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Thread: Ring Flash

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    Lightbulb Ring Flash

    Hey,
    Does anyone have any experience with the offical Olympus Ring Flash set (FS-SRF11 & FS-FC1)?

    Or with a cheaper alternative?

    I hear it is useful for macro work, but if I purchased the expensive kit I'd be keen to use it as my portrait flash too. Any thoughts on doing that?

    The portrait photos I've seen on the net look pretty good, nice even lighting (without needing a diffuser). I wondered if the effective Guide Number might be similar to that of, say the FL-36 with diffuser...?

    Thanks
    Buggslife Photography
    Gear: E-3, E-410, 12-60 SWD, 9-18mm,
    70-300mm, 50mm f/2.0 Close-up lens (500D)

    Nearly always handheld - often 'BeanPod' for macro.
    Velbon Travel Tripod - mostly for landscape.

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    Default Re: Ring Flash

    I don't think a ring flash would be desirable for portrait work. The main feature with a ring flash is that you get essentially no shadows. But that effect is only happening when the width of the flash is on the same magnitude as the distance between flash and subject. Which means macro work. For larger distances, the ring flash would not yield very different results than the camera's pop-up flash. And besides, when you shoot portraits, you usually don't want a totally even, in your face, light.
    Jörgen

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    Default Re: Ring Flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuttaton View Post
    I don't think a ring flash would be desirable for portrait work. The main feature with a ring flash is that you get essentially no shadows. But that effect is only happening when the width of the flash is on the same magnitude as the distance between flash and subject. Which means macro work. For larger distances, the ring flash would not yield very different results than the camera's pop-up flash. And besides, when you shoot portraits, you usually don't want a totally even, in your face, light.
    Jöergen,

    I agree with you, a ring flash is primarily designed for photos which require a flat illumination with no shadows. However, I would like to mention one option which I find useful in macro or close-up work: if the camera is on a tripod, I do not attach the ring to the lens (as intended by the designer), but I hold it at an angle with respect to the subject. In this way, you get shadows, but with a soft light thanks to the large diameter of the light-ring (compared to the harsher narrow light beam you would get from a conventional unit such as the FL-36 in a similar setup).

    I agree that for portrait work at the usual distance, there should not be much difference in terms of light softness between a ring flash and a regular flash; in addition, the smaller guide number of a ring flash (11 for the Olympus one, in meters) may require higher ISO settings, and the light covers a very wide angle whatever the lens used. . .

    Cheers!
    Jimcb
    Photos on www.pbase.com/jimcb

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    Default Re: Ring Flash

    Another issue with using a ring light for portrait work (besides redeye) is that if you don't get redeye, you still have to retouch all of the circular catchlights you're going to get in the eyes.

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    Default Re: Ring Flash

    Thanks for the advice. It sounds like the Ring Flash is very much for Macro and a particular flatly lit portrait...certainly not general portraiture.

    Reading around, it seems that studio photographers use a very large and powerful version of ring flash for fashion/beauty.

    I now need to make a decision about how much I want to get into the macro side...

    Any good macro ring-flash / lighting tips? Websites?

    Thanks.
    Buggslife Photography
    Gear: E-3, E-410, 12-60 SWD, 9-18mm,
    70-300mm, 50mm f/2.0 Close-up lens (500D)

    Nearly always handheld - often 'BeanPod' for macro.
    Velbon Travel Tripod - mostly for landscape.

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    Cool Re: Ring Flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric A. View Post
    Another issue with using a ring light for portrait work (besides redeye) is that if you don't get redeye, you still have to retouch all of the circular catchlights you're going to get in the eyes.
    Some people want circular catch lights, and it goes in and out of fashion with high end photographers. However, for portrait work, most people that use ring flashes use studio strobe ring flashes that are much more powerful:
    http://www.alienbees.com/abr800.html

    I have the Promaster digital macrolume ringflash. I got it at a special at my photostore at about 1/2 price of the SRF-11. Unlike the SRF-11, which has 4 lights, the Promaster has two lights on either side (you can control the volume of each light and/or turn one one/off). I use it occasionally for close-up work, typically with the 50mm lens. One thing that I didn't realize when buying the flash is it has no FP-TTL support (neither does the SRF-11), which means it is very hard to use for fill light in bright light (for example, to capture flowers in my mother-in-law's garden).

    Before getting the digital version of the ringflash, I got the non-digital version. I found it hard to use, because you have to do several shots, looking at the histogram to get the exposure correct. Here is a review of that flash that I wrote:
    http://forum.fourthirdsphoto.com/showthread.php?t=35644

    One of the things people complain about over the years with the SRF-11, is you can only use it without modification on 4 lenses, 2 of which are now longer in production:

    • 14-54mm (original model, not the new version that was just released);
    • 50-200mm (original model, not the SWD version);
    • 50mm macro (with the $100 FR-1 adapter);
    • 35mm macro (witht he $100 FR-1 adapter).

    I'm not sure the 35mm is compatible with the SRF-11, and even if it is, with the lens having such a short focal length, it may be impractical to use the SRF-11 with the 35mm lens.

    I've seen posts that say to use other lenses, such as the Sigma macro lenses or the new SWD lenses, you need to pick up the hood ring EZ 14-54mm that Olympus cleverly hides in the E-1 parts list:
    https://emporium.olympus.com/innards...919&submit1=Go

    I would be wary of using the ring flash (or twin flash) on any lens not designed for it, since the flash is mounted on the lens. It might be the lens was not designed for the weight of the ring flash, and it might cause damage to the lens focusing motors. Since Olympus did design the original 14-54mm, 50mm, and 50-200mm with the ring flash, I don't think it is an issue with those lenses.

    Now, in terms of the ring vs. the twin flash, the twin flash gives you more options of where to place the lights. It also depends on what you want to photograph. Often times ring flashes are better for 2D objects, while flashes that provide more directionality are better for 3D objects, since the shadows will indicate depth.

    If I hadn't already purchased the Promaster ring flash, I would go instead for the Ray flash, which fits over a FL-50/FL-50R and provides ring illumination (it hadn't been announced when I went for the Promaster). This way, you don't have to carry 2 flash units in your bag, and you can pop off the Ray flash to have a normal flash.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ing_Flash.html


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    Default Re: Ring Flash

    Hey Michael that Ray Flash ring is just the ticket, thanks!


    alistairj.smugmug.com


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    Default Re: Ring Flash

    I don't have the Olympus ring flash, so I don't know how helpful this will be. I use both the Alien Bees ABR800 and the Zeus ZRM1 ring flashes.

    I will start by saying I have always disliked the ring flash shots where a model is standing only a foot, or so, from a wall, and you see a large shadow that is equally spaced around them. I hesitated a long time in buying a ring flash because of this.

    I did find the ring flashes I use produce darker (shadow like) edges of skin on a model that gives them an almost 3D look.

    It is true that a ring flash produces a flat, shadowless, lighting that works well for Fashion, children, and some model shots.

    Alien Bees produces a light modifier they call Moon Units. The have both a 30" and a 56" Moon unit. I use the ring flash with the 30" moon unit for a lot of my on-location model photo shoots. I have use the ring flash with the 56" moon unit for shooting grade school class photos.

    I find the ring flash is probably the most versatile of all my studio lights. I use my ring flashes on a light stand with one of the moon units as either a main or fill light in the studio.

    Because the Zeus ring flash is so powerful, I have set up a unique method of shooting quilts where I hang the quilt on my background stand. I place the Zeus ring flash 30' from the quilt, and at about a 30 degree angle. I shoot the quilt straight on. With this setup, the lighting produces shadows of even the stitching on the quilt, giving the quilts a 3D look. Because of this setup, I have become the local quilting photographer. My quilt photos appear on quilt pattern packages in stores all around the country.

    I could go on and on about ring flashes, but you get the idea.

    Did I mention I like ring flashes.

    Lawrence

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    Default Re: Ring Flash

    Here's another idea for a twin flash set up...

    pick up one of these inexpensive brackets :http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search

    Get a Cactus radio remote system, not expensive, find 'em on ebay

    and use whatever flash units you want with it.

    Another similar option is to get a couple of gorilla pods instead of the bracket. That's not as portable, but could work well for set-up macros.
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    Default Re: Ring Flash

    I've owned the twin head STF-22 flash for a couple of years now. As a macro flash, it works extremely well. For very close work, you can vary the power on the heads so that just a bit of shadow is cast, great for bringing out detail.

    The 50 Macro adapter is a bit expensive, but it takes the weight of the flash heads off of the moving objective as it attaches to the 50 Macro's body.

    As a portrait flash, it's not very good. I have used it in a pinch by pointing one head at the ceiling and one at the subject, cutting the power on the one pointed at the subject. But it just isn't powerful enough to bounce well. I think it's a GN of around 22, and that's both heads.
    E3, E1, E330, EP1, EM5
    ZD: 7-14, 8FE, PL25 1.4, 14-54, 35-100, 50-200, 70-300 50 Macro, EX-25
    MZD: 12-50, 45 1.8, 14-150
    Nikkor: 105 1.8, 400 3.5, TC301 teleconverter
    FL-50, STF-22

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