Strobist Ring Flash Week and the first post thereof. First off, there seems to be some confusion as to whether it is a "ring flash" or a "ringflash" or a "ring light" or a "ringlight."

I am going with "ring flash" for the most part unless there is a reason to differ in a particular circumstance. But the important thing was to get all four versions into the first paragraph to make the search engines happy.

(Now, c'mon -- isn't the honesty refreshing?)

The goal of this week is three-fold:

1. To elevate the ring flash technique discussion to somewhere above the "up against the wall" single-light shot.
2. To show you how to build a completely new DIY version, which is speedlight-based and is powerful enough to use in full daylight. A few of you have seen it, and know just how pumped i am about it.
3. To prime the pump for discussion and group design input for a small, cheap, passive ring flash light mod that will very likely actually be manufactured.

More on that last one later, and much more after the jump.

This Week's Menu:

Today: Overview and a list of internal and external gear resources.

Tuesday: A look at a reader who is shooting cool ring flash stuff and a high-end commercial shooter who uses it well, too.

Wednesday: The design process for my own version.

Thursday: How to build the DIY Strobist HD Ring Flash.

Friday: Shooting/Experimenting with the HD Ring Flash.


Ring Flash Resources

Below is a list of internal and external ring flash resources. Please feel free to add any links you may have along these lines to the comments to improve the value of the list.

Whether you are going the cheap DIY route or the expensive studio route, there is something for every wallet size.

The shot at left, BTW, is of Czech model Lenka. She was shot with the DIY ring flash designed by Dennison Bertram, which is linked below.

:: 3 Affordable Ring Flashes, Compared ::

:: Ringflash, Jill Greenberg using ::
:: Ring flash overuse of, Joe McNally on ::

:: Andrew's fake ring flash in a pinch ::
:: Paul's fake cardboard ring flash ::
:: Over-and-under sort ring-ish flash ::

:: Dennis' DIY ring flash ::
:: Jedrek's DIY Ringflash ::
:: Richard's DIY Ringflash ::
:: Tommy's Fold-Flat DIY Ringflash ::
:: David X. Tejada's DIY tungsten ring light ::
:: How to make said tungsten ringlight ::


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Blogger Deer Old Dad said...

If this is ultimately going to be mass-produced, you'll go the molded-plastic route. At that point, you might as well put in custom electronics and a tube.

Anyway, I'll see if I can come up with something within the parameters.

November 12, 2007 12:25 AM  
Blogger Venkatdeep said...

Going the DIY way...I found these links sometime back..Both methods use acrylic optic fibers. The first one uses the on camera flash but it could be adapted to use a separate flash unit:



November 12, 2007 12:46 AM  
Anonymous David Kennedy said...

Sounds like a cool idea--hopefully there's enough demand for them that the price can be pretty low. Injection-molded plastic sounds less expensive than it is (the costs are all in the molds). Cheers!

November 12, 2007 1:01 AM  
Blogger echomrg said...

Hi, the link on the model's picture is a 404.

Can't wait to see the plans for you DIY version!


November 12, 2007 3:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take Andrew's fake ringlight in a pinch. Add pizza. Get Mista Fitz' version.

November 12, 2007 4:35 AM  
Blogger Tuomo said...

I would think the diffusion material could be gradually thicker on the bottom where the flash enters the ring, and thinner on the top half?

November 12, 2007 5:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about an article explaining why we would want to use a ring flash in the first place? I realize this might seem like a dumb question, but what makes a ring flash different from, say, a big soft box near the camera?

The most basic and important lesson I've learned on this site is to get the flash away from the camera, and now you're talking about a flash that is exactly inline with the camera lens.


November 12, 2007 8:29 AM  
Blogger Russ said...

On the ring-flash design, why not use that fiber-optic stuff the use in those cheesy lamps (here: http://www.fiberopticproducts.com/danise/cart.pl?db=stuff.dat&category=Lamps

to move the light from the single strobe and spread into a ring covered with a diffuser. Fiber optics transmits light very well, and if there are enough strands you should be able to move all of the light from the strobe into any shape you want. Does this make sense?


November 12, 2007 10:19 AM  
Blogger Russ said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 12, 2007 10:21 AM  
Blogger Russ said...

I have a second ring light thought. I have not seen anyone try to make a ring light out of a circular fluorescent light yet. Seems it would be simple and very even. Not sure if they are bright enough though...like I said, I have not tried this yet. But I think it would work. Here is a link to one of the bulbs: http://www.bulborama.com/store/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=661

It is 4200k. I have not researched this much...my guess is there are 5000k bulbs as well.

What do you think? Has anyone tried this?


November 12, 2007 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is something already available in Europe which I think this would be very similar to in function. Watch that Patent law.



Or if those links don't work go here; http://www.brenner-foto.de
and type in "Ringblitzvorsatz" in the "suche" box top left.

Kind regards

November 12, 2007 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In an old post over on SportsShooter.com, I think the great Robert Seale summed up ringlights nicely:

Are you a dentist?

Have you ever seen a movie that was lit with a ring light? Would you want to watch it if it was?

Just because a gadget exists - doesn't mean it is the thing to use.

About the only thing it is good for is heavily underexposed fill. There are a few people who do this very tastefully, (e.g. Dan Winters). When I see it used as the only light source, in most cases, it usually isn't very flattering.

Just my opinion....suitable for framing or wrapping fish.

November 12, 2007 12:01 PM  
Blogger RichSnyder said...

I'd think that it would need to be something like the elliptical ring flash that shown last week.

cone snoot sits on top of the flash and then directs the flash to the elliptical bounce ring. Instead of being flat like the example, it could be slightly curved to help focus the light.

To keep it looking "pro" it could have a hood on the outside of the ellipse painted black, or made of black plastic.

The biggest downside would be that it would be bulky and not so easy to carry in the camera bag.

November 12, 2007 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Pieroprv said...

"To show you how to build a completely new DIY version"

Yeah, right... just after I've finished my own cumbersome Jedrek-type ringflash! A week too late! ;)

November 12, 2007 12:35 PM  
Anonymous peterg22 said...

Is that a bagel or a donut? A bagel would be more robust long term..

November 12, 2007 1:48 PM  
Blogger Andy T said...

I've been working on my own fibre optic based ring flash inspired by the one found on the Fuzzcraft site. Very much a work in progress, I've got 12 strands of fibre in a polystyrene ring of the sort used for making floral decorations.

November 12, 2007 3:39 PM  
Anonymous dan said...

I am so tired of hearing about ringflash, and diy ringflash, and seeing all these crappy ringflashes.

See you next week.

November 12, 2007 4:32 PM  
Blogger zebrafive said...

Here's a few links to my DIY ring light (not technically a flash, but there you go), and the result:


November 12, 2007 4:49 PM  
Blogger easymovet said...

using the inverse square law you can make a uniform LARGE ring flash by modifying the light of a single hot shoe flash beam


November 12, 2007 6:07 PM  
Blogger jrrome said...

I think after this week, we don't talk about ringflashes for a very long while.

This weekend I was thinking it was about time to send a message to Strobist HQ and plead you to not have any more postings on DIY rf's. Then I saw today's post.

I think we should all just spend the dough, and buy a REAL one and get over it. We can shoot way too many images of midriffs, and realize it's too heavy, too hot and our images all look the same.

I know you will have very interesting things this week, because you always do, David. Keep up the good work. Banish DIY rf's to Flickr Threads!

Oh yeah, isn't it technically ON camera flash?

November 12, 2007 8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This guy was discussed several months ago for his work using a round flourescent lamp.


November 12, 2007 11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the 'Isn't ringflash on camera flash?' question is answered with a 'No'. The light is wrapped around the lens and not coming off the hotshoe in it's traditional function.


November 13, 2007 4:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi folks,

just as a heads-up, my company has been developing a strobist-inspired modular ring flash that we'll be launching early in the new year.

many of you guys are on our email list but we haven't been in touch for a while as we've been working our backsides off to develop our ring flash to the stage where it's totally manufacturable and worthy of pro and serious amateur photographers.

why ring-flash ? it's another tool in the box and once you've used one you discover they are incredibly flexible tools. not much point in using one at the moment as they're all ferociously expensive, heavy and bulky.

the orbis™ ring flash will change all that.

i'll post something to the flickr discussion board too, but suffice to say you'll be hearing more from us over the next few months, hopefully on strobist. (david, if my recent emails didn't reach you, please contact me at teamATenlightphotopro.com to discuss).

cheers !

james from enlight photo

November 13, 2007 6:18 AM  
Anonymous ogalthorpe 2.1 said...

damn... i thought this article was about showing off my prince albert.

November 13, 2007 6:19 AM  
Anonymous Neil said...

A lot of anti- ring flash feelings here. Its just another technique is'nt it? Who gives a four-x where the flash is as long as you make good pictures with it!

I'm personally quite interested in something that is light, tough, portable, professional looking, straps right onto my camera solidly and lets me shoot nicely lit images without screwing around with lightstands in a crowded dancefloor wedding reception, party or whatever. Setups are all very well but what about when there is'nt time? If thats a well made ringflash then all the better. At the moment its a hope of a white ceiling or wall.

November 13, 2007 7:46 AM  
Blogger Unfocused said...

Oh Mine...David you got to see this one specially made to adapt in a SB-800 Available in Europe developed by a professional photographer from the Czech Republic. I think is a very good starting point, flaws huge space betwen the lens and the ring, we can do better...


Lets go for it!

unfocused_mind at flickr

November 13, 2007 5:40 PM  
Blogger Allie said...

Not sure if this has already been posted (didn't see that it had), but David Tejada posted a DIY Ring Flash on Monday...


November 20, 2007 10:57 AM  
Blogger JavaDuke said...

Here's my version of DIY ringlight:


December 07, 2007 2:47 PM  
Blogger omegamanha said...

Hi David
We took David Tejadas excellent design and modified it a bit creating a custom bracket to hold the ringlight, flash, and camera. Detailed instructions are here: http://flickr.com/photos/8472611@N04/sets/72157603816045949/

Thanks and keep up the excellent work!

January 31, 2008 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Alex The Greek said...

Hi David!

Just built my contribution to the ring flash DIY world, It's a £1.50 ($3) construction made from a plant pot , a hanging basket liner and a frosted plastic plate (exactly the same as omni-bounce flash diffuser material). It weighs 230 grams and uses my Nikon D200's on board flash:


Tell me what you think if you get a second,


April 29, 2008 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Aki Korhonen said...

Here is my ring flash I did around the end of last year / beginning of this year:

» Workflow
» Finished
» Quick tests

A bit too heavy and bulky, but I've been thinking of doing a lighter version someday.

July 16, 2008 4:55 AM  
Blogger John Ricard said...

John Ricard Presents: Rayflash VS Ring Flash


John Ricard Presents: How to Use a Ring Flash


November 23, 2008 8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice website but I think you need to check your links most of the ones I have tried tonight give page load errors.

March 06, 2009 7:06 AM  
Blogger metatim said...

I did a homemade diy ring light setup a while back using cold cathode tubes... it created a really great triangle catchlight. really cheap, too. link:


December 30, 2010 2:00 AM  

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