My girlfriend's birthday is coming up. I know nothing about cameras, but I'd like to surprise her with what I believe is called a "ringlight" for her camera. It is definitively a Canon camera. Are there standard sizes for that brand? I don't have the camera itself, it's at her house, but could take a picture or two of some battery attachments and accessories for it. She is a very serious photographer and I would like a proper, professional ringlight as well.

I'm looking for advice on the best ringlights and hoping it's a "One Size Fits All" kind of deal, but if not I'm looking for someone to identify the camera itself as well.

Thank You, Confused But Well Meaning

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking for a ring light, which is continuous on, that people often use when recording themselves for vlogs, or a ring flash, which fires quickly just like a regular flash, for taking certain types of portraits and/or closeup macro photography of small subjects? \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Jul 10, 2019 at 15:32
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ Even as an amateur I'm very particular about what photographic equipment I'd buy for myself, and no matter how well meaning my significant other was I wouldn't trust her to make such a purchase for me without my knowledge (and she knows it :D ). Personally I think you are better off surprising her with a card that says you will buy her anything she wants up to $$ amount, and then let her choose the specific item. That doesn't mean that you can't be a part of the selection process though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peter M
    Jul 10, 2019 at 19:10

4 Answers 4


Take a sharp picture of the front of the lens with the lens cap off. It should show a thread size marking ("58mm" or some other number between 43 and 77). That's separate from the focal length description (a range for zoom objectives) that's usually followed by a slash and other numbers. Then on the top of the camera (to get a view of the flash/accessory shoe or connector available). And of course, if you have a model number somewhere, take a picture of that.

You write that she is "a very serious photographer". The problem with that is that a) she'll likely be using different lenses for the kind of photography where you really want a ring light b) she'll have pretty precise needs.

Ringlights are mostly good for product photography. When used continuously, they are not well-suited for photographing "bugs" (arthropods, usually insects and spiders) since those are sensitive to light and scurry away, so you really want something to connect with the flash mechanism. There are light guides (no active ingredients) and slave flashes to combine with built-in flashes when there is no useful flash shoe: their price point does not make them suitable for a casual gift.

In general "she is a very serious $whatever" and getting a $whatever-related equipment gift without consulting her is a recipe for relationship trouble because of her not finding the right approach for not hurting your feelings when your well-meant present does not fit within the well-carved-out needs she would use it for.

Any chance to contact any of her photographer buddies, people she works with? They could probably give more specific hints or warnings.


How can I choose a ring light for my girlfriend's camera as a surprise gift?

You can't.

Without knowing exactly how she would want to use one and with exactly what equipment she would be using it, neither can we.

Photographic gear selection is an intensely personal choice that is affected by intended usage, compatibility with other equipment such as camera and lens, and personal artistic choices. Assuming they are fairly experienced and knowledgeable, the photographer who will be using an item is usually the best person to select which item will work best for them.

Instead, give her a gift card to B & H and let her pick out what she wants to spend it on.


I think this is one really cute question, so I want to help you a bit.

When you say she is a serious photographer, we need to define what that is. I will help you with some of the applications of ring light or ring flash.

1. Macro

The original intention of a ring flash was to take pictures of small objects, where you needed to get really close to it, therefore with another type of illumination, the lens itself would produce strong shadows.

Some applications were close-ups of let's say insects, flowers, coins, medical (like dental) forensics, etc.

So if she likes doing close-ups we can discard some methods of achieving a ring light.

2. Urban look

I do not remember when I first saw the application of a ring light flash for portraits; But as far as I can recall, the ring flash gives you what I call "Urban look". This is, a strong emphasis on the person being shot, with little care on the background.

It produces some interesting shadow halo if there is a wall behind the subject or simply gives a strong light to the main subject.

This is because the light will decay with a direct relationship with the object's distance from the lens. This does not occur with other light sources.

3. Catchlight and portrait

The previous point is more specific when you want to emphasize the catchlight, and some persons will use dark glasses, or have a very close up to see the catchlights on the eyes.

So. If you choose door number 1, you probably want a ring flash where the light device attaches to the lens and the power source is attached to the hot shoe of the camera connecting the light with a cord.

As the flash is attached to the lens you need the lens thread diameter, probably 52 or 58 mm. But most of them will have ring adapters for different diameters.

And it is also important to know the brand of the camera (canon in this case) because each brand has different pins to connect a flash if using a TTL mode. But there are also manual mode flashes.

The power is not so great because you are putting the light very close to your subject. They are small and does not "intimidate" your subject.

A. A LED-based lens will be a good option.

enter image description here

Behind door number 2, there are some options.

B. There are some odd-looking softboxes where all the box is held by the lens, and you put a normal speed light inside it. These are camera independent because you can use any lens or any camera brand. The softbox will not fire a flash, it will only defuse the light of a currently owned flash.

The main goal is not the catchlight that can be nonuniform, but the diffuse light. They do not work for macro because they are bulky and blocks the view to the subject.

enter image description here

C. There are some other more powerful dedicated ring flashes, where you actually have a humungous flash tube. So the light power is heck a log greater than option A and B. If you are using it too close to the person you can hurt the eyes.

D. Behind door number 3 you could use a ring light independent of the camera. This is continuous light, and you simply sneak pick behind it and shoot.

They are also LED-based, but they are wider in diameter so the catchlight is more notorious. Not so powerful that can be next to the person and gives time to the pupils to close.

enter image description here

So... Choose a door to narrow your search.

P.S. Either of those can be for a serious photographer, but the options are a bit specific to the objective.

In the case of the softboxes, there are different brands. A more serious one can be for example that it has solid construction and produces a really cylindrical shape, where an amateur one can be a cheap copy that feels wobbly for example.

Play a game and identify the types of ring lights:


But, I agree with some of the comments. This kind of specific gadgets... probably it is better to go with her to a shop. But you now have a better idea I hope.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "This is because the light will decay with a direct relationship with the object's distance from the lens. This does not occur with other light sources." Say what? This occurs with all light sources that are the same distance from the subject as the camera (i.e any shoe mounted flash or flash bracket mounted flash, etc.). It's referred to as the inverse square rule. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jul 21, 2019 at 5:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ With other. I am not saying "any other". \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Jul 22, 2019 at 16:37

In photography, there are two kinds of lights: flash and continuous. Flashes are those that fire at time of clicking the shutter button. Continuous are like lights in your home: they are always on when in use. In the first instance, the camera directly controls the light, in the last, the camera (usually) doesn't. Flash is used in portrait photography, whereas continuous is used sometimes in portraits but also in video.

However, I suspect that your interest in the ring light is due to its popularity in social media among other uses, where it provides very interesting light, as well as a distinctive reflection of the light ring in the subject's pupil. In this case, most of these lights are continuous, and very large, relative to flash devices.

Most flash ring lights are designed for macro photography ie. close up of tiny objects, and do not really provide the 'ring light' effect in subject pupils. These often fit directly on the lens itself (thus the question in this thread about filter size).

Therefore, I suspect that you should look for reviews of continuous ring lights, especially large format lights. Rather than provide any particular models, I suggest you Google for continuous ring light reviews, and evaluate your budget and the photographer's needs. These range from thousands to $100, or lower, if you want a cheap one. You get what you pay for with these things, in terms of consistency of light, power, control, color, etc. Pay more for more control, power and quality.


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