Review: Ray Flash (Turns Your Hot Shoe Flash Into a “Ring Flash”)
I don’t know if you’ll remember back a few months, when I asked for any feedback from my readers on a ring flash adapter made in UK, that connects to your existing hot-shoe flash to give you a ring flash look without buying a heavy/expensive ring flash?
At the time it wasn’t available in the US, and I was asking if anybody had any experience with it, because I was interesting in playing around with ring flash, as it become very popular with fashion photographers, and now you see that broad flat lighting look popping up everywhere (and it’s especially good for Macro photography).
Anyway, one day I’m sitting in our conference room after a meeting had just wrapped up and I look over in Larry Becker’s office, and I see Larry taking a shot with a ring flash. I shot right in there with the usual, “Hey, man! Where’d you get that?” and as it turns out, it’s that UK ring flash adapter I had seen months earlier, but now it’s available in the US from ExpoImaging (the people that make Expo Disc), and the US version is called the Ray Flash (I know, the name kinda…well..you know).
Well, last week Larry told me a local photographer named David Maynard (a really good photographer, by the way) who has become something of an evangelist of this ring flash adapter, and offered to stop by and give us a live demo (he even brought a professional model along with him), so we finally got an hour to play with it, and I have to tell you—I was very impressed.
I took the shots you see above (totally un-retouched—just an exposure balance in Lightroom), during that demo session with David (click on it for a larger view) using a Nikon D300 with an SB-800 on top, mounted on the hot shoe, with the Ray Flash ring flash adapter attached (it actually just slides right over the top of your flash head, and around your lens).
I’m no expert at ring flash at this point, but you can see the flat, broad light it puts out, along with that classic “ring flash” halo that you see so often.
Three things I really liked about it:
- It’s very light (considerably lighter than any ring flash I’ve never held, by a long shot).
- It’s very easy to use; you pretty much just glide it over your lens, snap your flash head into place, and it’s ready to go (it has no on/off switch, and it’s just redistributing the light from your flash head.
- Of course the big thing is; the price. It’s only $299, which is pretty darn cheap for the ring flash effect it creates.
Three minor things I didn’t like:
- If you’re using a Nikon flash, it comes with a little wedge you have to insert to keep the ring flash level.
- It’s so lightweight, it feels a little flimsy, but not nearly as flimsy as some of the cheaper ring flashes I’ve held, so it’s only a minor gripe, but it is something you’ll notice.
- You do lose about a full stop of light from your flash, so you have to run it a little hotter (use more flash power) than normal, so your batteries won’t last quite as long, but again; not a big deal, but just so you know; you’re going to lose a stop.
Would I recommend the Ray Flash? Well, I’m buying one myself. The minor things are too minor to be deal-killers, and the advantages (great price, lightweight, small size) make it pretty much a no-brainer for anyone who wants to get a ring flash look, without the ring flash price and weight.
Dave Cross was with me during the demo shoot that day, and he did a short video showing the flash itself and how it attaches to the camera (including the wedge issue for Nikon users), and you can watch it right on Dave’s site, right here.
For more info on the Ray Flash direct from ExpoImaging, click here.