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
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).
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)
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.
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
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.