Incense

by Bart Arondson

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When I last checked years ago, the price of a typical Ring flash unit was approximately $500. Nowadays there are still ring flashes for approx. $500 like Pentax AF160FC, Pentax AF-140C, Canon MR-14EX, Sigma EM-140 DG ...

On the other hand, there are "noname" LED ring flashes for approx. $50. The price is very tempting maybe a bit too cheap. What's the main difference? Are they really that bad?

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The Metz mecablitz 15 MS-1 is less expensive at about US$400 (under $350 from B&H) and will function with any camera (or attached flash unit) from any of the major systems with wireless flash control. –  DragonLord Oct 24 '11 at 13:39

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Not having owned a cheap-o ring flash, I can only guess what the tradeoffs might be:

  • Cheaper build quality
  • Inconsistent Light Output
  • No "Bang-bang-bang" shooting
  • Little/no camera interfacing (ie no support for Canon's E-TTL)
  • Weaker light output

Now, for $50, if you can swing it, it seems like it might be worth it to first try using a ring-flash and get the hang of it, before moving onto a more expensive solution.

You may also want to look at Strobist. He/They periodically do comparisons on so called "ebay-gear" and give honest, objective feedback taking into consideration price/performance capabilities.

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Every ring flash attachment unit which can be mounted onto a "Bang-bang-bang" flash unit (e.g., on Canon 580 EX II) can do "Bang-bang-bang" shooting. :) The question only in it's quality. –  igorp1024 Sep 3 '10 at 10:03
    
From the OP's question it didn't sound like it was an add-on to an existing strobe, but instead a dedicated LED flash unit. –  Alan Sep 3 '10 at 17:00

I've just bought a Ray Flash adapter, and it looks like it might easily work for macro as well. All the TTL abilities of your regular flash still work, which is nice.

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Can you comment on this now that you have had it a while? Maybe by updating your answer? –  dpollitt Dec 5 '11 at 3:35
    
@dpollitt: To be honest, I've tried it once and never got it out after that, because it felt way too clumsy. I was afraid putting the camera down might break the hotshoe. I might push myself to try it again and I will update myself then :-) –  che Dec 11 '11 at 20:15

All the things Alan said, plus the more expensive ring flashes give you more control over the lighting ratio - generally the left and right sides are separate bulbs and you can set one to fire brighter than the other. Additionally, they can act as master flash units, whereby you can set up other flash units to synchronise wirelessly with the main camera-attached flash.

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