Instructables

Make a 48 LED Macro Ring Light for SLR for $10

Picture of Make a 48 LED Macro Ring Light for SLR for $10
I really like taking macro shots. There's a problem though, without the proper lighting macro shots are really hard to take. You have to use slow shutter speeds, a tripod and can't use your flash becouse you get ugly shadows. The solution is using a ring flash or ring light, but those cost more than 60 dollars. I wanted to get a ringlight for less than 10 bucks, so I started searching around and found a couple of sites that served as inspiration for me to build my own ringlight.
metku.net/index.html
naturemagnified.blogspot.com/2009/11/make-diy-macro-ring-light.html
Those lights are really good, but I took a bit from each of them and used some of my own ideas to get a different ringlight.
I hope you like it
 
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Step 1: What we need

Picture of What we need
First of all,  we need:
-48 LED UFO camping light. I bought mine from ebay (search for "UFO camping light") for about $7 including shipping. This will be our ringlight.
-58mm UV filter, or whatever size you want. You can use a broken or old filter, we really only need the threads. I bought a new one from ebay for $2.50
-4 AA battery case. This will power up our lights. I bought it locally for about $1.
-Car cell phone charger with coiled cable. I had a broken charger, so I used the coiled cable for this project.
-Cell phone charger or AC/DC adapter(Optional). This will be our alternative power source. The one I used came with a bluetooth headset.
-Round food plastic container(Optional). This will be our diffuser. It must be round, transparent and the UFO must fit inside it. Just $1 on a local store.
-Heat shrink tubing or tape
-Epoxi glue.

We also need a solder and a cutting tool.

The battery case I got had connectors like those 9V batteries, so I got a couple of those connectors as well.

jmccleve3 years ago
Wow, this a pretty cool looking camping light. My wife hates when I hang a flashlight from the top of the tent, this would work perfect.
jliang3 years ago
Sorry for any necroposting (there seems to be alot of this going on, but hey, it's useful, right?) but I'm a bit of a newbie when it comes to electrical wiring or anything; what exactly do you mean by "attaching"the 9v battery connector?
Ruta9 (author)  jliang3 years ago
I dont mind the necroposting, it means that my article is been read.
Now, the 9V battery connector is what I called the plug I attached to the charger. It has 2 round terminals, just as the 9V batteries. If you look at the second and third picture you can see it.
Why I used this particular type of connector? becouse the 4AA battery holder I bought had that kind of connector. You can see it on the third picture in the previous step.
asda6533 years ago
Necroposting I'm sure, but I really wanted to thank you (and all previous proprietors!) for this instructable... Second cam instructable I've done and it's working out great, mine doesn't look as professional but it is still pretty clean.

Thanks again. Awesome stuff.
Ruta9 (author)  asda6533 years ago
Don't worry about the necroposting, it's nice to see that my instructable is still useful
 Cool project. Here is a very similar project from last year.

Here are a few other cool ones built from circular strips.
From April 19th 2010
From November 15th 2010

There are a few other cool ones that use fiber optics too. I'm thinking of building a fiber optic on that is adjustable with like velcro or something, so I can attach it to different sized lenses.


Good instructable!
Joe
Ruta9 (author)  joejoerowley4 years ago
Yes, I 'm familiar with those projects. I credited two of them in the intro.
I took some elements from each of those and added some of my own ideas (like the wall charger or the battery case on the hot shoe) to make my own version.
I didn't want to use angel eyes for my project becouse they run on 12v and they are more expensive than the UFO. You can use 9v batteries with them, but I prefer using AA's. However, I think those angel eyes may have whiter light than the UFO.


I used a UV Filter to attach my ringlight becouse I wanted to keep the front thread to be able to use my Raynox macro lenses. You may want to keep that in mind if you plan on using close up lenses with your light.
 Whoa, weird, I didn't see the intro last time, I remembered it seemed weird because you jumped right into it. I was viewing all steps. Must have been some bug.
I like your design a lot. How does the light compare to an external flash for you? I feel like LEDs that I have tried haven't really been bright enough but the uniformity of the light is very nice when you use the LED ring flash... Its a toss up. I guess I'll just build one haha. Thanks for the inspiration!
Joe
Ruta9 (author)  joejoerowley4 years ago
Well, it's just like you said a flash (external or not) is way more powerful than the ringlight. Remember that you can use a flash to light up people 15ft away from the camera. Also flashes have the right light temperature.
On the other hand, when using flashes for macro photography you are likely to get harsh shadows and blown out highlights
This ringlight is not powerfull enough for taking pictures of a subject that's more than 2ft away from the camera, but for macro is really nice.
The light is even and soft, you almost don't get any shadows at all.
Another problem with these ringlights is that you may not get the proper light temperature, but you can solve that by tweaking your white balance.
Sure, it's not perfect, but for 10 bucks I can't complain.
Phil B4 years ago
You made a brief comment about color shift and linked a partial solution to insuring full power to the LEDs.  Someone did a very similar Instructable a number of months back.  He also had problems with color shift.  This would be really great if the color shift problem could be fully solved without too much trouble.  Color shift is not a problem if the photos are to be black & white, but it is a problem with color.
Ruta9 (author)  Phil B4 years ago
I guess these cheap chinese camping lights do not have a really strict quality control when it comes to light temperature. After all, that's not what they're designed for. You may get a lamp with all white LEDs or you may get a lamp with some blueish ones like I did, some peopple may get yellower lights, I don't know.
Keep in mind you get what you pay for, I checked on ebay and this exact UFO now sells for $4 including shipping, I payed $7 about a month ago. A proper 48 LED 5600K ringlight costs about $50-60.
Although I don't think that color shift should be too much of a problem, if you know beforehand what you are dealing with .
The cheapest most effective solution that I think of is to set your White Balance to a setting that gives you the better results according to the specific camping light that you got. If your camera supports Custom WB set it to your own ringlight. If you have a camera that can shoot RAW files, you can set your WB later on your computer.
Phil B Ruta94 years ago
Thank you for the detailed response. I once saw a flashlight for pilots that used three LEDs of different colors to get white light.  It would be interesting to experiment with red, green, and blue LEDs in combination to get white, but buying individual LEDs would surely be more expensive.
Ruta9 (author)  Phil B4 years ago
That could be a really interesting project, but remember that you will be buying 3 different kinds of LEDs and if any of those 3 colors is a little off  you're still not getting white light as a result.
laxap4 years ago
Very nice!
thom_vee4 years ago
This is fantastic, you have made my idea into a fantastic , professional looking ring light. very well done, full marks for the diffuser and the battery compartment!