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
- dremel tool with cut off wheel and sanding drum
- glue gun
- small heat shrink tubing
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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!!!
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"!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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
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