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Ring Light/Flash?


Wren
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I'm curious about whether anyone has experimented with a ring light to take photos of miniatures? I've got a small LED lamp I've been using to light the mini from the front (in addition to lights to the side and top shining through a tent). Usually it works fairly well, but sometimes figures have overhangs that cast shadows that it's hard to position the light to eliminate. I thought a ring light might work better, but it's equally possible it's too harsh of light?

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Ring lights work well. And they're almost necessary if you're using a short macro lens.

 

The one I use is a Ray Flash adapter, which press-fits onto my speedlight head, but there are other choices.

 

You'll find that the light from a ring light is very, very flat. This will show of pretty nearly only the paint (it will kill nearly all shadows), which can be good and/or bad.

 

A dedicated ring flash is expensive, but the adapters are more reasonable (if you already have a speedlight).

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I don't know what a speedlight is, so I'm guessing I don't have one. ;-> I'm also having trouble figuring out if there's a ring light that will fit a Sony NEX-F3. The whole area of photography remains pretty arcane and mystical to me. I've learned enough simple incantations to get done what I need to, and that's about it. Flat lighting that illuminates the painting with few natural shadows is pretty much what I want.

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A speedlight is a hot-shoe flash (not to be confused with a pop-up flash): Speedlights

 

But it looks like that camera doesn't have a real hot shoe anyway (per DPReview).

 

You can get very similar lighting effects (as long as you can shoot from at least a few inches back from the subject) with what's called "copy stand lighting" -- lighting equally from both sides in front-ish of the subject.

 

You can also use diffusion material (fairly similar to those clear matt-finished report covers -- which can be used as field expedients) and nearly any matched lights. Just cut a hole in the diffusion material for the lens and shine the lights through the diffuser onto the subject. You'll get the same sort of flat light that you would get from a ring light.

 

If you're still interested in the subject in February, remind me right before Genghis Con and I should be able to bring in my ring light for you to try.

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Sunpak makes a set of ring LEDs that are on an articulated pole that will fit in a standard flash shoe or attach to a a tripod.  These put out no where near as much power as a ring flash.  But they would probably help.  The list price is about $75 so its a nice cheap option for you.

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