Lomography Ringflash Review

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WTF is a Ringflash?

Ringflashes are most commonly used by Macro(close up) and Fashion/Portrait photographers. For Macro shots, they provide even lighting, as normal flashes can often be obscured by the lens when taking photos at such close range. They are used in fashion photography because they provide a flat but almost iridescent lighting quality with a ‘halo’ effect around the subject, with no unflattering shadows.

Last year the Lomographic Society International (an organisation that is capitalising on the lomography fad by selling overpriced toy cameras to hipsters) released their Lomo Ringflash. Unlike true ringflashes, which have a circular light that goes all the way around the lens, the Lomo version has four normal flashes situated around the ring. This isn’t that surprising though, as good ringflashes cost upwards of $600 and the Lomo version costs between AU$55 and $120 depending on where you buy it from (another indication of how overpriced this stuff is).

What’s in the box:

  • Ringflash Unit
  • Adapters for Lomo LC-A, Lomo LC-A+, Lomo Fisheye, Lomo Fisheye2, Holga & Diana
  • Hot shoe adapter
  • Four diffuser rings, Red, Yellow, Blue and Milky White
  • A selection of cellophane tabs to stick over each individual flash, all different colours
  • A pointless book that probably cost more than the flash to make

Getting Started

Attaching the ringflash couldn’t be easier. The adapter clips right onto your camera and the flash clips right onto the adapter. The flash can be used either with the hotshoe adapter or fire automatically if you camera doesn’t have a hot shoe. There’s also a button to fire it manually for those with super fast reflxes or long exposures in mind.

There was an SLR mount promised that has never materialised, but you can quite easily just hold it around your SLR lens (as long as your lens fits inside it).

Complications

Everything sounds like great fun right? Well not so fast there tonto, there are a few downsides to strapping this bad boy onto your camera. I’m sure not all cameras have these problems, but there are some pretty annoying quirks when you use this with a Holga.

For starters, once attached, the ringflash blocks access to half of the holga’s controls. Because the adapter and flash wraps around the front and bottom of the camera you can’t change focus, switch to B Mode (long exposure) or use a tripod. Even taking the lens cap on and off is a trial. I understand why these sacrifices had to be made but it doesn’t make it any less annoying. You can fumble around removing and re-attaching the mount and flash but doing so every time you want to change focus is a chore.

However, as you can see in the resulting pics, the ringflash works best (ie: only works) at extremely close range, so you’re probably better off just setting your holga to ‘One person’ and leaving it there.

Another minor quibble is that the cellophane tabs just slide into place with nothing to hold them there, so the one on the bottom falls out as soon as you hold the camera up [you can see in the pic at the top that I had to tape them in place to get them to stay on].

Holga Shots with 4 Coloured Tabs (red, yellow, blue, green)

Double Exposure
In this shot you can see the multi-coloured shadow effect, as well as the reflection of the four flashes in the glasses. The pic isn’t exactly awash with different colours like you would expect though.

Charlie & Bashar
Here you can see some slight colour wash from the warm colours at the top to the cool colours at the bottom.

Using a different coloured tab on each flash with the Holga was slightly disapointing, you need to be REALLY close for the different colours to show.

With the Milky White Ring on Canon 400D

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Note the halo shadow and reflection on the glasses in this wanky photo [no one else was home at the time, give me a break].

Conclusion

If you already have a Lomo with a colour splash flash, this probably isn’t worth it, but if you want to use it with a Fisheye, or with an SLR this is probably worth a look.

If you just want to play around with coloured flash, you’re probably better off buying a Holga 120CFN.

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20 Responses to Lomography Ringflash Review

  1. Helen says:

    Great article. Is it safe to use the ringflash on the 400d? Is it hard to make it fit, and is there any chance of it frying the circuitry? Thanks.

  2. Aaron says:

    I have heard rumors that there’s an [extremely slim chance] that it could damage a DSLR, but I think it’s just scaremongering.

    As for fit, it depends on what lens you’re using. You have to hold it in place when using it so it’s not ideal for serious work but fun for fooling around.

  3. Naudia says:

    Hey so I just bought this and was hoping it would work with my 400D. How did you manage to get it to shoot when you take a picture?

  4. Aaron says:

    Use the hotshoe attachment.

    It’s a little black piece of plastic with a chord that slides onto the top of your dslr and plugs into the ringlfash.

  5. Naudia says:

    Well, yeah… But I mean it won’t flash even when attached and turned on and everything. I’ve got my camera set to 2nd-curtain sync, but I don’t know what else to do with it to make it flash when I take a picture.

  6. Aaron says:

    Really? Maybe your hotshoe attachment is broken. All I had to do to get mine working was plug it in.

  7. Fyl says:

    Hey Naudia,

    Seems like I got the same problem with my 400d. Have you figured out the problem yet? My flash fires when I first connect the hotshoe, but it won’t fire subsequently.

    However, the flash works fine with my LCA. Any help?

  8. nebulis says:

    I’m having the same problem with my Canon dSLR as FyL and Naudia.
    Any suggestions or fixes would be appreciated.
    I’m going to search for an answer, even if I have to contact the Lomo Society directly.

  9. puhpaper says:

    sounds like this flash isn’t for canon users.

    NIKON FANBOY IN THE HOUSE.

  10. JMcQ says:

    I have a Canon 10D with the 100mm 2.8 macro lens. This flashring works great. I’m using it with the diffusion ring on and I’m taking very close macro shots with nice, even exposure. I always connect the flash to the camera with everything powered off and then turn the camera and flash on. After I’m done, I discharge the flash before disconnecting it. I hope this will eliminate the chance of hurting the camera’s electronics.

    I hacked one the camera adapters to friction fit onto the 58mm UV filter so the ring flash is held fairly secure. I had to remove the battery cover as it rubbed against the lens focus ring and used electrical tape to hold the batteries in. You have to use the camera in manual mode and adjust the aperture for exposure but for $56, I’m estatic.

  11. wrek says:

    I have the same problem as Fyl Naduia and Nebulis. I can’t get the flash to work with my rebel xt, my 40d, 10d and eos3. What gives? I also read this thing has a slave mode, but haven’t been able to get it to fire that way either. I read on a flickr forum that other canon users such as JMcQ are able to get it to work. Is there a different production version I should be looking out for?

  12. CyberOptyc says:

    This could all come down to the electricity. It’s possible that it wants more or less of a trigger (usually around 6 volts???) it is also possible that either the SLR or the ring flash is set up to protect itself from more power than it wants. This could affect the operation. I believe it mentions a manual firing button (not that it would be a real solution) and a slave function. You might play around with those.

    I’m sure you also know it takes 2 AA batteries. Happy Shooting!

  13. I spent an hour last night building an adapter to mount my lomo ring flash on my Rebel xti just to run into the same problem as Fyl and Nebulius. Total bummer. I think it’s safe to say that it doesn’t work on a Rebel xti without some sort of adaptor. If anyone figures this business out, please let know…

  14. Matthew says:

    All,
    I used the adapters that came with my Diana Flash camera and got this thing to work on my 5D and G10. I think the little cord it comes with has trouble communicating with the camera. Maybe the little dot doesn’t line up properly? I dunno.

    Check out heymatthew.blogspot.com if you want to see some images. Let me know if you figure something else out.

    Now for my question: I noticed not all four flashes fire on mine all the time. Anyone else having this trouble? Is it just a quirk of the Ringflash to not fire consistently? Seems like something the Lomo folks would do…

    Best,
    Matthew

  15. bl0emetjE says:

    Hello!

    Ive just bought a ringflash and I want to connect it to my canon 400d, but it wont work with the hotshoe?!?!
    Only when I disconnect the flash from my camera, I can flash it by hand. By camera, it just wont work..

    Can you tell me how you did it?!

    Thanks in advance,
    bl0emetjE

  16. Lou says:

    Hi!
    I have a diana that is quite a few years old, and it has no hot shoe adapter to plug a standard flash in.
    Do you think this would work somehow??

  17. Aaron says:

    If it has a built in flash to trigger the ringflash, then yes. Otherwise no.

  18. Stacey says:

    I just used a flash sensor. I use a sony alpha a250 who’s hot shoe doesn’t fit shit all. So i attached a flash sensor to the hot shoe cord and it works like a charm.

  19. Sarah says:

    I just plugged the lomography ringflash into my Holga 120N. It won’t sync with the shutter. When I fire the flash manually, it works, but when I depress the shutter, the flash doesn’t fire. It has batteries and is plugged into the hotshoe.

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