DSLR Ring Light




Introduction: DSLR Ring Light

Ring lights or flashes are a good addition to a photographer's bag. They allow the light hitting your subject to come from all around the lens, giving you smooth even illumination without shadows. They also give your human subjects desirable ring-shaped catch lights in their eyes. The downside is that they are typically expensive. Here I offer you a cheap DIY solution.

Step 1: Materials

-Halo Ring Lamp - this is typically used in cars and will be 12v DC

-3D printer (optional but helpful)

-9v battery (you could go as high as 12 but I found this blindingly bright)

-9v battery connector wire

-hot glue

-velcro (only needed if you dont use a 3d printer)

-lens hood (only needed if you dont use a 3d printer)

Step 2: Design

My first step was to design and print a plastic ring that would thread onto my lens in the place where my lens hood would usually go. I left a notch for the wires. My backup plan if I couldn't get that to work was to press-fit and glue the halo light into the lens hood I already had, and drill a hole in the side. This is a great option for anyone who doesn't have a 3d printer.If you decide to go this route make sure you measure and select the diameter of the halo light you buy very carefully so it works with your lens.

Step 3: Fit

Once I successfully printed and tested that my ring would attach to the lens, I glued the halo light to it and attached a 9v battery connector to the wires coming off of it.

Step 4: Battery Holder

Once I was sure the light fit properly I downloaded a 9v battery holder design from thingiverse. Which you can find here.

I modified the design to allow me to clamp it in place underneath my camera using my tripod mount. (alternatively you can attach a piece of velcro under your camera body and to the battery and connect them that way.

Step 5: Light It Up!

When everything is plugged in, you will have a bright halo light for your dslr! You could easily modify this with a potentiometer to control the output of the light, and an on/off switch, which I will probably end up doing at some point.

If you found this useful please consider voting for me in the Photography Contest and the Lights Contest!

As always I welcome any comments or questions you may have.

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    28 Discussions

    Probably a dumb question but what are you connecting the wires with in those pics? Is it some kind of tape or a connector of some sort? And it looks like you connected red to red/black to white--is that right? (Not used to doing electrical hacks, hah--don't want anything to explode ;).)

    2 replies

    That's right, red to red and black to white. Yours may or may not come with different colors, but in this case its perfectly ok to just try it out. If nothing happens switch them the other way around. You wont break anything! In those pictures the ring portion had a white connector and the 9v adapter had 2 stiff metal wires which fit nicely into the connector. If you end up with something different you can cut the ends off, place some heat shrink tubing, and solder them together. Let me know if you have any other questions and please post a pic once you're done!

    Great! Thanks for the fast response, I really appreciate it. Supplies are en route, so hopefully I'll be posting pictures later this week. :)


    1 year ago

    If you don't have a 3D printer you can go to most camera shops or even a pawn shop and buy used lens hoods cheap. Just make sure you know the correct diameter of your lens.
    Also be sure to adjust your white balance for the LED light.

    3 replies

    Do the manufacturers publish equivalent color temperature (Kelvin) values for these rings? My concern is that since these are white LED devices, they work by having a blue to near-UV LED die excite a layer of phosphors coating it Most of the light coming from the device is fluorescence from the phosphors. This means that it produces a non-continuum spectrum, like any fluorescent tube-- rather than anything like a black-body curve. This can make color balancing interesting, and can sometimes cause colors in the subject to look peculiar, even if you do have the color balance looking pretty normal. This can be an issue with flowers, because some floral pigments reflect or fluoresce on narrow bands and if the light is weak at a point in the spectrum where a pigment is especially reflective or emittive, or particularly weak or strong at the particular band at which a fluorescent pigment absorbs, it can cause particular colors to look darker or brighter than they would under, say, sunlight. (This can be useful or problematic, depending on the circumstances.)

    I have not built this... yet. I am also not familiar with the particular ring mentioned in the Instructables. I would experiment with building my own light source and possibly a neutral gel filter over the LED's I choose. A gel similar to what is used in stage lighting for good flesh tones.
    It's all a project?

    Thanks Rick, you raise a good point about the white balance with the LED!

    This looks great, excellent work!

    However I do not have a 3D printer - would you consider printing and selling a plastic ring like yours?

    5 replies

    I'm thinking that the easiest way to mount it would be to just epoxy the ring light onto a spare Cokin filter (or similar) lens flange.

    This is basically a flat (meaning 'planar', not 'matte') anodized aluminum disc with a hole in the middle and filter threads around the hole. It screws onto the lens, a slot on the back of the filter holder slides onto it, and filter(s) slide into slots on the front side of the holder.

    Check local libraries, several near me have them for public use.

    Wow, you are right. My library just got one. I would not have guessed that. Thank you very much.

    Or a plastic sheet that's cut wih an adjustable holesaw? ($5 on eBay)

    If you do not have a 3d printer I would definitely recommend buying a lens hood for the specific lens you will be using and attach the halo light to it. This way you can thread it on and off. In fact, since lens hoods can be put on backwards you might try attaching it backwards and then gluing your light directly to it. I have a photo of how I would do it with the lens hood in step 2. But the backwards method may be even better.

    good idea i'm putting 1 togheter but with 3 lightrings and a dimmer really like'd your updated battery holder do you mind share the 3D file for that?

    3 replies

    Sure, give me a day or two and I'll add the file to the instructable. For a more professional looking version I was thinking of making it so it hid the battery completely and I'd print it in black, but since black photographs so poorly I printed it in gray for this.

    big thanks one of my problems was how to fit the battery to cam , and your idea is excellent

    Sure, I'd be happy to post the files. I'll post the modified battery holder which should work on any camera, and ill also post the ring, which of course will fit a nikon 18-105mm kit lens.