I have an action-cam (SJCAM SJ4000) and always wanted to find a better and easy way to film stuff close-up. This same trick applies to a GoPro or any number of small action-cams now available. Most of these cameras have trouble focusing close-up, and even though you can buy special "conversion" lenses for these cameras, they only fit certain models. Not all cameras allow you to attach lenses easily.
Macro Magnifying Ring Light
In this instructable, I show you a quick and easy way to get better close-up focus and lightning with your GoPro or SJCAM (or other action-cam) video camera with easy to find inexpensive items! Find the following items on eBay or at another online shop for under $10 total (or you may already have it at home).
Creates A Stage As Well
You can use the power-bank and the flexible ring light to form a "stage" area and even balance the action-cam on top! See the photos to see how you can do this and follow the steps in this instructable.
Please watch the video in the last step of the Instructable!
Step 1: Gathering Parts
Magnifying flexible LED light for laptop
Search eBay for "magnifying flexible LED light laptop" and you will find dozens of listings for these useful but incredibly cheap devices. They should be a few dollars ($3-4) with shipping included! See photo for the type you should get.
Portable phone power bank
You probably have this already. Just get a cheap USB power bank that allows you to plug in a standard USB plug. All you will need to do is simply plug the ring light in to the power bank to make it work. Easy! A bigger one is better as it will also provide a "stage" and weigh down the light so it doesn't tip over.
Plug your light into the USB output of the power-bank and turn on your power-bank and light. You should get a bright light and you can now position the light in a way to allow you to balance your camera. If you are worried, use some elastics to attach the camera. Also make sure the camera is over the middle of the ring light where the magnifying glass has the least distortion.
Step 2: Fine-Tuning and Testing
Testing The Setup
Here I have balanced the camera on the ring-light and created the proper spacing to get the best focus possible. You can see that I've placed a penny to test out the focus. You will have to adjust the zoom factor on your camera and also the vertical spacing by flexing the arm of the ring-light, as there is a narrow focus range. If you are too close or too far, the stage and item you are trying to film will not be in focus.
Step 3: More Samples
Zooming and Focus
As you can see in the photos, I've placed a penny on the "stage" made by the power-bank. I can zoom in and focus by moving the ring-light and adjusting the zoom factor on the action camera. The writing on the stage helps with focusing. If you don't have this, just use a piece of paper or dollar bill or other thin object with fine markings so that you can see if things are in focus.
On the last step, I've also made a video showing me using the camera and how an electronic circuit board looks.
Step 4: Video Tests
Watch the 2 videos linked above to see how I assemble the light and power bank, then hold it in front of the camera and test it on some very tiny electronic circuit board, a penny, a hockey stamp, and various other objects. Enjoy and please rate the YouTube videos!
Video 1:First test and assembly
Video 2:More testing on familiar objects
Now go out and make videos of Insects, electronics, flowers, and anything else that you can imagine! Take your macro ring-light action-cam in to the field by gluing it (or using magnets or velcro) to the front of your action-cam, and carry it around by holding the power-bank!