Instructables

Build ring light for your camera

Featured
I am not a professional photographer, not even into marco photography that much, but quite often I find difficult to take good detailed shots of my railway models. The flash on my Canon camera casts deep shadows over the ridges so I often end up bringing 5-6 light to the subject to get as many light sources as I can.

I did not want to spend several hundred pounds of professional equipment, hence I was happy to find the following site:
http://metku.net/index.html?path=mods/ring-light/index_eng
This was simple enough for me to build, made from components that are easy to get.

You need the following:
- T10 21-LED White Light Car Angle Eye (70mm Diameter) from Dealextreme
- T10 24-LED White Light Car Angel Eye (90mm Diameter) from Dealextreme
- T10 39-LED White Light Car Angel Eye (120mm Diameter) from Dealextreme
- Big Altoids peppermints box from local supermarket
- Old laptop power supply “borrowed” from work
- 3.5 mm stereo plugs and socket, 3 each. I used a socket which has screw mount, so it is easy to fit into the box.
- 2.5 mm DC socket that fits your power supply plug
- TS7812 1A 12V fixed voltage regulator
- 9V battery clips
- Adapter ring, my Canon ESO 300D has 58mm ring
- Some cable

The Altoids box is big enough to fix two 9V batteries which give enough voltage when connected in series. The voltage regulator keeps the voltage on 12V which is required for the LED rings. In most cases I would use the ring light when mains is around hence I opted for the external power supply.

The adapter ring I used to mount the ring light on is a 58-58 mm Marco Reverse Adapter Ring that I bought from this store: http://stores.ebay.com/ADPLO. This has a nice rim where I could glue the base on.

The electronic components are either Maplin or Farnell. There is nothing special about them. The voltage regulator heats up during use, especially if the “in voltage” is high. I am using an old 19.7 V laptop power supply. Just to be on the safe side I put a small heat sink on the voltage regulator. Note that in my ring light I was using the base ring of the 3.5 mm jack for ground and the outer connector of the power supply is also ground. These terminals are connected through the metal mounting screws and the box. So if your power supply has the positive outside and the negative inside it can cause short circuit.

See the video from the build:
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
RAZRus made it!1 month ago

Good project!
That's my version :)

фото.JPGфото 2 (1).JPGфото 3.JPGфото 4.JPG
nygma2004 (author)  RAZRus1 month ago

very nice, thanks for sharing. Is that happens to be a voltage regulator from dealextreme?

It's switching voltage regulator from aliexpress :)
Сertainly, on dealextreme it also available

Chee Seng3 months ago
Here's my version I made to clip on to my GoPro.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Ring-Light-for-GoPro/
Array.png
nygma2004 (author)  Chee Seng3 months ago
Thanks for sharing. I like your project, battery is definitely a better choise than mine.
Cheers, i'm pretty happy with the build :)

The battery is portable enough but i'm in the process of attaching 4 x 3.7 V batteries into the ring itself, so that I can have one integrated piece. I noticed you used a voltage regulator to cut your voltage back to 12 V. Is a voltage regulator the best way to do this? I'm a bit of an electronics beginner....
nygma2004 (author)  Chee Seng3 months ago
I am not an electronic expert either, but I think voltage regulator is a good choice. Especially because it requires minimal components. If the input voltage is close to the regulated voltage, the heat dissipation is minimal. But the voltage regulator certainly uses up some power. Alternatively you can use diodes in series as there is a 0.6V drop on each diode.
I would say stick with the above component, it is a single piece, no mess. Test if you need a heat sink for your design. Since your blackplate is metal, just mount against the metal with a bit of thermal paste.
kweh12 months ago
'nother great tute from 'nother greater Aussie!
love your work. I'm guessing most parts came from Jaycar?
diy_bloke1 year ago
sadly DX does not seem to sell these anymore, at least I can't find them and links i found in another article go dead :-(
You may want to try again. I just opened all three links. They work fine.
Hey,

Your camera is a 58mm lens, what adapter ring did you use? I have a 58mm lens too and was thinking of getting a 58mm to 72mm step up ring.

Thanks

D
yaly2 years ago
You can use two cables only one for power and one for the leds. The one for the leds can be four terminals one terminal for ground preferably the base and the others one for each ring so you can add switches and potentiometer to controll each and ring individualy.
bobbywaz3 years ago
Here's what I got out of this instructable: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.35846

Several hundred fractional pounds.
nygma2004 (author)  bobbywaz3 years ago
Wow, I am always suprised to find out that whatever you need, it is probably being produced in "non-name" factory, somewhere is China. Thanks for sharing this.
There is a problem with these bought ones that is easily overcome by making your own... The diameter of the light housing is too small for a zoom lens or a wide aperture fixed "auto Focus" lens.

I bought one and although it showed promise light wise, I wouldn't count on it for much past a few feet. I'd have loved to have found this project before I bought a flash accessory for my outfit.

Thanks for taking the time to show us how it's done.
AJ
nygma2004 (author)  Alienjones3 years ago
Yes you are right. This is good for me to take shadow free close shots, but does not have the strength to work from further away.
Have you had any problems with the LED rings yet, I'm looking into making one of these and am curious about the longevity of the LED's. I'm also looking to install a few partial rings in the dashboard of my Jeep to illuminate the instruments, and want to ensure i won't have to replace them within the next year.
nygma2004 (author)  Joenavy852 years ago
Honestly, I hardly used it since I built it, so I would rather say anything. Check the comments and the forum posts on Dealextreme to see if anyone has issues with these lights. Quality looks OK, no complicated electronics, so I would expect them to last.
Great instructable, fantastic video, and awesome idea. Congratulations. How long will the all three rings run off of 2 9-volt batteries?
About 3 hours , i think 9V's have 1.1aH , since he puts it in series . And because the VR decreases the voltage to about 2/3 , it should last another ... 9V battery x 1.1AH = 9.9W , 12V x 0.4 ? 3W . About 4 hours i think ? Those SMT LED's is always cheap when bought in stock :D
No, PP3 9V batteries have around 0.56Ah. The regulator is linear, so excess voltage is wasted as heat.
--> you'd get about an hour strong light off two PP3 Alkaline batteries
+ then a very long slowly decreasing curve of light.

You could always get a 8x AA battery holder and run it off 8 Alkalines direct with no regulator (~5 hrs run time off good alkalines), or a 10x AA battery holder and run it off rechargeable Nimh.s (~4hrs run time).
I thought he was talking rechargables .
I see . I forgot the regulator is linear .
nygma2004 (author)  jarvist3 years ago
Hi Jarvist, thanks for this comment.
nygma2004 (author)  Electronics Blurred3 years ago
Thanks for the response. The battery operation was always a backup for me, as I am using it indoors when mains in available. But that sounds about right.
You could use it for some time , try using rechargeables ;)
Or else you would have to buy new ones everytime it runs out .
I hate that stuff .
But , where else will we use except for outdoors ? ;)
We don't use it always Inside , of course .
i dont understand the adapter ring. Does it have a particular name? aside from this, what purpose does it serve?

thanks.
nygma2004 (author)  brianchambers3 years ago
I am not sure either. One side screws onto the end of the lens the other side has those groves that is normally used to fix the lens hood. But I have the same groves on the camera as well, so I would not buy and adapter ring just for the lens hood.
jakovn3 years ago
Do you think this is strong enough for portraits? If yes, what would be the maximum distance?
nygma2004 (author)  jakovn3 years ago
Well... not sure what is enough. If you tell me what ISO and f number to use, I can test how the camera works out the exposure. If this helps.
Well I would hope for a nice photo at ISO 200 and 1/60 at f4 at 55mm?
nygma2004 (author)  jakovn3 years ago
I have done some tests, I let you evaluate the results. I set my camera to ISO 200, f5.6 and the zoom set to 55mm (full zoom on my standard 18-55mm optics). That's around 1.5 meters from the subject. This is with a Canon EOS 300D. With the ring light turned off (inside the living room 9.30pm so quite dark) the exposure time was 2.5 seconds. With all 3 rings turned on it reduced to 0.6 seconds. I hope this answers your question.
Thanks for the info! I'd say it is not perfect for portrait photography but could be used as fill light and for nice circular highlight in the eyes.
-chase-3 years ago
Nicely done nygma2004 - Out of curiouslty, have you attempted to fugure out the guide number for your Ring light yet? also - an after thought - It might be interesting to add a switch or switches on a future build that would allow for each ring to light independantly of the other or in varied combinations or using variable switches to allow dimming of each ring independantly as well. Hmmm, that actually it make me think of some other useful variations as well. Got the gears turning now, ... lol Anyhow, thanks for posting. - chase -
nygma2004 (author)  -chase-3 years ago
Thanks. I was considering switches as well, but with the two 9V batteries added there was no more room in the Altoids box. So my switch is the plug at the moment. My main use of the ring light is to document my various projects, take pictures of my models where flash is not the best option. For me it is not absolutely necessary to control the amount of light to infinite degree. Unplugging one or two rings is just enough. I know there is no red ring, but think about having white and red rings and dim the red ring to simulate sunset colour temperature?
Ahh - i see - you just un-plug them - still a means to control them independantly. Actually you'd be surprized at the colors available. as well as UV. I'm sure there are the tri colored rings using super bright leds as well. lol then things start to get interesting as for color choices using a programable chip controler i would imagine. So have you tested for the guide number yet - it's pretty simple to figure out if you take a moment. Wiki has an in-depth witing about it and how to figure out the guide numbers for flashes etc. It can be pretty involved but to get a general idea - Simply do this: INdoor shot at night - you want only the ring light to light the subject at say 10 ft. Use manual control on you camera - no flash obviously Mount your camera on atripod and keep it the same ten feet for all pics Use about a 50mm or equivelant setting for the lens. ISO 100 Start taking pics at the widest apature down to the smallest apature. load all the pics on your comp to view them pic the best one for exposure and overall lighting of the subject. findout which apature it was taken at ( should say in the exif or even in the camera if you still have that pic loaded. Multiply your best exposure's aperture by the distance you used (10 ft in this example) and that's your personal GN for this light ring on your particular camera. you can do this for each "ring" that is pluged in and for any combination there of. Then, to figure out how far your Light ring will illuminate with which ones plugged in, divide your GN by your aperture. This will be the maximum distance that your Light ring with x-number rings plugged in - can cover at that aperture. post your findings if you have a moment - it'll give you an excuse to use it some more and give the rest of us an idea how powerfull it is. - chase -
jamwaffles3 years ago
The flash/ringlight comparison photos are inspiration alone! I wish I had a DSLR now - the ringlight makes macro photos so much better, and I do a lot of macro stuff (mainly wallpapers for my site - http://www.jamwaffles.co.uk/wallpapers and this would help loads!

Thanks for the instructible :)

James
nygma2004 (author)  jamwaffles3 years ago
It would definitely help your macros. I think you can still build one and fix the ring directly onto the camera body around the lens with blue-tec or double sided tape.
blue-tac - thanks! I was thinking for quite a while how I'd fix the ring to the camera and now I know - thanks again :)
nygma2004 (author)  jamwaffles3 years ago
Or, make an arm and fix it to the body with the tripod screw mount. Than fix the rings to this arm. More high tech than the blue-tac :)
Good idea. I'll give it a go sometime when I have money to buy some LEDs :)
AAndy3 years ago
Great find in that supply company...thanks The idea is super...I already ordered the parts but I think I'm going to add a switch or 2 to allow switching one or more rings out of the circuit to allow a little more control. Thanks again & keep up the great work!
nygma2004 (author)  AAndy3 years ago
The switch was on my original parts list as well, but there was not more space on the box. My switch is the plug :)
AAndy nygma20043 years ago
ahhhhhh sooooooo....good idea....that's a great resource...I ended up buying a bunch of project bits.....just what I need...more project bits.....
The second coolest part is how the caption stay attached to the objects as you move them in the video! I may have missed any comments on evolution from one ring to two to three. I guess the total cost is still dirt cheap with three so why not leave what works well enough alone (my process of forgetting about 1 or 2 rings...
nygma2004 (author)  murrayatuptown3 years ago
Basically it was the price. I thought I should have more rings, and if I don't need so much light, I can just unplug one or two.
Divet3 years ago
What editing program did you use for the moving graphics?
nygma2004 (author)  Divet3 years ago
I use Adobe Premiere for video editing. That's quite an expensive and complicated software. Basically for all objects (text, image, other video) you can define keyframes within the move and specify the properies of the object (position, size, opacity, volume of the video, strength of an effect). The program automatically creates the transition between two keyframes changing the values gradually. I created loads of keyframes for these texts until they appear to follow the moving object. It probably took me 20 minutes per text to complete.
It was worth all your efforts I can assure you... the presentation was terrific and definitely entertaining in a uniquely serious way (as in no silly jokes to make it interesting). This was not my first introduction to a ring lighting rig... but it is definitely the best instructable of one I have seen yet. Thank you for sharing this with us :)
nygma2004 (author)  BlackDidThis3 years ago
Thanks for saying that. I have seen quite a few myself, but there wasn't much on Instructables therefore I thought it worth to share. I considered someone saying that I was just copying someone else's idea, but I was hoping that the presentation and the guide worth another how-to.
truly excellent video. very clear and well made. excellent final product as well. good thinking!
pdtnc3 years ago
wow!! That has to be one of the coolest camera projects.
anax223 years ago
5 stars for the best inst. move ever made ;)
ernestoaug3 years ago
genial, muito caprichoso !
sxdemon3 years ago
WOW!
Your video presentation was excellent; informative, well thought out, and entertaining. This project goes to the top of my "to do" list. Thanks for sharing!
xxjackxx3 years ago
ah, the ubiquitous altoids tin... so many possibilities,so easy to get.
miphz3 years ago
nice!!! i love dealextreme too :)
Daddio_UK3 years ago
You can buy led strips from Hong Kong, high brightness leds in a clear rubber strip that you can bend right round, you could use those, although I think this instructable is probably brighter.
nygma2004 (author)  Daddio_UK3 years ago
I know a few LED strips, but I am not sure if you can bend them sideways, only perpendicular. I like these LED rings so much I am thinking about using them for regular interior lightning.
Wow great work ! will do !
nygma2004 (author)  arduno.com.mx3 years ago
Thanks, let me know how it worked out for you.
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!