MaticKos Photography

DIY Ringlight

Ringlight is one of those modifies that are cool to have, but have a very limited use. Since I've been researching LEDs for a few months now (that's for another project, more about that later) and didn't want to spend a few hundred euros for one, I thought it would be a fun diy project for the pet500 studio. So I gave it a go..

There are many designs and instruction videos on the net, so I won't go into full details. Basically I wanted to use a led strip (since it's easy to work with), shaped into a circle, fixed onto a board with a holder and that's that. Dimmer was an option, but most led strips aren't that powerful to begin with so that wasn't a priority (I did try it, two actually, but like said, it's not really necessary).

First thing was getting the right board. I thought about plastic, cardboard and wood. Since this are led strips they don't generate much heat. A guy at the local hardware store showed me a packaging board for floor tiles. It's basically a mixture of wood and paper fibers, with fine structure so it's easy to cut and drill into. The weight is somewhere between wood and plastic, but it's only 5mm thing and very strong. Great find, cost = 0€ (actually I gave him 10€ for a six-pack, since I plan on getting some more boards from him 🙂 )

With the board acquired the first thing was to cut it into a donut. Regular jigsaw will do the job fine. After cutting I panted the back side with black and front side with white.


Next step was marking the layout for the leds. I printed out a line design with 7.5 degree rotation and taped it on the board. I used a aluminum strip with a hole in the center for a ruler.


Next came the leds. I used 5m 5630 white led strip cut into 10cm or 6 leds sections. Taped onto the board I wired them in parallel. So if one goes the rest will still work. (Disclamer: don't play with electricity, get someone who knows what he's doing!)


And that's basically that..
Did a test from a distance, fuse didn't blow, everything works 🙂


Since this was my first diy project with leds I used a cheap led strip from ebay. 300 5630 pure white led, with no CRI rating. Total cost with power adapter was around 15euros. I plan to add another 5m strip to get an extra f-stop from it.

More interesting details (for photographers I mean): I'm getting about f2 1/100 ISO200 at 1m distance. With another line of leds I'll get f2.8, but then I'll probably be adding a dimmer. Shallow dof is a must with ringlight imho 🙂

As for color and cri.. These are cheap leds from ebay. The color reproduction is not perfect, but far from terrible or what I thought I'll be getting. With some postprocessing you can hardly see the difference compared to regular pro studio lights. I will be making another video led ringlight, with a lot more powerful Cree or Yuji leds with 95CRI index, but for photography this thing came out great.


Some sample color shots (click for bigger version):











ELINCHROM, min power, AWB


RIGHTLIGHT, WB correction in lightroom, white picker only


RINGLIGHT & ELINCHROM compared.. hard to do I know, different shadows, different dof, but focus on color only..


Not bad.. This is Lightroom only, with some more Photoshop fixing the match would be even better. So if you need "true" color you can almost get it. But then again, when do you publish true color photos, with no toning, effects, textures,..? I know I don't, except with product shots, but there we don't use ringhlight 🙂

So there you have it - diy LED ringlight.

spela(cropped, click for full size)

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