Ray Flash ring flash adapter review: first impression

Jan 04 2010
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Ray Flash for Canon 580EX II with 7D/5D/50D/40D/30D/20D/10D
Ray Flash for Canon 580EX II with Canon 1V/1Ds/1D
Ray Flash for Canon 580EX II with Digital Rebel Series
Ray Flash for Nikon SB900 with D300/D200/D90/D80/D70/D50/D40
Ray Flash for Nikon SB800 with D300/D200/D70/D80/D50/D40
Ray Flash for Canon 580EX with 5D/40D/30D/20D/10D
Content

Overview

Ray Flash ring flash adapter is a flash light modifier that turns your flash gun into a ring flash. It is intended to be used with a flash mounted on camera. Ray Flash simply slides onto a flash head. The flash light passes through the internal "light channels" of the adapter and reflects around the camera lens. This creates a unique look specific to ring flashes often used in fashion photography.

Since Ray Flash is merely a reflector, it does not emit light by itself. And changing the quality of light always comes at a price of light loss and reduced shooting range. The design of Ray Flash is quite complex, however, and it does an impressive job of loosing just one stop of light.

Another great benefit of being an adapter to a modern flash is to be able to work with TTL systems. As many other flash light modifiers, Ray Flash does not affect the TTL metering, so users can enjoy the convenience of the modern technologies.

Also, it's worth mentioning that Ray Flash is color neutral and does not changes white balance.

Ray Flash ring flash adapter Ray Flash ring flash adapter: attachment
Ray Flash ring flash adapter: logo Ray Flash ring flash adapter: on camera

Build

Ray Flash adapters are made to fit a particular flash gun as well as a particular camera body. At the moment, ExpoImaging offers 10 different flavors of this light modifier. Our version is made to fit Canon 580EX II flash and Canon 50D camera body (it also fits similarly sized 40D, 30D, etc.).

The quality of Ray Flash appears to be very good. It should be able to withstand normal wear and a reasonable amount of workload.

The body is all-plastic and, therefore, lightweight. (The unit weights around a pound.) It is slim and portable (compared to ring flashes). It should not be a problem to carry it around in a gear bag.

Attaching and aligning

Attaching Ray Flash to a flash is a breeze. The adapter features a lock to prevent the adapter from sliding off. Since Canon 580EX II flash head has rubber sides, our version of Ray Flash fits quite snugly, and the locking is not even necessary. But, of course, it's better to always use the lock for your own peace of mind.

For the best results, the ring flash has to be perpendicular to the lens axis. With Ray Flash adapter, this may not be the case depending on the design of the flash it's used with. To address this issue, two wedges are included with the product to be used to improve the alignment. With our Canon 580EX II, the adapter is not perfectly aligned with the lens plane, but we decided not to use the wedges since it's not that critical in our case.

Ray Flash ring flash adapter: misalignment

As you can from in the images below, Ray Flash is very well centered when shooting in landscape camera orientation.

Ray Flash ring flash adapter: well centered

Due to some wobbliness of many flash heads, Ray Flash can get off center when shooting in the portrait mode. If you want to avoid that, it might be a good idea to hold the adapter with the same hand you hold the lens, while taking a shot. This lets you center the lens within the ring and reduce the stress on the flash head.

Ray Flash ring flash adapter: off center Ray Flash ring flash adapter: holding to center

Light and samples

We have to mention that even though Ray Flash does a great job in distributing light around the lens, the light is not completely even. The image below shows that the side closer to the flash head emits more light than the opposite side.

Ray Flash ring flash adapter: fired, light is not even

Ray Flash works great for macro photography. It can be also useful in food and product photography (on its own or as a part of multi-light setup). Below is a couple of examples where the adapter was used as the only source of light.

Ray Flash ring flash adapter: food photography example, single light source Ray Flash ring flash adapter: macro example, single light source

When shooting portraits, Ray Flash, like other ring lights, produces images with practically no shadows on model's face. Shadows on the background follow the contour of the subject, which is another reason why ring flashes are often used for.

Ring lights produce a unique ring-shaped catchlight in the eyes of the subject. This type of catchlight can be very appealing to some people while others find it unnatural and try to avoid it. The following three images are headshots taken with Ray Flash as the only source of light. The camera was position from 2 to 4 feet from the subject.

Ray Flash ring flash adapter: close range portrait example, Vampire outfit
Ray Flash ring flash adapter: close range portrait example, Jamaican outfit Ray Flash ring flash adapter: close range portrait example, Pirate outfit

Conclusion

Ray Flash ring flash adapter is an exciting tool that gives you a unique look in portraits, works great as a shadowless fill light, and can be useful in macro and tabletop photography. It is less expensive (currently around $200) than most of the ring flashes on the market. So, if you don't need a ring flash as a main photographing tool, Ray Flash can be worth a try. It gives you all the benefits of the ring type of light without investing too much money.

If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.





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