SB-910 Ring Flash

WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,155Member
edited December 2014 in Nikon Flashes
What do you guys think is the best way to produce a ring flash portrait effect with an SB-910?
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Comments

  • ThomasHortonThomasHorton Posts: 323Member
    edited December 2014
    There are commercial adapters that will modify your Sb-910 to simulate a ring flash. Youtube has some pretty clever DIY ring flash simulators.

    The two things you have to worry about are

    1. The loss of light. Those photon guys get more tired running around ring reflectors that make up most of the ring light adapters. So you are going to lose "GN".

    2. Consistancy of light. This is, in my opinion, the biggest problem with ring flash simulators. The loss of power can be compensated for, but trying to get the light from the flash to evenly illuminate across the reflector path can be problematic. Few things are going to annoy you than having hot and cold spots in your "ring", especially where you don't want them.

    I am of the curmudgeonly opinion that if you want a ring flash effect, you need a ring flash. And those can be expensive. Some of the DIY ideas I have seen that use multiple strobes to help keep the light consistant around the ring look nice, but that just adds to the expense and makes things more complex.

    But some of the commercial ring light simulators do a pretty good job. The question is, as always, is the pretty good job, good enough for your purposes?

    Good luck with this. And if you do decide to go with a commerical or a DIY simulator, please let us know about your experiences.
    Post edited by ThomasHorton on
    Gear: Camera obscura with an optical device which transmits and refracts light.
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    I been looking into them for the past week and contemplating making one. Either a ring light or ring flash. If I go with ring light I was thinking of using LED either flexible strips or single.

  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,155Member
    Maybe I need a ring flash. Someone recommended the Nikon R1 system, but I think that is more for Macro, not portraits.
  • ThomasHortonThomasHorton Posts: 323Member
    There is a difference between a ring flash and a close up flash. Each has advantages and disadvantages and can't be considered interchangable.

    And, of course, not every ring flash is good for every type of photography. Some ring flashes are focused for close up or macro shots and other's have their focus further away more suitable for protraits.
    Gear: Camera obscura with an optical device which transmits and refracts light.
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    edited December 2014
    I contacted BnH last week one of the guys recommended a very expensive setup ( i think it was Quantum brand) that would help capture the catch lights. +1 @ThomasHorton, if you make your own or buy a cheap one you may not get the best light desired unless you go big. One of their guys recommended a cheap polaroid brand but I doubt that would get you the desired effect that you are looking for the portraits.

    Here is one way to do one via DIY

    Paul C Buff makes a ring flash and I have no experience with it only the B800 flashes.
    And some accesories for that unit
    Post edited by Vipmediastar_JZ on
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    edited December 2014
    I been looking into them for the past week and contemplating making one. Either a ring light or ring flash. If I go with ring light I was thinking of using LED either flexible strips or single.

    Just because this is a common mistake with those things: A ringflash will NOT produce a ring-shaped catchlight in the eyes, it will always look like a dot. The only purpose of a ring flash is to get that specific light character, which is: paparazzi style, but with no shadows.

    As opposed to this, if you want a ring catchlight in the eyes of your subject, you will need a ring light. The problem is,
    1. you will need a fairly big one to actually see the effect at all: with a ~15" ring light, you can barely notice the effect
    2. hotlights are always a not-so-good idea, because basically, when it's already really bright for the model (you still want the eyes open, right), you can only get something like 9-10 EV for your camera, that's 1/160 second at f/4 and ISO 400, and 4 EVs below standard studio flash level.
    3. there are stupid limitations resulting from the tradeoff of light distance to model, camera distance to model, diameter of ring light. It's hard to explain when you haven't tried it, but the factors are: ring light getting in the image, ring light being too far away to provide enough light, or to produce a ring-shaped catchlight.

    The essence: If you want a ring-shaped catchlight, you need a ring light, not a ring flash. If you get a ring light, get a big one, larger than 15", the larger, the better.
    Post edited by FlowtographyBerlin on
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    You can always just add it in post:
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,200Moderator
    @FlowtographyBerlin: I am really confused by your post Flow; As far as I am concerned, the advantage of a ringlight is the 'shadowless' look it gives to the subject. The DISadvantage of a ringlight is the doughnut shaped catch lights in the eyes - I find them to be unnecessary/unnatural distractions.
    Always learning.
  • paulrpaulr Posts: 1,176Member
    edited December 2014
    Not a flash but constant light 3200K to 3500k 411 LED lights from Fotodiox. Used it for Macro work and shot images in a Cave, made amazing light, At least with a constant light you can see where the shadows fall.

    Results of the Fotodiox 411 Ringlight with a Nikon V3
    Post edited by paulr on
    Camera, Lens and Tripod and a few other Bits
  • @FlowtographyBerlin: I am really confused by your post Flow; As far as I am concerned, the advantage of a ringlight is the 'shadowless' look it gives to the subject. The DISadvantage of a ringlight is the doughnut shaped catch lights in the eyes - I find them to be unnecessary/unnatural distractions.
    If you want to avoid the donut catchlight, then there's absolutely no use of getting a ring light, so no need to put up with all its downsides. Get a ring FLASH and you're golden.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,155Member
    I am trying to achieve the following effect for portraits:

    http://www.thefstopmag.com/wp-content/uploads/hanks.jpg

    So I am thinking a ring flash (but even if I had donut shaped catchlights, that seems pretty easy to deal with in post).

    I am heavily invested in the Nikon flash system. I have 5 SB-910s with Pocketwizard FlexTT5s and the AC3 zone controller. I would like something that will integrate with this system.
  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    @WestEndFoto I'm thinking you can achieve that look with grids or barn doors instead of a ring flash. The light in that photo is controlled - actually looks somewhat diagonal from upper left to lower tight. I'd first try light modifiers before investing in more lights.
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,155Member
    Grids and barn doors will always come in handy even if it does not give me the look that I am looking for in this case. So that is an astute observation.
  • I am trying to achieve the following effect for portraits:

    http://www.thefstopmag.com/wp-content/uploads/hanks.jpg
    What's that look got to do with ring flash, WestEndFoto? That looks like a standard reflector on a normal studio flash for the main light, which is coming from camera right and above. Plus a light for the background and some more lights for getting the shadows lighter, plus some post. THAT could be a ring flash, on something like minus 4 f-stops, but (if that's true) that surely doesn't make the look of the image. If you want that look specifically, no ring flash needed.

    If you're interested in recreating that portrait, we can help you to recreate the lighting more precisely, too.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    The image shown is not a ring flash, but a soft source probably worked over in post to obtain the semi vignette effect.
    Msmoto, mod
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,155Member
    edited December 2014
    It is Tom Hanks a few years back, perhaps shot with film. I wonder how much post could be done to create a certain lighting effect and whether that is Dan Winters' style?

    In any event, the picture was part of an assignment in photography class. 4 people in class were given the assignment to imitate and document the light in this image with real models (the model had the beard, was dressed the same and was a dead ringer for Tom Hanks). The other 12 of us received other images to replicate and unfortunately I got stuck with a picture of Angeline Jolie in lingerie and last year's "Miss British Columbia".

    All four had a strobe aimed at the screen behind in a way that generated the falloff. All four also used a light on upper camera right. There was variation here amoung the four. Softbox with grids, strobe with snoot etc. The results of course differed. I seem to recall that the softbox with grids seemed to replicate the look the most and that makes sense to me.

    The third light is what was most interesting and was the point of the assignment. Two ended up using variations on what you guys discussed above and two used ring flashes (Acute D4 Ring). Everyone uses light meters and Profoto D4s to really dial in the ratios. I don't believe that the lighting on the camera left of the model was achieved with a 4 stop reductions. I think it was in the 2 to 3 range, but that is not important to my point.

    The two that did not use rings looked nice, but the two that used the ring nailed it. The differences are hard to describe, but obvious on the models left side, particularly the ear. The shadows are different and the ring light produced a quality that I find impossible to describe, but very pleasing that the alternative lighting arrangements did not achieve. The two that did not use the ring light thought that they achieved the effect, but when we viewed the images in class, they realized that they missed the mark.

    In any event, even if the look can be achieved without a ring light, it is obvious that a ring light, used in conjunction with other lighting, can produce some interesting and subtle effects that I would like to explore more.

    However, the profoto D4 setup is a $10,000 plus investment and I find that the power output of my SB-910s is sufficient (for now) (with the D4s, I find the most common challenge is being able to turn down the power enough when I am integrating it with ambient light). I am looking for a ring flash solution that integrates with my SB-910 (5 in total) and my Pocketwizard FlexTT5s and the AC3 zone controller.

    This is the first of five lighting classes in the program that I am taking, so I will definitely be spending a lot of time on lighting over the next 3 or 4 years and don't mind making the investment required to explore lighting as much as possible.


    Post edited by WestEndFoto on
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,155Member
    edited December 2014
    Not a flash but constant light 3200K to 3500k 411 LED lights from Fotodiox. Used it for Macro work and shot images in a Cave, made amazing light, At least with a constant light you can see where the shadows fall.

    This looks interesting, but am not sure if it will integrate with my SB-910/Pocketwizard/AC3 zone controller setup. I imagine that I would also need to find a way to deal with the white balance issues.
    Post edited by WestEndFoto on
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    While the use of light modifiers is the rule in the days of film, the procedures used are fairly straight forward. An interesting exercise is to reproduce the photos taken about 80-100 years ago when the ISO (ASA) was in the single or double digits.

    I have used as many as 15 or more spots to illuminate a room scene, the result looking as if a single source were used.

    As we experiment with lights, use lots of cardboard and light stands, we discover a lot of really very nice effects.

    There are several ways to reproduce the image discussed above, but highly unlikely to be able to do this with only one flash. Two could do it if used with some reflectors to fill shadows as desired.
    Msmoto, mod
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,155Member
    Yeah Msmoto, the opportunities are endless, which is what makes photography so interesting.

    In the in-class replication of the above photo, regardless of whether a ring light was used, there were three lights. I used 4 in my "Angeline Jolie Simulation" and got a very good result, but would have nailed it with 5.
  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    What I find most interesting in your endeavor WestEndFoto is the fact that you're trying to create a look that doesn't simply bathe the entire face of the subject in light - which can in fact often be boring. The more that I've tried to use flash correctly and effectively I also find myself wanting to use less of it and create more dramatic images as the one you've linked. I'll continue to follow.
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,155Member
    edited December 2014
    It is quite the endeavor, that is for sure.

    My assignment was to create the below image. Click the right arrow 8 times.

    http://homem.net/angelina-jolie-atriz/

    Ava

    The model is Ava.

    There was a strobe behind her aimed at the screen. I had two strobes on the same group behind and to each side (about a 45 degree angle) with a rectangular soft box. The front was lit with a big softbox right in front of her. Besides some issues with the pose and some lighting that I am not happy with on her tummy (her tummy geography was tricky), I am happy with the image. Where I missed on the assignment was underexposing the background, which I did not notice until it was on my screen. Personally, I find the actual Angeline Jolie shot a little harsh though and prefer the softer background of mine.

    I like both styles of photography for sure. But to Rx4Photo's point, the other effect is something I find interesting. I wish I had a sample image from the class member that nailed the assignment on that one.
    Post edited by WestEndFoto on
  • @WestEndFoto: There's no need to use Profoto gear for the effect, you can get that much, much cheaper. Profoto is good, but the qualities that it has you rarely need, even as a professional. Profoto is the stuff that you rent, so the gear is made to last, last, last, with some indeed very nice features if you use the AIR system. However when you look at a photo, there's no "Profoto look" that you can't achieve with other brands, it's still just light and modifiers.

    I would guess, given the hard shadows, that the modifier on the right was not a softbox.

    Yes, you're right with the ring flash detail, good job analyzing, too! However, it's really not something you cannot achieve without it. Do keep in mind that these images involve a LOT of post, always. In fact, you could even achieve the illumination of the shadow parts in post.

    If you really want to invest in a ringflash, there's many, many other options by cheaper brands, (and I'm not talking Broncolor ;-) depending on where you live.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,155Member
    I hear you on the Profoto stuff. I do not feel the need to go out and buy that.

    It is a hard shadow. Perhaps it was the strobe with a snoot. Hmmm......or just a strobe.

    Any thoughts on what those ringlight options are that will integrate with my current system of SB-910s, Pocketwizards and Pocketwizard zone controller?

    I won't cry myself to sleep if I can't find a ring light option, as you said above, there are other alternatives. But if I can do it for $500ish, not including triggers, than it is an easy buy.

    I live in Vancouver, Canada and have access to B&H etc.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,176Member
    edited December 2014
    I dont quite like that Jolie shot compared with others on that list. but I agree its an interesting shot to recreate.

    Comparing your shot to the sample. I think there are a few more differences besides what you have mentioned.
    1) I think the Jolie shot was shot using a much wider angle lense.
    2) The side lights were even further back than your 45 degrees. notice the nose were not lighted by the side lights.
    3) the model was posing standing on her front leg rather than on her back leg like jolie. ie her front hip was slightly higher.
    4) the front light was a bit bigger in the Jolie image.

    That's as much as I can contribute :-)
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,176Member
    edited December 2014
    Regarding tom hanks photo. Its nice. I dont think its a ring light though. Looks to me like a fill flash with diffuser slightly to the top left of camera probably a umbrella. The light is a bit cooler and has the "Flash colours" or silvered umbrella. you can see the fill light slightly reflected on the temple of his head. Maybe there are 2 fill lights.
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

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