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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Can a ringflash come close to a soft box?
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03/29/2009 07:08:55 PM · #1
How close does a ringflash come to softening shadows like a soft box? I want something to work in sometimes tight spaces, windy outdoor areas and easily transportable. But i need good soft results.
03/29/2009 07:41:23 PM · #2
Different animals, IMO. I'll temper my comments by saying that I have limited direct experience, but consider this:
- With a ring flash, you get absolutely shadow-free lighting, because the light emission encircles the lens... there can be no shadows, assuming that ambient light doesn't cast them, of course.
- With a soft box, you can place shadows as you desire, to give depth to the subject (via softbox placement), and you can control the sharpness and depth of shadows by distance from the subject, and again placement.
03/29/2009 09:19:37 PM · #3
If I placed the ringflash to the left of the subject, would I get some contrast on the right side?
03/29/2009 09:21:05 PM · #4
Originally posted by dmadden:

If I placed the ringflash to the left of the subject, would I get some contrast on the right side?


Sure, but a ringflash is *designed* to be used with a lens in its center. You'd be better off bouncing a regular flash off an umbrella, for that job.

R.
03/29/2009 09:46:41 PM · #5
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Originally posted by dmadden:

If I placed the ringflash to the left of the subject, would I get some contrast on the right side?


Sure, but a ringflash is *designed* to be used with a lens in its center. You'd be better off bouncing a regular flash off an umbrella, for that job.

R.


I dont plan to use it like that. I want to use it from side anges and fool with contrasting, can that work?
03/29/2009 09:55:33 PM · #6
Originally posted by dmadden:

Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Originally posted by dmadden:

If I placed the ringflash to the left of the subject, would I get some contrast on the right side?


Sure, but a ringflash is *designed* to be used with a lens in its center. You'd be better off bouncing a regular flash off an umbrella, for that job.

R.


I dont plan to use it like that. I want to use it from side anges and fool with contrasting, can that work?


I would suppose so, but I have no experience to prove (or disprove) it. You can find out easily enough :-)

R.
03/30/2009 04:47:38 AM · #7
Give it a go, I had planned to try the same a while back- and still do! It definitely gives an interesting effect.
03/30/2009 01:38:34 PM · #8
While we're on the topic of ringflashes....
Anybody care to weigh in on their thoughts on the Orbis or Ray Flash strobe adapter?
03/30/2009 02:37:24 PM · #9
I'm going to mix it useing a ring for main, monolight w/beauty dish fill and monolight for seperation/hair. What do you think about that mix?

Message edited by author 2009-03-30 14:37:33.
03/30/2009 03:00:39 PM · #10
Originally posted by dmadden:

I'm going to mix it useing a ring for main, monolight w/beauty dish fill and monolight for seperation/hair. What do you think about that mix?


It will work but should give you some very dramatic effects. Once you get everything set up you will have to play with the lights to get them to work the way you want them too as far as stopping each one to the correct exposure but over all it should work. I'd be interested in seeing the out come and a diagram of your setup once you get it working correctly.
03/30/2009 03:09:02 PM · #11
Originally posted by kirbic:


- With a ring flash, you get absolutely shadow-free lighting, because the light emission encircles the lens... there can be no shadows, assuming that ambient light doesn't cast them, of course.

I don't find this to be the case. Usually, I find a ring light leaves a slight shadow all the way around the subject, since there is more light hitting the background away from the subject (photons from the entire flash) than there is hitting the background right near the edge of the subject (photons from only half the flash are hitting here).

Example images:

//strobist.blogspot.com/2006/09/super-cheap-diy-ring-flash.html
//static.photo.net/attachments/bboard/006/006mYG-15701284.jpg
//www.flickr.com/photos/yozefff/2492071764/in/photostream/

It all depends, of course, on how the light is used (farther away should leave a harsher but less visible shadow wrap).
03/30/2009 03:32:32 PM · #12
Originally posted by dmadden:

I'm going to mix it useing a ring for main, monolight w/beauty dish fill and monolight for seperation/hair. What do you think about that mix?

Or you could use the ring as your fill light: //strobist.blogspot.com/2008/10/on-axis-fill-experimenting-with-ring-as.html
03/30/2009 05:32:34 PM · #13
While we are what iffin'... it has crossed my mind that you might be able to use a ringflash on a small lightstand behind the subject as your b/g light to overexpose white seemless paper. If I understand correctly, it would make it easy to achieve bright, even lighting instead of trying to balance two standard strobes on either side. Having never seen a ringlight much less handled one, I have no idea if they would be suited to such a use.
03/30/2009 05:47:46 PM · #14
Originally posted by nova:

While we are what iffin'... it has crossed my mind that you might be able to use a ringflash on a small lightstand behind the subject as your b/g light to overexpose white seemless paper. If I understand correctly, it would make it easy to achieve bright, even lighting instead of trying to balance two standard strobes on either side. Having never seen a ringlight much less handled one, I have no idea if they would be suited to such a use.


I doubt it will work well. A ring light is a fairly focused beast, not a lot of spread, so you'll still have a hot spot and falloff all around.

R.
03/30/2009 05:56:20 PM · #15
Originally posted by dmadden:

If I placed the ringflash to the left of the subject, would I get some contrast on the right side?


What are you going for/ trying to achieve?

A ringflash is a direct flash, and when used as designed you get a fairly flatly lit face/subject. If that's what you want then great. If you want something else, then get the right tool (flash/modifier) for the effect/results you want.

I would think that a ring flash, whether on camera or off, would work just like any other direct flash be that a monolight or a speedlight - depending on distance to the subject you'd get harsh, hard edged shadows. Add in a reflector for fill and you'd even out the ratio a bit.

I think of ringflashes as specialized items - good for that one job but not much else, and usually not cheap.

As for emulating a softbox..um, no. A softbox is trying to emulate a large light sourxc like a window (more or less). It's designed to give you a soft, fairly non-directional light with soft edged shadows (again, depends on distance to subject, size of softbox, etc).
03/30/2009 08:21:34 PM · #16
You can drive a nail with a screwdriver too.
03/30/2009 08:59:32 PM · #17
What i'm realy loooking for is a compact solution to a decent sized softbox. I have'nt acquired the ringflash as yet, but from what I see the shadows seem really soft. And I saw this in images lit by ringflash with no mods. So imagine using a ringflash as a fill. Should get some intersting contrasting.
03/30/2009 09:49:28 PM · #18
Originally posted by Bear_Music:


I doubt it will work well. A ring light is a fairly focused beast, not a lot of spread, so you'll still have a hot spot and falloff all around.
R.


Ah that makes sense to me, thanks Robert.
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