Instructables
Instructions for DIY ringlight for the photo enthusiast who wants a professional look without the associated cost. This project costs about a 10th of the real deal and works reasonably well. All told it cost me just under $100 to assemble and about 3 hours of time. I basically followed the workup offered here (http://www.noestudios.com/photo/ringlight/) but I found that it lacked the details about wiring it up. I am a total newcomer to electrical wiring but I sought aid from an expert who looked over my work and proclaimed it good. As a disclaimer, working with electrcity is inherently dangerous and requires a healthy respect for those dangers. I in no way take responsibilty for your safety if you decide to do this project. 120v AC current is very painful AND potentially fatal if the current crosses your heart (see the totally valid criticism below in the comments for an explanation). The danger on this particular project is relatively low but you are dealing with voltage so BE CAREFUL.
Anyway, enough disclaimers, lets get down to it!
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: The materials

Picture of the materials
I already had a bunch of scrap plywood from other projects so thats 20 bucks I saved on this for a sheet of 1/2" birch ply. You don't have to use birch, as it is slightly more expensive than douglas fir or particle board but I like birch. it's pretty.
The first thing to do is cut out our circle from our sheet of ply. I measured out 36" up and down and drew the ring with a pencil on a piece of string tied to a nail at the center. I tried to make as close to perfect as possible but the shape is not really that important because it is on the other side of the camera and won't be seen by anyone other than your models. By having a 36" outer diameter I was able to put 12 sockets on there about 5 1/2" - 6" apart. The ring is 6 inches wide all the way around, giving it an inner diameter of 30". You can go smaller in size if you need to but I wanted a big opening to shoot thru so that I can get wide shots without having to crop out the ring in my images.
I cut thing ring in half so that it will collapse down to half size for easier storage. The sliding bolt locks are not ideal for locking it into to the open position and as of this posting I am still looking for a better solution.

Not pictured below:
-20 feet of 12 gauge wire, 10 black, 10 white. it is pretty cheap, maybe 30 cents a foot.
-12 100 watt bulbs, $5
-bag of electrical connection caps, $3
-box of 1" screws (for sockets)
-box of 5/8" screws (for hinges and bolt locks)

Tools Required:
-wire stripper
-electric drill
-screwdriver
-jigsaw
ramroids556 years ago
I wonder if the lighting would be better using a compact Fluorescent Bulb instead of Regular light bulbs?
If you read the article from here http://www.noestudios.com/photo/ringlight/ (where the original poster credits the idea) it states that CFLs just don't have as much lumens (brightness) as CFLs.

With that being said, I have seen one of these built using a dimmer switch, so that is an idea also ;)
coreyhess3 years ago
i just built my own ring light yesterday and followed this tutorial step-by-step and it turned out awesome! thank you so much for posting this great diy guide! i wouldn't have been able to do it without it!
its an arc reactor for a bigger iron man suit!!! WINNN!
ross3536 years ago
if your interested in star gate you should make this into a model of one. thanks for a starting point for my very own star gate.
timmelideo6 years ago
you can get a real ringflash from alien bees for -$400. the thing about your version, as apposed to other DIY, is that these are tungsten lights, and dont have much power at all. try to shoot at f22.
dvgvintage6 years ago
I just sent this to my DS to make for me, thanks so much!!
curve127 years ago
There are actually some great Compact Fluorescent bulbs that you could use in here. They sell them in specific color temps (i.e. 5900 kelvin and a 94+cri) http://www.fullspectrumsolutions.com/full_spectrum_light_bulbs_30_ctg.htm
It will save on heat and energy as well as last longer. only downside would be they are not dimmable.
Nice work.
PKM curve126 years ago
Seconded- you get greater bulb life, better colour temperature, less heat, less power, can use thinner wires, and CFLs don't have long warm-up times and crippling price tags any more. ... I want a hat like yours :)
120V AC won't kill you? Um... Yes it certainly can. It all depends on the path it takes. If you touch 2 fingers on the two terminals and the current just goes up one finger and down the next one, then likely you'll just get a startling shock. If it goes from one HAND to the other, it will go across your heart and very likely stop it. This is why many electrician (and TV repairmen, etc.) work using one hand and keep one hand behind their backs. Seriously. You can ABSOLUTELY die from playing with household current.
cooblades7 years ago
Hey if you get bored use it as a chandelier
frollard7 years ago
Great project, can't say I need any awesome lighting, but thats neat to know nonetheless. My only thought, although it goes without saying - stating you probably wont die may be factual, but every encounter with high power sources could be your last. Gotta respect it, or it'll bite you.