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How Good Is Ring Flash for Portraits

Dennis Mansour , Nov 29, 2009; 09:55 p.m.

I shoot portraits and weddings and use various types of lighting using Beauty dish, shoot thru umbrellas. How much better, if better is ring flash? How close does it have to be to the subject? Do you have to use High ISO's or is it strong enough at ISO 200-400.
Thanks, rollsman

Responses

Bruce Cahn , Nov 29, 2009; 10:04 p.m.

The light is very even. Maybe too even. And it leaves a strange catchlight in the eyes. I think an umbrella or dish is better.

Patrick F , Nov 29, 2009; 10:55 p.m.

Better at what? It is a look, and a different one at that. Take a look at ring flash photos...if that is what you are going for then by all means do it. FYI it is more of a fashiony thing and is not very flattering, especially without lots of professional makeup. Different for portraits is not always better.

Steve Levine , Nov 30, 2009; 12:49 p.m.

They are certainly an acquired taste and aren't for everyone. But it might be just what you are looking for?

They were very trendy a few years ago with the fashion shooters , who've since moved on to the next trend.

They might be suitable for portraits of children? If you Google "ringlights", you should be able to find some examples.There was a website that showed how to build an inexpensive ring light ,made mostly out of cardboard, alum foil and an old flash. This way you can experiment with laying out any capital.

There are certainly many easier , more flattering ways to light portraits. In fact only the narrowest of faces will be flattered by such flat lighting. Normal and wide faces will look "wider". Which usually isn't so good in portraiture.

Rob Wall , Dec 01, 2009; 06:17 p.m.

Might be good for outdoor fill flash.

Bob Bill , Dec 04, 2009; 11:20 p.m.

Rob, I like it for fill and outdoors it isnt a big wind resistant modifier. Cant get much more on axis than a ring. A camera mounted ring and a gridded AB on a stand work great in modest wind. Correcting the catchlight is a couple of clicks. The AB has other uses, I like the 20 degree grid. Kicker, hair or bg. The AB accepts an umbrella and can be used in bounce mode as well for more traditional fill. The advantage is when you want the ring effect, you have it. Its just another tool. Some models really like it. Could be reason enough to have in your arsenal.

M. P. , Dec 05, 2009; 01:01 p.m.

I tried and hated the AB ring flash. It is very cheaply made and has too many breakable parts. When I used it on my wife as a test subject she also hated it saying it blinded her because it is so close and bright. It makes it almost impossible for the model to look directly at the camera. Also, it makes it very hard for you to talk to or make eye contact with the model because this big ring is in the way. Off camera its has very limited assosories as it can only take an umbrella which I seldom use in studio because too much light spill. I sent mine back and purchased a White Lighting x1600 for about the same price and LOVE it. I can pretty much get the same result with a properly place beauty dish or grid.

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