Check Out the RoundFlash Ring Flash Adapter
See this little bag? It's about six inches across, yet it contains a ~17", collapsible ring flash adapter.
Curious? I was too. So I ordered one and had it shipped over from Poland. Full test drive, inside.
What is it?
Basically it is a collapsible donut into which you stick a speedlight and the light comes out all ring flashy. Been there, done that, right? But the new part here is "collapsible." And it's pretty big:
That's about 17" across, fully deployed. Which is pretty soft as ring flash adapters go. So I decided to check it out.
Full disclosure: I am a ring flash slut. I now own five active and/or passive ring flashes. I can't help myself. Sorry. (Orbis, Ray Flash, RoundFlash, ABR800 and a Profoto Acute Ring.) And it must be said that I put them all to pretty regular use. Love ring as a fill. Love it.
But what kind of idiot builds a giant passive ring flash adapter big enough to house a speedlight and that covers your whole face when you use it?
This kind of idiot:
(Photo by Jeremy Reitman)
That's me, circa 2007 with a monstrosity I dubbed the HD Ring Flash. The HD did not stand for high-definition. It stood for Home Depot, from where I got all of the parts. (Here's how to make it.)
It contained three speedlights, all aimed straight at the front diffusion panel. It could overpower sun at up to 6 feet at a 250th of a sec sync. It was, as they say, "man portable."
I did use it, but it was heavy — really heavy for speedlight stuff. And you do kinda hide behind it. So, not the best machine for building subject rapport.
So mostly it sat in the house. For a while it threatened to become the wagon wheel coffee table of my marriage. I mean, the resemblance is undeniable.
So when we moved to a new house, it went away.
The RoundFlash is a similar design, built on one flash, that bends the light rather than straight-shots it. As a result, they do sacrifice power for evenness. But in their defense, it looks like they got the light pretty even.
Basically, you use your flash on-camera and just stick the RoundFlash on the combo. The flash goes in through the hole up top; the lens goes into the bungeed, star-shaped center. It holds pretty well. Not super-solid, but serviceable.
So yeah, it's a ring flash. And it's a really cool design and I'm sure I'll use it often.
Here's what I like about it:
1. Universal camera/flash fit. (This is what outs the Ray Flash as a practical choice as an adapter for me.)
2. It's big! This is good. Means better light quality.
3. It's lightweight. As in, like, nothing there — 11 oz.
4. It folds up nice and compact.
5. Build quality is very good.
So, What's Not to Like?
First off, it just kinda sits on your camera. Meaning, the bulge of your right-hand-side grip wants to push the aim a little to the right. Even more so when you get your hand in there. You can correct this by holding your left thumb in between the camera and the RoundFlash. It's a workaround, but not a deal-breaker. (This ding is unique to the RoundFlash.)
Second, it is camera/flash universal, but not camera/lens universal. It is a little clunky to use with zooms (lens is up in there, so zooming is inconvenient). It prefers autofocus lenses for that same reason. Because of the depth, use with really wide primes could be an issue. If your wide is something like a 24-70/2.8, they stick far enough out so where there shouldn't be a problem.
Lessee, what else. It blocks the AF assist light on your flash. Not a deal-breaker, but very important for people working in dark, run-and-gun environments like clubs and events.
The RoundFlash is available from Amazon in the US ($139, free shipping) or direct from RoundFlash ($155 + shipping).