Ring Light Love – Ray Ring Flash Review

February 26, 2009 - By 

The Good:

  • Great effect
  • It looks more natural than a strobe
  • Attention-getting looks
  • Lightweight
  • Makes everyone look hot
  • Robust construction
  • WAY cheaper than a powered ring light.

The Bad:

  • Rubber wedges are awkward to use
  • Doesn’t work well with long lenses

Highly recommended for event and portrait photographers.

Sample Shots:

Shots taken with the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF

Shots taken with theNikon 50mm f/1.4D AF

Shots taken with the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF

Product Page
Available on Amazon

Posted In:  Photography Reviews Video
  • Loved this tutorial!

    I particularly liked how you showed and explained the difference the ray ring flash makes.

    keep the tutorials about photography techniques coming!

  • sweet review, whole kit seems still a bit expensive, but it’s great to know what this can do!!

  • Very nice review! But, I would of been interested to know how well it performs in macro.

  • Great job showing off/explaining this ring flash. While watching I kept wondering if you were going to mention the ‘non-spec-sheet’ benefit of having people always looking at your out of the ordinary looking setup (and I’m glad you did!).

    I really enjoy all of your daily videos, please keep them coming!

  • Really great tutorial.
    I have a question. I want to learn photography and want to improve my skills but I don’t have a camera. Also I am doing full time Medical Science so that means I won’t be taking photography class. What camera do you recommend for me? Also please give me some tips. I read your article “shoot people” and really loved it. Thanks. I will be doing that when I get the camera. I live in Sydney Australia.

    Thank you very much.
    if you send me an e-mail it would be nice.

  • nice tutorial, been looking for a flash. this helps alot!

  • These shots aren’t all that bad which is nice for on-camera flash (meaning, attached/mounted to your camera). still the drawback is that it’s still direct flash. hazel eyes like mine will continue to get red eye just like that last photo you posted, which to me, is reason enough to throw out the image. the rest are lovely and truly create a visually interesting photo casting double shadows behind them giving the appearance of having two lights. very neat.

  • hey nick,

    just saw your great review about the ray ringflash… .i realy think i need one NOW 😉 .. so – i´m also using the nikon d700 but with the sigma ef500 flash… (i couldn find a ray ringflash build for this flash) … what do you think how important is the perfect fitting of the ringflashadapter to the flash… will it work at all to put that adapter to any other flash?

    thanks in advance
    greetings (from germany.. sorry for that poor english ;).. hope you can understsand me..

  • You mentioned that it can’t work with a long lens on the camera. Me being terrible at the technical aspects in photography.
    I have a Nikon D300 with a 18-105 mm lens, would that be too long to have on the camera whilst using the Ring Flash?

  • Thanks for the review; it’s informative. I’ve been thinking about picking one up and the price looks to be down to around 60 bucks on Ebay these days, which is a big plus.

  • The review was well done and interesting, but about the product itself…I don’t know.

    First of all, because it’s anchored to the flash itself you are married to the idea of using a physically short lens, say a 50-100mm prime or possibly a very limited zoom.

    It doesn’t seem practical for macro because of the large-diameter “hole” for the lens to poke through and the light-emitting surface areas are absolutely huge, and your subject is small at a very close range. Most of the light would never make it anywhere near your subject. Plus just about any macro lens or lens/extension tube combo would sick out pretty far, causing shadow vignetting of the flash’s light.

    As for event shooting, it seems kind of bulky and seems to hang down only two inches or so in front of the camera body. Doesn’t it get in the way of using the lens’ focusing, aperture, or zoom rings? Any events I’ve covered required that I focus fast, and the Ray Ring Flash looks like it would get in the way. Maybe my hands have claustrophobia or something.

    What is the Ray Ring Flash’s effect on the flash’s guide number? Another site says one stop. If someone has a compatible flash that they are happy with when taking event photos, i.e. its output is sufficient for the distance range within which they are comfortable working, but they are looking for a softer look, adding the Ray Ring Flash would reduce the distance within which their subjects will be properly illuminated. This one stop means that the circle around the photographer that will be properly illuminated is now half the area compared to not using the Ray Ring Flash…a consideration for those used to their flash’s capabilities.

    Let’s talk about cost…$200 and you still have to dish out for the actual flash unit. I looked at a US on-line camera store that sells it at $200 and they sell the Sigma EM-140 for $380. For that you get an actual flash unit that is made for macro, with a Guide Number of 46 @ ISO 100/feet so any of the event photos above used to demonstrate the Ray Ring Flash are do-able…they look like they were done with a 50mm lens at less than seven feet. The light-emitting ring is attached to the filter threads of the lens allowing you to use whatever lens you want and your hands have all kinds of room. OK, the EM-140 is not a “true” ring light because it has two small Xenon tubes…but you can use this for creating modelling. The catch-lights in your subjects’ eye wouldn’t be the same either (a ring with two bright spots at each side). I don’t work for or sell Sigma equipment, but the EM-140 is on my wish list. Plus the EM-140, or similar unit, is much more compact than lugging around a flash unit and an attachment that is about the same size as a small vegetable strainer with a long handle. I’ve have to invest in a new kit bag to accomodate it.

    I would only consider buying one if the price was below $100, could be mounted onto the lens’ filter threads, and was teathered to the flash unit (including the built-in pop-up flash) via some kind of adjustable universal adapter.

    As for attracting attention and illiciting a respose, I’ve used Billy Bob teeth for shooting uncooperative children, and they cost me only a couple of bucks. Try Spock ears, a Nixon mask, a funny hat, or something wacky but appropriate for the event if you want a reaction. Really!

    The Ray Ring Flash seems kind of expensive for a flash accessory that is not very flexible to use.

  • You can pick up a Chinese knock-off on e-bay for $36, shipping included.

  • why does it not work well with long lenses ? any sample pictures ?

  • George Christopher September 9, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Hey Nick,

    Have you seen or used the “Coco Ring Flash”? I saw it on amazon, and it looks interesting at $50.

    Check out this link, I would love your opinion. I think I am buying one just to test it out. Can’t really lose.

    Thanks for all the awesome videos.

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