So, I got a macro ring flash today. Its the low price model, made by Neewer, and designed to put a ring of LED lights around your lens for macro and closer-view photography. The company lists pictures of the item here:  

http://www.neewer.com/led-macro-ring-flash-fc100-for-canon-7d-5d-60d-50d-400d.html

In any event, the ring flash comes with 7 adapter rings (was it 7? I think so. And anyways, no one reads my blog, so why shouldn't I guess....checking's too much like work). An adapter ring screws into the end of the lens where your filter would screw on. The adapter ring is like a flange, a flat metal ring now attached to the end of your lens. The ring flash then slots onto that flange, and the flash can now snap into place. As a result, you have a ring of LED lights all the way around your lens, so that when you are shooting very close range (macro) photography, you have constant and even light reflecting onto your subject for better exposure. 

The ring light can be charged with the provided charger, or can work off of "AA" size batteries (regular batteries or rechargeable batteries). The light can be illuminated 360 degrees, or you can choose to light up just the left half or right half, depending on the subject you're shooting. The light, charger and 7 adapter rings ran me about $30.00. Incredibly affordable.

The more expensive units, which go into the $400 range, can adjust the brightness of their LEDs, and have other design refinements which this basic unit lacks. The more expensive units use better LEDs to give more natural light effects. Better in that the color temperature of the light is more specifically suited for close-view photography.

However, $400.00 is $370.00 more than what I paid for the Neerer ring flash setup. 

Once I attached it to my Canon 60mm macro lens, I went about the house in search of test subjects. In fact, for certain types of portrait work, this ring flash could work as well. My wife, ever the reluctant model, looked very softly and demurely lit using this rig. Well, what I could see of her before she ducked her head and threw her hands up to cover what was left to photograph. Still and all, the shots I took of her clearly showed that this ring flash has some potential for light portrait work.

So, shooting hand held (of course for solid macro work, a tripod is best), I used the new ring flash to try out on some subjects around the house. From the shots of the berries that were my long-suffering wife's dessert, to some inanimate "objets" and a few flower blooms, this light wasn't bad at all. In fact, having used some more expensive proprietary units in the past, the Neewer unit worked very well in my opinion.

So, here's a quick pros and cons list from my short experience with the system:

Pros:

Low price, series of adapter rings will let you use this on a number of different lenses.
Lightweight construction; does not throw off the lens balance.
Powerful enough light to be able to use for one-person portrait work, as well as for macro work.

Cons:

Light is not variable. While you can turn on only the left, or only the right or the entire ring, you can't dim the intensity.
Slightly cheap-plastic feel to the construction, Not likely to be recovered intact by alien archaeologists millenia from now as they pick through my things.
Light temperature could be a bit cooler for a more diffuse feel.

Overall, you can't likely go wrong at the price. A ring flash gives you a lot more lighted detail when your macro lens is an inch away from a flower bloom that you're trying to capture.  This ring flash does a nice job in that respect and, owing to the power of the lights, can be used at several feet distance from a model for one-on-one portrait work. This is a nice, inexpensive tool to put in the toolbox of tricks that we photographers use to get properly exposed results without harsh, uneven lighting.

Look for more pennies, flowers, and other trite macro shots to show up in my blogs and general site now that I have a new toy. The sheer excitement of it all! 

To the one person who stumbled on my blog in error and actually read all the way to this point without falling into a coma, my thanks to you. I offer to the first person who e-mails me after reading this far, a Starbucks beverage of your choice on me. This is my way of helping caffeinate you back to consciousness after having read my whole blog entry. My contact e-mail is on the contact page of this site......Let's see who--if anyone--gets there first!

Best,

Chris
 


Comments

04/02/2012 05:09

I read your blog ;-)

I never thought of using one of those for portrait.

Can't really go wrong at hat price.

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George Spence
14/07/2012 19:41

Thanks for the review. I shoot a lot of macro and saw it on Amazon for that low price. After reading your blog, I've decided to buy one.

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celeste
27/12/2013 21:01

ditto...interesting I was tempted by the price, thanks for the review

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04/02/2012 05:34

Oh my gosh! Someone read my blog! DazzaDog, if you're feeling dizzy or disoriented, I apologize :)

As for the Neewer, it really is a decent unit for the price, I agree.

Since it bumps out so much light on two "AA" batteries, it occurred to me that it would work like a modelling light, and it does work at close range. I'll try it next on my 85mm prime lens, arguably the best for portrait work.

The only downside there is that it does leave reflections in the subject's eyes which are not as pleasant as catch lights, but rather, are more of a reflection of the 360 degrees of small LEDs. I was going to try and rig it with some sort of diffuser, perhaps a ring of waxed paper that I can easily tape onto the body when I want a more diffused light.

Definitely can't go wrong at $40.00 though. Mine was bought on Amazon, with quick shipping under $10.00.

Best again, and thanks for reading,

Chris

Reply
27/02/2012 23:40

Hi
Interesting - I've been thinkging about a ring flash, I might give this one a try.
Thanks
Clive

Reply
Paul
21/04/2012 21:57

Thanks for that - think I'll pick one of these up and annoy my wife too.

Enjoyed that post, I'll be sure to check back on this blog in the future.

Reply
05/12/2012 20:30

Thanks Paul, as I've always said, dialogue, not monologue, is the lifeblood of a blog. Please feel free to weigh in anytime.

Best,

Chris

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30/04/2012 19:06

After reading your blog and browsing through your photos. I jave two questions for you.. First, do you have to use a Macro lens when using a ring flash or is this a personal preference? Second, does it have to be Starbucks? Thanks for sharing!

Reply
Chris Kiez
05/12/2012 20:31

Nope! If you're in the Ottawa-Hull area of Ontario/Quebec, Canada, I'll be happy to treat you to coffee at Equator Coffee, Bridgehead, Second Cup or if you're in the Almonte/Carleton Place area, Palms Coffee or Read's Bookstore.

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06/05/2012 15:06

Thanks for the review. I am debating the great divide between the Canon ring-light ($500) and now this one you have so generously reviewed. (like $30). This was posted back in February, are you still as impressed with this unit?

Since I'm here, I have to tell you that I have added your web page to my Inspirational List and read many of your other blog posts. While I know that my endorsement lacks great validity, I was quite impressed with both and will be a loyal follower from here out. Thank you.

Reply
Chris Kiez
05/12/2012 20:39

Sorry I'm so late in replying! I feel like an ass. We had a very challenging year, as my brother passed away from a 2 year battle with brain cancer. In any event, I hadn't been checking past blog entries and had missed this one. Very much appreciated Dave, please ask questions and contribute all you like, keep the conversation going!

Reply
08/06/2012 06:19

I just ordered one today... I'm thinking of some sort of homemade diffuser to hide the individual lights... did you ever end up doing that?

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Melisa Brown
25/06/2012 20:18

How is the diffuser for the ring light coming along?

Reply
05/12/2012 20:42

I never did; its a bit tricky cutting gels to fit, so I found that using a filter on lens to get the effect I wanted was easier.

Reply
Chris Kiez
05/12/2012 21:11

I didn't, I found trying to cut gels to fit the exterior diameter of the light was too fiddly. I found it better to use lens filters to get the effect I wanted.

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Saskia
09/06/2012 11:32

Hi,

I was thinking of buying one of these but wasn't quiet sure what to expect as photography is my new hobby. But after reading your review I will definitly be buying one.

Thanks for making the decision easier

Kind regards

Reply
Chris Kiez
05/12/2012 21:12

Thanks Saskia, please let us all know how you're finding the Newer.

Reply
MistyAnn
19/07/2012 03:23

I've been looking at this on Amazon for quite a while and finally decided to google for reviews; (you did make the first page!) I thank you for doing so. I am pretty sure I will be purchasing one shortly :)

M

Reply
brock
03/08/2012 04:17

I greatly thank you for this review! I've been pouring through so many that never really answered my questions and you managed to nail all of them right square on the head! Thank you again and keep up the good work!

Reply
Chris Kiez
05/12/2012 21:13

Thanks Brock and MistyAnn. Please feel free to let everyone here know how you find the ring flash to work for you.

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06/08/2012 03:30

Thanks for the review and I just ordered mine today. Looking forward to it. No need for coffee either, I found the review entertaining.

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19/08/2012 13:19

Chris,
thank you for the review. SInce this unit is battery/ or mains operated, and works constant, not as a flash, why do you connect to the hot shoe?
I have a H4D and wonder if I can connect it to the hot shoe without damage, or is the unit limited to Canon/ Nikon cameras?
Thanks for your response.
Regards,
Werner

Reply
C
05/12/2012 21:18

Werner, again, I apologise for the lateness of my reply. In any event, mounting on the hot shoe gives the battery pack somewhere convenient to be while your lens wears the flash. There's no communication between the light and the camera. Any camera with a hot shoe would work with this flash, since the hot shoe only serves to hold the battery pack. A coiled wire system then attaches to the light itself, which is slotted on the end of the lens. Its a simple, and ingenious, system.

Reply
Barb in Midlothian
01/09/2012 19:56

I stumbled across your blog as I was looking for better directions for this ring flash. The directions that came with it were awful! Thanks for posting. I found this helpful.
Barb

Reply
Chris Kiez
05/12/2012 21:21

Thanks Barb, and I hope you are getting good shots with it now? Its not just for macros; its would be ideal for low light portraits. Have ths subject turn their head away from you, then without turning their head, look at you so the eyes burn into the camera. In a dark room, with a candle beside the model, using this light you'll get a unique half-lit face effect. Use a wide aperture with a 40 mm lens or so, and defocus your background while using the lowest ISO you can, without having to use too slow a shutter speed.

Reply
Ian in the West
10/09/2012 01:48

I still cannot tell if this device is a flash or a lamp. :) A youtube video review of the FC-100 shows it as a flash but you imply it is a lamp (different devices with the same model number?). Thank you.

Reply
Chris Kiez
05/12/2012 21:29

Definitely a lamp! It doesn't flash as such, that is, it doesn't produce a pulsed bright light over a short period of time. As long as you have it "on", its producing light. You then meter your shot using your TTL (through the lens) metering. Typically, I shoot in Manual mode, set my aperture for the scene (portrait and close macro work generally does best with near wide open apertures, the smaller numbers), set my ISO as low as I can without having to then use too-slow of a shutter speed to avoid blurred images, and I personally always underexpose by several stops, according to my TTL meter.

Reply
27/11/2012 15:12

Bought the same thing - works great for the $$$$

Reply
Bob
29/11/2012 16:00

Thanks for the detailed review. I will be picking one of these up now for sure. Thanks again.

Bob

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sara
17/09/2013 08:58

Good review :). You seem like a reliable source so you'd better not be a vender of neewer! :D

Reply
Chris Kiez
17/09/2013 18:43

No, I'm not a vendor or a rep for Neewer. My only relationship to the company is that I own their ring flash. I bought mine on Amazon when I was looking for an inexpensive ring flash.

I use it mostly for macro work and occasionally when doing modeling shoots, for close up portraits with a 60 mm prime lens. I'm always amazed by how well it works, given the low price. Its not particularly fancy, but when compared to the $400 ring flashes I've looked at, I'm at a loss as to why I would spend $400 on a ring flash when this one does so well at the price. I've knocked it around, dropped it, used it in a variety of conditions , and it keeps on trucking. Go figure.

And I'm the sort of photographer who will spend money on getting the best-performing product in the category, which means I have Really Right Stuff tripod/monopod and heads, F-Stop Gear camera knapsack, etc. And yet when it came to ring flashes, this one is so functional, I can't justify spending hundred more when this one does so well. I don't need all manner of daylight/tungsten blended light in my ring flash, so this Neewer is just fine.

Reply

I visited plenty of internet site but I conceive this one holds something extra in it in it

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18/05/2014 13:42

Hey thanks! I like to think my website holds something extra; too bad it couldn't be an espresso machine; we could talk cameras over a nice latte!

Reply
Stinky
13/08/2014 18:46

Are you still giving out free coffee?

Reply
chris Kiez
14/08/2014 06:43

Only on specified occasions! I already gave away free coffee to a local photographer on this particular topic (which has garnered more responses than any other subject posted before or since). I also recently mailed a Starbucks card to a nice lady who was first to reply to my "If anyone Reads This I'll Buy Them Coffee" post earlier this month. Its my way of rewarding followers and also providing a stimilant to counteract the sedative effect of my writing.

Reply
Stinky
15/08/2014 21:08

I just ordered a macro ring led light based on this page.

Chris Kiez
15/08/2014 21:13

You'll like it. I've had mine since 2012 and have no complaints.

I'm also constantly amazed that despite my various photo blogs of the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, birds in flight, herons eating fish, and all sorts of showcase photography from landscapes to modelling, this, the review of an inexpensive ring flash light, has received about 3000% more comments than any of my other posts......

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15/08/2014 21:13

You'll like it. I've had mine since 2012 and have no complaints.

I'm also constantly amazed that despite my various photo blogs of the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, birds in flight, herons eating fish, and all sorts of showcase photography from landscapes to modelling, this, the review of an inexpensive ring flash light, has received about 3000% more comments than any of my other posts......

Reply



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    Author

    Chris Kiez, a hardcore photographer since the 80's, learned to take a picture before the age of selfies and cell phone photography, training on mechanical cameras and film. After years of taking photos of all manner of subjects and people, he did over a 10 year stint as a crime scene photographer on two continents. Now, he does portrait and landscape photos, and is currently distressing the world with his relentlessly, excruciatingly boring blogging.


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