What Is a Ring Light
A ring light is essentially a light in the form of a circle. It can flash or be continuous and is most commonly made up of rows of LED lights that form one large ring.
The sizes can vary. Small ones can fit around your lens. Large ones may need their own weighted stand.
You’ll most often see ring lights be used in studio settings. The smaller ones can easily be used outdoors and on location!
Why Use a Ring Light?
The most common use for ring lights is in portrait photography. The most appealing benefit to using a ring light is that it instantly helps to eliminate harsh shadows.
For portraits, being able to provide even lighting that falls softly on the face is crucial. The circle of light provided by a ring light does just that by widening the source of light. Suddenly there’s light hitting the face from slightly below, directly in front, and slightly above.
Another fun effect of using a ring light is the circular reflection in your subject’s eyes. This is typically the tell-tale sign of a ring light in use. It also provides a fun sparkle of light in your subject’s eyes.
Another common use for a ring light is with macro photography. Once again, the main benefit of eliminating shadows is what makes a ring light the perfect fit for macro photos.
You’ll have a light that wraps your lens. This means you no longer have to worry about creating any distracting shadows as you inch your way closer to the subject!
For macro photography, a small portable ring light is perfect.
With their even and soft light, ring lights are also a fun option for food photography. This will depend on your setup. But a ring flash is most beneficial for food photography when it’s used off-camera lighting your subject from a side. This means you’ll want to have one on a stand or handheld.
Things to Look for in a Ring Light
Let’s look at factors to consider when comparing models. There are so many options on the market that it really will come down to your genre of photography, your budget. And how much you plan to use the ring light.
The main factors to consider are:
- Quality of build
- Accessories needed (stand, mount for camera, etc)
- Ability for different light settings
The main guiding factor will most likely be your budget. If you’re testing out ring lights or don’t plan on using them much, consider getting a model at a lower price point.
Be sure to consider what you can invest in without straining your finances.
Quality of Build
Generally directly connected to cost, the quality of build is another factor to consider. The lower priced models or those from smaller manufacturers will often lack in quality.
Sturdier ring lights will cost a bit more. But they will hold up to more wear and tear over time, making the higher investment worthwhile!
Consider your general habits with gear. Do you work in a studio? Your gear most likely doesn’t take too tough of a beating.
Do you work on location and often stuff your gear into a backpack or case? Sturdier gear will be a better investment for you to withstand all the handling.
Also related to costs. Consider if any other items are necessary for using that particular ring light.
Are replacement bulbs expensive or hard to find? Will you need a mount of some sort in addition to the light itself? How does it charge?
Being fully informed of all the parts needed will help you make a better decision.
Conditions will vary with nearly every photo you take, so being able to adjust the light is vital. Be sure to check that the light strength can be adjusted and that it has enough adjustments to offer you the flexibility you’ll need.
Also, this is a good reminder to check the light temperature and what sort of options there are for adjusting that.
Filters are available for some models to allow you to shift the color instantly!
Size and Portability
Directly affecting your use is the size and portability of the ring light.
Do you shoot macro? You’ll want a small ring light that wraps around your lens.
Do you do studio work for portraiture or detailed food setups? You may want to consider a larger ring light that goes on a weighted stand.
Take some time to consider your use before investing money on a purchase.
Ring light photography can provide sharp, cleanly lit photos for many types of photography.
Whether you start with a cheap ring light or decide to invest in a larger ring light with stand, your photography clients will thank you!