How Good is The Ring light for Portraits

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by dennis_mansour|1, Nov 5, 2011.

  1. I use a shoot thru umbrella and the quality is good. A fellow photographer said I should try the Ring light and it does make a big difference. Any comments on this?
  2. It makes a difference because it's a completely different type of light source. Most often, it's used while shooting through the ringlight, which means that your subject is going to have a very specific look, very specific shadows, etc. This sometimes used in highly stylized situations like fashion, but it can get tiresome if you see it too often. It's rarely going to be flattering for most portraits.

    If you Google for ringflash examples, you'll find lots to look at, and you'll see that (most likely) you'll be better off with a different type of light modifier (perhaps a large gridded softbox, etc) than you will be with this very specific soft of light.

    In short, if you don't already know why you need a ringlight, you very likely do not need a ringlight.
  3. It's neither good nor bad. Ring lights have their own specific look, and it may or not work for your purposes. Here is what it looks like:
    Here's an older thread from PN on the subject with some good tips.
    michaelmowery likes this.
  4. A ringlight eliminates shadows or gives a dark halo effect around outlines, but any type of light coming directly from the camera position has a harsh effect that increases with the subject's distance from the camera. So a much larger issue, IMHO, is that light coaxial with, or close to the camera lens results in extreme "shine" reflected straight back from the high points of the face. Cheek bones, foreheads, chins and noses tend to look extremely sweaty and usually require a ton more makeup than other lighting. This emphasis of bone structure also means that models with less-than-ideal facial features can tend to look downright ugly.
    In other words it's not the type of light I'd recommend if you're trying to flatter your ordinary Joe or Jill. Not unless you want to make them look like they've just done 12 hours hard labour in baking sunlight!
  5. A ring light can be a very useful tool for fill.It allows you to use a key-light well off axis and still open the shadows without the lousy 'second source' effect that you would otherwise get from a reflector fill.The trick is to use the ring light at least four stops under the key-light keeping in mind that white stuff in the foreground burns out. [​IMG]
    michaelmowery likes this.
  6. I'm just a viewer and don't like the unnatural effect of what ring lights do to eyes. Maybe it works for highly stylized photos in fashion. But not for normal portraits.
  7. They are superb for some kinds of macro photography. One of the early applications were dental photographs.
    The 'catchlight' is likely annular (little circles)- not all that good in portrait work.
    and so forth.

    If you want to try it on the cheap, there are good prices on the Meike LED Macro Ring Flash FC100 (e.g. meike led macro ring flash fc100 - Google Search).

    I have one for fun and it works just fine, especially with modern digital cameras where the absolute intensity of the light is not such an issue.
  8. Since this old thread has been resurrected:
    I see a post praising the effect of a ringlight has been added, but if you follow the link, it's no ordinary small ringlight such as you screw to the filter-thread of a lens.

    The thing appears to be about 3 foot diameter. So its light isn't coming from close to the lens, and thereby doesn't give such specular reflections as a smaller version.

    Even so, the models in the example 'portraits' look as if they're wearing thick matt pancake makeup, such as is only seen in a fashion shoot or at a makeover session. Stick a normal person off the street in front of the light and who knows how acceptable the results would be?

    Notice the endorsement (supposedly) comes from "a professional make-up artist and beauty influencer".

    A shill for the ring light company? I suspect so, since the poster appears to have joined specifically to post this one reply.

    And that LED light is much brighter than what? A ring of candles?

    Moderator Note:
    The post to which you refer has been deleted, so has the user who posted it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2018

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