My fiance surprised me with a Nikon DSLR two years ago for Christmas, as I've learned how to use it, I expressed to him I'd always been interested in macro photography. This year for Christmas he got me an assortment of magnifying lenses and different flashes. He had done so much research he knew that I would need some type of light ring to provide bright, but soft light. After ordering a few kits for me to play with, I ended up frustrated at the complexity and lack of versatility that the kits were giving me, and they weren't cheap or compact like I wanted.
So after studying Adafruits NeoPixel Ring (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:289846), I decided to try changing it to what I wanted and needed from my light ring.
I told my fiance I wanted to design a unit that most people could easily assemble and required no programming. After a few prototypes we mocked up and a little trial an error, we ended up with a unit that costs under $50, gives you multiple color options, is basically plug-n-play, and gives you just as good of photos as an expensive professional unit. This set up is so versatile, it can be used around the lens or as a separate light source. The remote allows you to quickly and easily change the color of your lighting without having to reprogram the light. And since it's LED, it never gets hot and lasts for hours on one charge.
We are still refining and experimenting with a few things, but we'd love to share our design with the world so we can see what you do with it. If you like this Instructable please leave us some love and don't forget to vote for us!
Step 1: 3D Printing Files
You can find the 3D file for free download over on my friends Thingiverse,
You will need to make sure to find the right boot for your camera brand. Since mine is a Nikon (also works on Canon), it has a boot adapter that looks like the first picture, which is included in my download, but you will have to find or design a boot for your brand if its different. We hope to update with a boot to fit a Sony soon. All of the parts but the ring holder and diffuser can be printed in whatever color you'd like and from any material you'd like. Mine are in black ABS, my preferred material. The ring that holds the light needs to be opaque black to direct all of the light forward. The diffuser ring needs to be clear ABS or PLA, I prefer ABS.
I also included some of my first successful prototype in pink.
Step 2: Assembly
Clean the rafts and any support material off your prints, be careful not to break the hinges. I found the best way to clean the support material from the hinges was to use a drill with a 3mm drill bit on the lowest torque setting.
Once you get the whole thing cleaned up and sanded(if needed), you can assemble it like shown with 2 - 3mm x 25mm screws and 2 - 3mm nuts. The rest of the pieces fit together, the adjustable arm slides in to the larger case.
Step 3: Electronics
The purchase list is pretty small for this and it also allows for you to purchase bigger a bigger diameter ring if you want. Just remember to modify the 3D file to accept a larger diameter.
The light ring. Since the cheapest/highest quality version I could find was technically meant for headlights, you get four light rings.
USB DC 5V to 12V Step up Converter Power Supply Charge Cable DC 2.1x5.5mm Jack
USB Power Bank - Needs to have at least a 1mA output or the white lights will flicker
Once you have all the pieces its just as simple as plug it in and try it. If you end up getting anything plugged in backwards, just unplug flip over and try again. Thread the light ring cable thru the adjustable arm and place the driver box inside the case with the sensor eye sticking thru the top and the power port up against the back end where the hole is. Connect the USB cable to the driver box and to your power supply and you're good to go.
Step 4: Final Assembly and Setup
Once you get it all plugged in and lighting up you can start playing around with the different color options and whether you want it diffused or not. The LED's are super bright, they will illuminate parts of a room and can add the same effect as a color filter over a traditional light with less effort and expense. I love the versatility it offers with being able easily change the color options to highlight certain aspects or to add a tone to a section of film, like a dream sequence.
Step 5: Ways to Modify
The kits that I got allows for four lights driven by one control unit. I've been looking at hooking up the remaining light rings and using them as spot lighting. They would probably need diffusers as well to help soften the high points, but you could pretty effectively stage an area to do beauty photos, or makeup tutorials for Youtube. You could also stage an area to jewelry photography and really highlight the sparkle. Just having the single light on my camera really highlighted the sparkle in my engagement ring without washing out the details.
If you have any questions, drop them below and I'll do my best to help you. If you've found this helpful, please hit the love button. I want everyone that's frustrated by build your own light kits to have access to an easy option to get their lighting needs meet.