A while back we had a piece about the power of using LEDs in photography. In that article we had a very primitive LED ring light. In this guest post, Tim Brook shares a much better way to create a LED ring light.
Browsing through the dealextreme website, I came across these LED car headlight rings and thought that they’d be ideal for making a Macro Lighting Ring so I placed my order and had a go.
If you’re gonna try this at home (which you definitely should) note that the
parts I used were selected specifically for my camera and lens (Canon EOS450D + Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS), i.e. the inside diameter of the lighting ring needed to be greater than the 58mm diameter of the lens. If you’re having a go at this you may need to think ahead and do a bit of calculating, as the LED rings are available in several sizes.
- T10 21-LED White Light Car Angle Eye (70mm Diameter) dx/sku.25511 for $5.38
- T10 24-LED White Light Car Angel Eye (90mm Diameter) dx/sku.25521 for $5.39
- Lens Hood for Canon EF-S dx/sku.10918 for $4.10
Also required: PP3 battery connector and small pushbutton switch – purchased locally from an electronics project store Maplin (UK)
Now you have all the bits, check they work ok by attaching the battery, you don’t want to find a fault once you’ve glued it all together.
- Attach the lens hood to the lens body
- Cut a circle of card to fit inside lens hood and fit
snugly against the lens. We are doing this for two reasons; firstly to protect the
lens and secondly to give a small clearance between the lens and the inner
lighting ring when it is fitted. Obviously, you will see nothing through the lens while this circle is in position. Don’t worry. You will remove it later.
- Insert the small LED ring inside the lens hood and rest
on the piece of card so that it is centrally aligned, lay wires so that
they come out of the front of the lens hood in a position where you choose
the connection to the battery to be, I chose the bottom left hand corner
so that the battery pack could be held in my left hand for easy use.
- Fix the LED ring in position using a suitable adhesive,
I used clear silicone sealant for that semi-permanent fix!
- When the adhesive is set, remove the lens hood from the lens and push out the card. The assembly should now fit smoothly
off-and-on the lens without fouling.
- The larger LED ring can now be attached to the lens
hood, make sure that the wires from the inner ring lay underneath the
outer ring and both sets of wires exit in the same direction. Use adhesive
(silicone) to fix the outer ring in place on the top of the lens hood.
- Cut the wires to the desired length and solder the 2 red wires to the red (+ve) lead of the battery connector and the 2 black wires to the black (-ve) connector.
If required, wire the positive connection through a pushbutton switch, this can be mounted on the battery connector for convenience.
This is how the solder thing will look like after you’ve completed step (7).
This is what the ring light will look like
And this is what it looks like when mounted on the lens
Possible Variations & Improvements
This is as far as I went with the ring, however there are some variations and improvements that can be done to make it even better.
The light spread seems pretty good without diffusing but you may wish to add some sort of diffuser over the LEDs, perhaps something cut from the bottom of a drinks container or whatever you can get your hands on.
The PP3 battery gives just 9v and these LEDs are rated at 12v (for car use) extra brightness could be obtained by instead using 8 x AA batteries or any custom 12v battery.
The image on the right has the ring flash on. You can see the light reflection by looking closely on the rabbit left eye and seeking the reflection.