Introduction: Camera Light Ring

Picture of Camera Light Ring

Hello everyone,

Now before I begin, I cannot take full credit for this because other people have done this before. But I wanted to show a step by step guide of the way I did it. This light ring guide will show you how to make an inexpensive light ring that you can build for any camera that's out there.

For those of you that don't know, a light ring is.....well....its a ring of lights. lol. Anyway, It fits around your camera lens and allows you to get really even light on things, so when your doing macro photography for example; you can shoot at a faster frame rate, or lower f-stops.

The great thing is that by adding more light to the subject, is you can comfortably take a shot without a tripod and not worry about handshake blur. And when your out in the woods taking insect shots, sometimes you don't have the time to get the tripod ready. tripods can be a bit of a hassle in these cases.

Now, This one was made for my Sony R1 camera. Anyone out there who owns one knows that their light ring costs over $200. Ouch!! This one looks just as good and does the job just as well.

Things you will need:

- 24 LED Camp light
- 4XAA battery box with On/off Switch
- Wire
- dremel tool with cut off wheel and sanding drum
- sandpaper
- glue gun
- small heat shrink tubing

Step 1:

Picture of

I thought about making one from scratch but to be honest, to build one as nice as this, you need a lot of time, and access to certain things that can become quite expensive. for example, LED's are cheap now, but if your buying 20 of them, well - things just add up.

I live in Canada, and by some miracle, when I saw the original project and what they used, I ran off to see if there was anything like it around. To my surprise, Canadian Tire sells these "Camp Lights" that have a ring of 24 LEDs on it. Even better, the day I went, they had it on sale for $8.....I was happy ;)

Here is a pic and all I can say is try to find this light online somewhere or at a local hardware store because this is your main purchase and its PERFECT for this project. for $8, its a steal!!!

Step 2:

Picture of

This is what it looks like out of the Box. Its got a hanging ring in the middle which you can throw out, or keep in the junk drawer for another project. "reuse, reduce, recycle"!

Step 3:

Picture of

When you open it, you will see the board that the lights are soldered to, the battery terminals, and the on/off switch.

Remove all the battery terminals and unscrew the on off switch. The hole will be big and all these get in the way.

*IMPORTANT - Keep in mind which wire leads to positive and which one leads to negative as you will be removing the on/off switch as well later on and you want to make sure when you wire it all back up again, you have the right polarity. I marked the negative wire with a black marker so I would remember.

If your unsure, just install the batteries all the way around and look at the two closest to the switch. one wire will lead to the negative end of a battery, and the other will lead to a positive.

This unit is wired in series and if you do the math is running at around 6 volts.

Step 4:

Picture of

Now for the fun stuff. You want the ring to slide around your lens. In my case, I wanted it to slide around my lens hood. I always put my lens hood in backwards on my camera when its not being used, and as such, makes the perfect place to slide the light ring around. this way, I have full zoom functions on my lens and the light ring will not affect any of the cameras functions.

Keep that in mind when deciding how your ring will fit on your setup. For us R1 users, this is the best way.

My hood diameter is about 3 5/16". Cut a template to your size out of sturdy cardboard or what ever you can find.

Place the template as close to center as you can and draw your line. you will have to cut this out on both pieces (front cover and back).

Step 5:

Picture of

I used a dremel cut off wheel to take the majority of material off. Then I used a small sanding drum attachment to do the rest. Don't go too crazy with the wheel or you might go too far into your line.

Step 6:

Picture of

After I sanded out the first hole and made sure it fit my camera, I laid the main part over the back cover and traced the hole as best I could and then started at that piece until both looked like this.

Step 7:

Picture of

I then removed some wire from an old power supply (this one was from an old cordless phone)and wired up the negative and positive leads from the light housing and put some shrink tubing on for good measure.

I wanted everything to look nice so I kept the rubberized molded end from the wire and cut some notches on the housing so when I closed them up, everything would look nice and neat. you don't have to go through all this trouble but it makes it look nice.

I also hot glued the wires a little to the casing so they would not pull out.

After this, you can wire the box up any way you like. I bought the box at a local surplus store and the original wires that were sticking out were pulled back in and cut down so I had room to fish the new wire inside. I tied a not with the new wire inside the box so it could not be accidentally pulled out.

I also had a broken tape measure that I kept around so I took the belt clip part and added it to my battery box with a small nut on the back so it would not come off. I'm a pack rat at times but some things do come in handy and it also helps to reduce all this junk we throw out!

Step 8:

Picture of

Last but not least, I put a little dab of glue around the housing and quickly joined the covers together and made sure everything was tight and lined up. I also used some electrical tape and wrapped it around the outside edge to give it a nicer look (The whole white thing looked a little cheap). I also added some black foam to the inside of the ring just to cover up the insides.

All that was left to do was try the finish product on.

I Hope this guide was helpful and for what its worth, I saved a small fortune, and now have a quality light ring for all my close up needs. As I said before, The camera is a Sony DSC-R1 and because of the way I store my lens hood on my camera, it made the perfect mount for this light ring.

NOTE: I said quality light ring(In looks anyway), but the truth is that these leds are not the perfect colour spectrum and therefore give a liitle too much blue light off. The good news is that some white balance calibration or a little bit of photoshop can fix that with ease.

Here was 2 test shots taken with my macro lens in my office. the shots were pretty lousy I admit but it just gives an example of the highlights and how I could archive the same level of brightness at a higher shutter speed. Both shots were taken at f5.6.

Shot 1 was done in natural light with a shutter setting NR 1.6
Shot 2 I was able to bump it up to 1/8 s

ENJOY!! and don't forget to vote...


Yonatan24 (author)2015-12-09

Hi, I've added your project to the "DIY LED Camera Ring Lights" Collection

This is the link If you are interested

rcgriffin1127 (author)2015-08-30

This has got to be the simplest, most logical project for a ring light I have seen on here so far. I looked at about 4 or 6 other projects and they are WAY more involved than I would even consider attempting. Haha I'm gonna try this one today! -=80)

Rainh2o (author)2013-06-02

This is a great idea...Was thinking about getting one of the automobile ring lights that are in some of the new cars but this is way cheaper and comes with a nice housing already made if your carefull...thanks for passing this along

ephophex (author)2009-08-28

Great write-up, and thanks for the idea. My tweaks:

1) A $5 Cokin-compatible filter holder from ebay provided a mounting ring that I glued to the body of the light. Now, the entire assembly simply screws onto my lens threads.

2) A 3.5mm male-to-male extension, along with a coupler provides the means to disconnect the body from the battery box. This makes spinning it onto threads much easier. Alternatively, it also permits connection of a 4.5 V adapter for longer shooting sessions. See the image link on #1.

3) I used the 48 LED version, and added a toggle switch to enable using either just the inner ring of LEDs, or both the inner and outer. The switch is visible at the 12 o'clock position in this image:

4) A cutout from a cheapie translucent bucket lid from Lowe's serves as a diffuser. You can see the effect here:

Thanks for the inspiration - this is cheap, and it works.

Rainh2o (author)ephophex2013-06-02

Thats a great Job on that! I need to try this

crazyg (author)2012-08-02

i made one for my spinner 360 ,

svarnell1 (author)2012-05-05

I was reading on a youtube video about some of these LED rings being built wrong (too many batteries) and the LEDs burning out on first use. I would put batteries in and test the unit (and return if it burns out) before I disassembled.

tshirtdav (author)2009-09-14

good call...still need to paint...

bbarbaros (author)tshirtdav2011-11-22

wow it`s freaking bright :) is it the same camping light?

CB2001 (author)2010-10-02

I went to Deals$ and bought one of these units. The biggest differences is its a 36-LED light. I've got a couple of pictures of it. So, if there's anything different I need to do wiring wise in comparison to this tutorial, let me know. I know I'm going to need to remove the power button on the front and the inner ring and have the power switch/power line running in from the outside of the ring. However, the upside is the inner ring, with the LEDs removed, gives me at least a template on what to cut out from the front. I've already bought a four AA battery power compartment from Radio Shack.

So, again, any recommendations about what to do different with this unit, let me know. And if anyone wants a better picture of the inside, let me know, I've got it. :D

Wyrmridr (author)CB20012011-09-01

I've got an idea for you - use the inner ring as a ring flash for a P&S camera. All the LEDs are in place and wired - all you'd have to do is encase the inner ring, and hook up some more batts.

Just a thought.

Wish I had a store like that near where I live... I'd probably get into too much trouble, tho... ;)

CB2001 (author)2010-09-13

I've found a few of these for $5 at Deal$ (basically, like a Dollar store, only with stuff from $1 on up). The thing with it is that it had two sets of lights. In order to modify it to have a lens fit through it, you'd need to remove one of the sets of lights. Even so, possible potential to me for a mod, especially for only $5. :D

thom__stone (author)2010-03-18

how odd we would do the same thing with almost the same camping light.

thom__stone (author)2010-03-18

nice, alot neater than my version, i used a knife that i heated on the hob :-P

thom__stone (author)2010-03-18

NO WAY! I did almost the exact same thing for a ring light, with almost the exact same camping light, except mine had 2 rings of lights that you could select between :) will upload shots of my build soon as im making another for my mate

larrylas (author)2009-06-24

To all, everyone working on this you're great. I tried one little change and got some interesting results. I have a Nikon D80, it has a built in flash and a hot shoe, I can turn off the built in flash. I wired one leg off project to the hot shoe of camera. The idea was to turn on ring light only when I pressed the shutter, (the hot shoe is a normally open switch, closes when shutter is pressed) it works great but doesn't shut off after shutter is triggered, so much for normally open, anyone done this with different results? You guys do great things keep going!

jaydeechick (author)larrylas2010-03-15

Hey Larrylas,

Did you have any luck with the hotshoe issues? I'm going to attempt this light (see my comment above) but would love to attach it to a hot shoe so it will sync with the camera. Please tell me you were successful, I need all the help/advice I can get. You sound like you know what you're doing with electronics, so if you can't get it right then I don't have a hope in hell!!!
Cheers, Jaydeechick

larrylas (author)jaydeechick2010-03-15

I'm pretty good with electronics, with said I've made two units the one with the hot shoe had an interesting result. the hot shoe worked fine BUT didn't shut off I checked with friends and they had some ideas, I didn't try them all because I liked the second unit better.  I made a second unit with the batteries in a four sell Radio Shack battery box with switch on the side, this was done because the lens I was using was larger and the batteries got in the way of the hole so bigger hole no place for batteries I like this one the best if you have any interest in what it looked like I'll  update posting if you would like to see a picture using this unit I can do that and last but not least if you have any ideas about any of this please share it with me.
Good luck

jaydeechick (author)2010-03-15

This looks great. I am going to give it a go. I would have to be the LEAST electronically minded person on the whole planet, but I'm feeling confident that I can do this.
LED camping light purchased on ebay arrived in post... Check
scrounged through hubby's shed to find other tools..... Check
rummaged through spare electrical cord box to find suitable cord... check
read through comments for other hints and tips.... check

Wish me luck.

I'll post photos when i'm done. It could take me a week or two (possible 4 weeks if I screw up the camping light and have to order a new one). Hehehe.

pthorn91 (author)2010-03-03

 I just want to take a minute to say THANK YOU! I will be doing this for my DSC-R1 this week :)

on a side note, how do you like yours? I love mine, besides the high noise it takes with mid level ISOs and up.
and I can never decide which viewing mode to use.
but the lack of the SLR mirror makes it incredibly quiet! perfect for nature shots and taking photos without being noticed.


blottermusic (author)2010-01-16

Great Instructable

I just finished building one.  I spray painted it while it was disassemble and glued it to a lens hood... it fits over my filters with no problem.

Only change I made was the connection at the ring light...  I used a 9v snap and attached one to the battery pack as well.


themonorail (author)2009-12-26

 well, that's just not fair.

malspike (author)2009-08-26

Just built mine :) The only change was that I mounted it on the sun shield for the lens. Now I can fit it on either of my lenses. Thanks for the instructable.

turtlewax (author)2009-07-20

You could try looking into a LED driver IC to increase brightness by pulsing the DC to the LEDs.
You should be able to dramatically increase your brightness of the ring and you could rig it to trigger from the camera.

thom_vee (author)2009-07-01

Thats funny, I came across this after I had made my own in a very similar way. Mine though can screw into the front of the lens though a 55mm reversing ring that i incorporated into it. Check out my post here-

mattthegamer463 (author)2009-06-23

Has anyone noticed that the LEDs in this product ( the exact same product ) get extremely hot? I popped in 4 AA batteries just to see how it looks before i start hacking, and the LEDs are too hot to touch comfortably after a minute. Is mine broken or is this normal?

benjamin1254 (author)2009-03-28

something you may want to note here is voltage conversions... leds are dc but when you put something like this on you want to see what the unit is rated for and thus get enough power to power the thing... cuz not enough and it wont be effective and it does not look good... too much power and the thing just pops and the leds burn out. So be safe in making sure you have the right amount of power behind the unit and making sure to test everything and test again before taking it out for use.

larrylas (author)benjamin12542009-06-08

I'm coping this as we speak, the way I start a project is first rule "the kiss rule" if you look at the starting picture all batteries are in serial (4.50volts +/-), only two wires end up on the LED ring (+) inside ring and (-) outside ring. Now the JPG of external power supply batteries in serial and wiring to inner and out ring same as the start. KISS (keep in simple stupid) no thought involved, start and finish the same.

larrylas (author)larrylas2009-06-08

OK ! I can't Spell or add 6 volts +/- but the key to this is batteries are in series and LEDs are parallel very important to not having to worry about volts or watts, plus in this case we start and end with same voltage same parallel LEDs and same series Batteries.

frollard (author)benjamin12542009-03-29

Yeah, from the looks of the original, it was 4 AA's in series, ~6 volts. 20ma each for those leds (24 of them) would be 480mA - most wall warts will do this - just make sure to get 6 volts DC and the polarity right.

JSUTHERLAND8 (author)frollard2009-04-06

Clear White LED's have a high voltage drop, (~2.5v), and there will often be several in series. This helps to save power. Most LED's use a series resistor to limit current. So a bit higher voltage is ok. Batteries also range in output (dead 1.2v to new 1.6), with 1.5 volts the norm. Think about it, at 480 mA, a "AA" battery will work for only 1 or 2 hours. Check the current using some new batteries with a Amp meter, across the switch is a good spot to test. My camping light will work for 4 Hours, nice and bright. It uses <250 mA or 1/4 A. Check your power adapter (wall wart) for filtered DC. Using a Volt meter to test DC voltage, check for AC ripple on AC voltage setting, with lights on. AC voltage should be < 1 volt. If ripple voltage is too big LED's will flicker at 60 Hz and mess up exposure of the picture. Best run it off the remote battery pack.

frollard (author)JSUTHERLAND82009-04-06

Wow - I totally miinterpreted that circuit. they cant ALL be in series...not enough voltage :S so.. 6v/2.5 means you can have 2 in each series string. 6v at 40-50ma per strong x 12 seems a lot more reasonable :D 240ma :D

tekjock (author)2009-06-04

I decided to take out the LEDs before cutting. Knowing my luck I would have mucked something up.

tekjock (author)2009-06-04

I found these at the Christmas tree shop in Warwick RI. $3.99 EACH.

larrylas (author)2009-06-02

I am really impressed, I retired from research and development we did brain stroming everyday for an hour or two, you'd be good at that.

mrmucox (author)2009-06-01

These lights are now at Wal-Mart (Camping section) for about $7+tax. I just made one last night. I had just bought a white balance cap on eBay, and used that to be able to thread the light on and off the camera. I also was able to fit this inside the batteries, and just had to move the switch.

phrank70 (author)2009-05-16

Great project. I made this with some interesting mods. If your lens has 58mm threads or less you can build this without taking out the batteries, and relocating in a separate pack. Order yourself four appropriate size UV filters, (I got mine on e-bay for $1.99 total shipping included.) Remove the locking rings and UV filter, save for later maybe, you only want the outer rings. The only mod to the original, other than the hole you will drill, is relocating the on/off switch. I threaded the four rings together then inserted them in the hole. Now I just thread it onto my existing 58mm lens thread and start shooting. NO cords one piece.

2ManyProjects (author)2009-05-11

This is a great project! Even if the LED's are a little blue and you replace them there is more than $6 worth of work in building the housing. Amazon has the light, as well as some with a lot more LEDs.

bradparler (author)2009-04-02

Has any one had issues w/ the color temp of the LEDs in the camping lights w/ use in video - I've heard that they have a blue tent to them.... Nice project - BTW!

nickademuss (author)bradparler2009-04-05

They do have a blue tint to them, that's why the real ones cost so much, that and anything that has something to do with camera's and light cost $$$. You can get around this if you own a digital that you can adjust the white balance. You can shoot a white sheet of paper and adjust it until its not blueish anymore. If your shooting film you may have to use a filter to compensate, then it negates the advantage of a ring light, you now have to increase shutter time to get enough light in. This will work on A DSLR because most of them you can adjust the white balance, on mine I can even let it auto program it.

bradparler (author)nickademuss2009-04-06

Hey Nick, Thanks for commenting back - I've worked in Broadcasting for more than 10 years, and know how to white balance a camera, but still think that if you light source is not a standard color temp you can only take it so far. Also - when you attach anything thing to a camera it does cost more - but only in mark up, not in true cost to make - that's why I'm here to see where I can buy 5600k daylight LEDs. If anyone has a great source - please message me!

WilderLust (author)bradparler2009-05-10

daylight LEDs will only give that light mix for so long... as they age, they go off... also the power needed for the precise color is equally precise... not really worth the trouble. on the other hand you can do a three color mix CMY light source with a PWM for each and so you can have absolute control over the light temperature... you can use light instead of filters and computer effects... i have done light source photography for over 30 years. i have never owned tinted filters in my life :-)

nickademuss (author)bradparler2009-04-06

Several sellers on ebay have LED's at known wavelengths. Do a Google search for 5600K LED BULK and you will get many hits for loose LED's for you to use.

WilderLust (author)bradparler2009-05-10

yes... i explain how you can have an adjustable light above as a reply to maximumsmoke. it will be a bit more complicated than this but is very doable and does not have to be too expensive either. you can, as someone suggests below buy LEDs with specific temperatures but you will not get absolutely perfect temperature that way because the LEDs will give that specific temperature for only so long and also demand very precise power levels which is difficult to achieve with a battery setup for portable macro light (outdoors). the CMY light mix on the other hand can be adjusted to give the best light... sometimes you may want a warmer light or cooler light... instead of using filters, or photoshop, you can do the same with the adjustable light. it works very well... i made one a long time ago for my studio (not portable) but you can make a battery operated one easily.

maximumsmoke (author)2009-04-09

great instructable! thanks. i was wondering about mixing yellow leds with the "white" leds. would this help with the color correction?

WilderLust (author)maximumsmoke2009-05-10

if you really want good color balance capabilities, the best way to do it is by setting up a three color setup with high frequency PWM adjustment for each color... then you can adjust the overall temperature by playing with the levels of each of the primary light colors. this is essentially what you do in color enlargers in darkrooms... you dial in the level of CMY intensity... in enlargers, however, you are adding filter to the full spectrum light where as with LEDs you are adjusting the duration of on time for each of the color light strings.

I thought about that too but It could make the problem worse by giving the picture a blochy look. I don't know how well the light will mix, but it is a possibility. To be honest, the manual white balance on the camera really does work well, I just never used it when I showed my test photos. With digital photography, it is much easier to correct light colour than it was with film photography. And these features (white balance correction) are already integrated in your camera. The real problem I have with this project is not white balance (thats easy to fix), its sheer "light power".

rb52 (author)2009-04-09

Great idea ! Made a single LED light (1 LED) for microscope but died so I'm going to do this one with a wall rat.

WilderLust (author)rb522009-05-10

Your LED probably died because of poor current regulation... LEDs need a very precise current to operate... especially for situations like photography where the light color temperature is critical. there are many regulator schematics on the web... some on this site.

lownwolf (author)2009-04-16

Would it be possible to install a dimmer instead of just an on/off switch? I would think it would be simple, yet I don't know if all LED's can dim..

About This Instructable




More by alexfagundes:Razor Orochie Mouse Tacticle Button ModCamera Light Ring
Add instructable to: