Lighting a scene is an important part of taking a picture, and certain pictures require a specific kind of lighting. That’s where ring flash units come in, erasing shadows on the face and making the background look darker. Ring flash units do a great job of giving a soft illumination to the center of the photo, and creating a contrasting dark halo outside of them, making them perfect for portrait headshots. Such standalone devices can cost thousands, but Ray Flash recently released an affordable ring flash adapter for this niche role, one that, at $200, channels light from a regular flash unit into a ring around the lens.
Because the Ray Flash Ring Flash adapter does not have any electronics itself, it is a compact, lightweight device that uses a regular flash as a light source. This use of standard flash means that through-the-lens technology still works. When compared with an Orbis model in a similar price range, the Ray Flash adapter was found to have much better light propagation. For passive adapters like this one, loss of light can be a problem, however, the Ray Flash preserves about 90% of what it channels from the hot shoe flash. The Ray Flash did not seem to significantly alter the white balance of photos either. Additionally, installation did not pose a challenge as it simply slips on, making it an easy to use device for when you need it, rather than a permanent fixture on your camera.
The first thing to notice about the Ray Flash adapter is that once installed, at 14 ounces, it does add a bit of bulk to your camera, but this is easy to overlook. What may not get overlooked is the certain turning of heads you will get using it in public. The construction is of slim yet sturdy plastic, however, the device does not fold up, making it perhaps harder to carry around than it needs to be. On the same note, taking the adapter off was a bigger challenge than putting it on. Some testing of the device shows that its lighting was not completely uniform over the entire ring, which, while expected for an adapter like this, can put undesirable dark spots in photos. On occasion this will mean having to retake a photo for the flash to distribute properly. Compatibility is not necessarily a drawback of this device, but you may find yourself left out if you do not use caution in seeing if this adapter fits with your body and lens. Their website will allow you to quickly check this here: http://www.ray-flash.com/rayflash/compatibility.php. The inner diameter of the unit is a bit over 4 inches, which should fit most lenses without issue.
Negatives aside, the many features of this product easily make it desirable at a price of $200, when compared to the investment of professional units.
Bill Green is an engineering student and freelancer for Photo.net. The Photo.net staff offers hundreds of camera and lens reviews by professional photographers. A comprehensive review of the Ray Flash Ring Flash Adapter can be found here:http://photo.net/reviews/rayflash-ringflash-adapter-review