Most helpful critical review
157 of 173 people found the following review helpful
I really wanted to love this device...but...
on August 17, 2011
I have been wanting a Macro Ring Flash LED Light for macro shooting for a long time. Unfortunately, my priority is always saving up for glass and for strobist related flash, as glass is my priority, I have decided to go the budget route... And the same goes for the Macro ring flash.
At $36-$40, you can't really complain (note: The two shown on Amazon are the same product)...but here is my experience which varies from others...
I. UNBOXING and INSTALLING
Unboxing the Macro Ring Flash, the cool thing is that you get the battery pack/AC cord, ring light and 5 adapters for your lenses (49 mm, 52 mm, 55 mm, 58 mm, 62 mm and 67 mm). Put two double AA Eneloops in, connected the 55 mm adapter ring to Ring Light (backside is magnetic) and then connected it to my Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AT-X M100 AF Pro D Macro lens (note: tried this light with lens on extension tube and without extension tube).
Connected the battery back to my on-camera shoe and plugged in the ring light to the battery pack.
Unlike the image which shows the Neewer name, mine didn't show Neewer anywhere on the ring light. So, be careful when you look online as the device is probably made in China and released in the US via rebranded names. Same product, different name...but get the lowest price that you can find if possible.
As for the durability, the battery pack feels a bit flimsy, so be careful when removing the battery lid and not dropping the device. It's plastic with the exception of the adapters and the magnetic backing of the ring light.
II. OUTDOOR TEST
I take a lot of pictures of wasps, butterflies, skippers and with my Macro lens...and even with the extension tube, I can get into a flower bush, inside the leaves with no problem. With the ring light, you can't. You have to get close to an insect that is really close up and typically insects like skippers will stay in one place but with this big light coming on them, they didn't want to stay at all.
It took some patience but I was able to get some shots but I'm going to be truthful to you. I've done much better with on and off-camera flash on insects versus the Macro Ring Light. Perhaps I needed to be more patient but having taken pictures of insects via macro, the size of getting into certain areas to take pictures to the light really scaring off the insects, really didn't do much for insect shooting.
III. INDOOR TEST
Next up, was close up on food. I made a killer breakfast burrito today and took pictures with on and off camera flash but when I tried with the ring flash, I felt the light wasn't powerful enough. It was a bit on the darker side and not vibrant, it looked dull. Granted, you can always fix with Photoshop, Lightroom,etc. but I guess it worked, but required more post-processing to make things look right.
I then took pictures of close-ups of my dogs and the good news was that I could take nice closeups of my dogs (which hate being around my Flash). So, that's a plus.
I then started to shoot a few Gundam mecha figures. And the light managed to really work nicely with my Macro lens via close up of the toys. It works better if you are very closeup, whereas food, you want the bit of distance to get the textures of the food (and not get food or sauce on your ring light). But this worked well and another plus.
It is important to remind people that this is a ring light...not a ring flash. Ring flash cost several hundred dollars, this one is under $50 and are lights that provide a little lighting but you really have no control on the light levels. And those who really want to get great Macro shots and need that control, this device is not for you.
But you also have to consider what you are shooting. For me, Macro insect shots require me being stealthy and getting it in tight spaces, this device will not allow that and you will end up scaring the insect. And because the light is on constantly, unlike a flash which goes off when you press a button, many insects are not going to like it. Even the more patient insects.
But there are good uses for this ring flash, for those who want to experiment on Macro for indoor use, especially inanimate objects, this works great. Food shots, not so much although you can get around it through post-processing ala PhotoShop, Lightroom, etc.
But if you feel you are the type who can plunk down a few several hundred dollars on a ring flash or don't mind saving for one...then save for one. But if you are like me and divert budget towards the glass than other accessories, then yeah...impulse buy will lead you to this really great priced ring light.
But as much as I really wanted to love this device... I don't know if it will play a big part in my photography. Strobist can probably get by with a single flash as well on a light stand and work better than this device. But if you are on a budget and have no desire of purchasing an external flash, light stands, flash bracket, etc., then this device may suit you.