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09-27-2017, 04:07 PM   #1
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LED Ring "Flashes"

I am looking to buy a ring flash, and noticed some LED versions. However, looking at some reviews it seems they are not flashes but are actually fixed lights, for example :-


Are all LED ring "flash" units simply constant lights, and if so why do they call them "flash" (or "strobes" in the US) ?

09-27-2017, 04:40 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lord Lucan Quote
I am looking to buy a ring flash, and noticed some LED versions. However, looking at some reviews it seems they are not flashes but are actually fixed lights, for example :-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bj3e8qiIJso&t=1s

Are all LED ring "flash" units simply constant lights, and if so why do they call them "flash" (or "strobes" in the US) ?
I expect most LED based ones are always on, thus are usually called "lights". Like in this case, its a ring light. More expensive ones use actual flash tubes and are called ring flashes, as expected.
09-27-2017, 05:32 PM   #3
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I have an inexpensive model and it is a constant light. However, I think this is an advantage as you can evaluate the lighting level before you even take a picture and you can adjust the light level accordingly. For me, this saves time over use of an actual flash.
09-27-2017, 05:35 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lord Lucan Quote
and if so why do they call them "flash" (or "strobes" in the US)
Marketing. And note that most I have seen are marketed on ebay so calling them flashes or strobes makes them sound more sophisticated and expensive. They are not flashes by any means, but for some purposes that is actually better.

09-27-2017, 05:46 PM - 1 Like   #5
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As long as you don't want to freeze motion via a very shorts light pulse, constant light is indeed often preferable. The peak intensity of LED lights is lower, so even when "flashing" briefly, they still need longer illumination than a flash. I'd also recommend to research/test the color rendering if you can. Highly efficient LEDs often have a light spectrum with a lot of gaps, leading to generally poor color reproduction.
09-27-2017, 05:58 PM   #6
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I have the Bolt VM-160 LED Macro Ring Light and it will also flash if you want it too. The use of LED lights makes it possible for the light to "burn" continuously without overheating and consuming the batteries so fast. I don't use it that often, but I am satisfied with it, It's super easy to set up when the light is continuous.
09-27-2017, 07:44 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by JensE Quote
As long as you don't want to freeze motion via a very shorts light pulse, constant light is indeed often preferable. The peak intensity of LED lights is lower, so even when "flashing" briefly, they still need longer illumination than a flash. I'd also recommend to research/test the color rendering if you can. Highly efficient LEDs often have a light spectrum with a lot of gaps, leading to generally poor color reproduction.
I have been curious about the color rendering of "high CRI" LEDs but I am guessing they will not be as balanced as a true strobe based light. LEDs that are considered "warm white" may be a little better balanced, but I believe they all tend to have a blue "spike" and gaps in the greenish and red colors. I would like to do some experiments with various LED emitter devices, but just haven't had the time.

Also LEDs can be "pulsed" for very short periods to push the light output pretty high, but my guess is these inexpensive units don't have that feature. And even there you would still be dependent on the camera shutter for speed versus the short burst of a strobe (and not to mention tricky to sync with the shutter).

Anyway probably more info than the OP wanted, I digress into the weeds...

09-27-2017, 09:45 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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I think most of them - even the cheap ones - have to modes - a constant light - and a brighter flash mode - in this flash mode the led's gets much more current and are brighter than in the continuous mode. They may be nearly as bright as an Ring-flash LZ 9-14, but the light may be emitted in a longer time than with a normal flash but would fit in in the normal flash time of 1/250 s.
10-05-2017, 02:29 PM   #9
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If you are looking for a cheap macro ring flash, here's one that works well. I have been using one for several years now. Never mind the Olympus module, it will work fine on a Pentax.


Sunpak Auto DX 8R ringlight flash w/ module for Olympus OM
10-06-2017, 12:45 AM   #10
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They're much, much weaker than a real flash. Whether they're a waste of time or not will depend on the scenes of your photos.

I think you're better off buying a ring diffuser for your existing speedlight.
10-06-2017, 05:15 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
most I have seen are marketed on ebay so calling them flashes or strobes makes them sound more sophisticated and expensive. They are not flashes by any means, but for some purposes that is actually better.
I'm sure they are for some purposes, but the sellers should not call them flashes or strobes if they are actually constant lights. The buyer should know what they are getting. In the UK it would seem that those sellers are contravening the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, more commonly and wrongly known as the "Trades Description Act".
I have had stuff from ebay which is not what was advertised, and when I complained was told that what I received was "better". Even if it were better (it was not*), it is no excuse.

* In one case it was a Haynes manual for my car. They sent me the manual for a later model. Their argument was that because the later car was better (actually it wasn't), the later manual was better! I don't know how these salesmen don't choke on their own tripe.
10-06-2017, 11:58 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
They're much, much weaker than a real flash. Whether they're a waste of time or not will depend on the scenes of your photos.
Yep...I have an inexpensive ring flash that is far too bright, even on its lowest setting for many close-focus and macro subjects. It has auto-thyristor as an option, but that is even worse.


Steve
10-06-2017, 04:07 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Yep...I have an inexpensive ring flash that is far too bright, even on its lowest setting for many close-focus and macro subjects. It has auto-thyristor as an option, but that is even worse.


Steve
Sounds like a candidate for off-camera with a radio trigger!
10-17-2017, 12:31 PM   #14
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I have a bigger LED bank I use indoors a lot. It's better than a flash for a lot of situations.

Outdoors, doing macro, it's a Sunpak ring flash -a true strobe. I use it in manual mode.
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