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DIY Ringflash For Cheap!

Posted in Blog, Tutorials | 2 comments

The reviews of my top 5 favorite ring flashes seem to be my most popular posts. Like crazy popular. But they can be a bit expensive if you are just an enthusiast and aren’t going to be getting paid big bucks for your fashion shots. SO what to do if you have stupid weekly expenses like groceries, rent, water etc etc. Have no fear, the overly thrifty camera man is here!!! (patent pending)

Here is a ringflash that I built at home in about 30 minutes on a budget of…wait for it…still waiting for it…hold on I lost the receipt…ah, here it is…$6.50. No joke. And most of that was for a tin of Betty Crocker cake frosting which wasn’t bought for this project. In fact I only bought one thing specifically for this project, the rest I found around the house. So what do you need? Check it.

  • Round roasting pans. Deep and wide is better, but not too deep because if it’s deeper than your lens then it’s not going to work.
  • Some foil
  • Stanley knife or some other really sharp knife
  • Hot glue gun
  • An external flash. This one wasn’t counted in the cost of the ringflash because a) I already had it and b) It’s not getting fixed to the ringflash so it’s still useful for everything else.
  • Disposable plastic tablecloth. This one isn’t pictured because I had originally planned to use baking paper over the front, but it doesn’t work. You can’t hot glue it and you can’t use tape because it’s designed to not let things stick to it (duh)

So let’s get started. Actually, just before we get started, an apology. I took the first picture planning on making this a tutorial, then I forget to take any progress photos until it was just about done. My bad.

So getting started, find something cylindrical that will fit over your lens, I wanted to use a can but couldn’t find one so I went with a plastic tin of Betty Crocker frosting. Cut the base out so you can see through it.

Put whatever you’re using in the middle of your round roasting pan and trace around it. Cut that out. Now I got mine from Woolworths and it came in a two-pack for $1.40. I used both and hot glued them together because it gives it a bit more strength.
So by this point you should have a roasting tin with a hole in the middle and a can without a base. Glue them together. You can tell it’s coming together now eh?

If you used a can then you don’t need to do this step, but I didn’t so wrap your cake icing tin with foil and glue it in place so it’s nice and shiny.

Next step: cut a rectangular shape out of the side of your roasting pan. This hole should be about the same width of your flash.

Now make a tube of foil that wraps around the top of your flash. The thicker the more durable it will be. I also used tape around the outside so it’s extra durable, because let’s face it; foil is easy to punch through.

Join the foil tube to your roasting pan using tape. The easiest way to do this is to slide it into the hole, then cut it at the corners. Fold the sides back and tape it in place. Don’t worry, this is about where I started taking pictures again.

If you leave it here, then most of the light is going to go into your tin and bounce right out, and that’s not what you want. You want the light to go into the tin and bounce around until it’s made a complete circle, so now you need to put something over the front to diffuse the light and help with the bouncing. Enter the tablecloth.

This stuff is super useful when it comes to diffusing light, but it’s a little thin so I like to double it up. Cut out a circle of tablecloth that’s wider than your roasting pan. Put a cut in every few inches because when you fold it over it’ll be a better fit and easier to tape in place. Oh right, tape it in place!

Now that it looks like this,

Cut the middle bit like a pizza (put at least 6 cuts in) and tape that to the inside of your can or in my case, tin of frosting.

And your done!!! When it’s fixed to your camera it should look something like this. (caution, it’s not pretty and does not look professional)

Now because it’s only $6.50 there are drawbacks. For example you won’t be able to zoom in or out once it’s fixed on the lens, so pick your focal length before you put it on. Also manual focusing can be hard. And there isn’t a whole lot of room for your hand. And if it’s too deep and you’re using a wide angle lens then there is a good chance you’ll get a roasting pan vignette in your shots, but hey, if it bothers you then go buy a real one! Another thing is that since the light is going to be bouncing around all this foil and being diffused it’s not going t be as powerful, so use your flash in manual mode, not TTL. Also remember with ringflashes that you are just lighting what’s in front of you, if you want a properly exposed background then you’ll need to light it with another light source.

As for results I haven’t really take any pictures with it yet. I took one of Violet when she wasn’t expecting it (she hates flashes) and you can see the perfect ring in her eye.


Here’s one of her makeup and as you can see everything is nicely lit without being harsh at all.

Since I haven’t staged a picture to use with the ringflash yet, enjoy this video from Matthew Jordan Smith on one of his infamous Tyra shots.

*EDIT*

I finally got around to taking some shots with the ringlight, I just started taking photo after photo and before I knew it, I had made a little stop motion video. Enjoy!

2 Comments

  1. awesome!!!! thank you

  2. No problem! Hope it serves you well!

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