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

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Step 1:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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...

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    80 Discussions


    3 years ago

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

    This is the link If you are interested


    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)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    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


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Step 7

    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.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    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... ;)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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


    9 years ago on Step 8

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


    9 years ago on Step 5

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


    9 years ago on Step 1

    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


    10 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    2 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    9 years ago on Step 8

     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.