Rodney Campbell's Blog

Aputure Amaran Halo LED Ring Flash…

by on Jun.13, 2012, under Life, Photography

I’d been thinking of investing in some sort of ring flash unit primarily for macro photography for some time but the cost (and size) of dedicated ring flashes (like the Orbis Ring Flash) or macro flash units (like the Nikon R1C1 system) is prohibitively high (the former is more than AUD$250 the later is more than AUD$700).

I’d also seen some ring flash adaptors – which connect to your existing hot shoe flash and have a reflective area which brings the light down and around your lens. These units are relatively cheap but you have to purchase an exact unit for your camera, flash and lens combination (so that the lengths all line up) and frankly they look pretty flimsy and prone to destruction.

LED technology has been increasing in sophistication and capability in leaps and bounds of late, and I had been seeing a number of LED based ring macro light units appear and yesterday decided to take the plunge and give one a try.

I found a number of essentially similar contenders all around the same price (roughly AUD$30 to $50) including the NEEWER 48 LED Ring Light, Meike LED Macro Ring Flash FC100, Yongnuo MR-58 LED Macro Ring Flash and the one I purchased (for under $35 delivered on eBay) the Aputure Amaran Halo LED Ring Flash.

All of these units have essentially the same features:

– constant LED light source with an effective range of about 5cm to 150cm with a guide number of GN15
– LEDs in a ring to go around the front of the lens with adapter rings to suit various front filter thread sizes (to attach to the lens)
– a battery pack and controller unit to hold 2 or 4 AA batteries
– adjustable settings – like variable brightness, all on, left side only or right side only

The reason I chose the Aputure Amaran Halo unit over the others is:

– not all the units were large enough and had adapter rings all the way up to 77mm (some had as few as four rings only up to 67mm – the Aputure unit has 8 rings up to 77mm)
– this unit has a flash (burst) mode which is twice as bright as the continuous light mode for some extra power
– it can also act as a focus assist light with half shutter press

The following video gives a very good quick overview of the unit:

However what the on paper specs and the video doesn’t show or tell you is how effective the light is – in comparison to say using a dedicated flash unit through a diffuser (what I currently use for handheld in the field macro photography) or a dedicated ring flash unit.

When I receive mine (in a couple of weeks?) and have a chance to play I’ll post again on some relative performance figures (e.g. it adds an extra n stops of light at a certain subject distance).

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3 Comments for this entry

  • Ken

    Looks interesting Rodney, it’s a manual set-up so I might get one for the XP1 and see how it goes. At 60 LEDs it is about the biggest (in terms or LEDs) in the price range but the LED mount seems reasonably compact as the batteries are in the hot shoe unit. Thanks for sharing, including the real world examples.

  • Michael

    Hi, did you find out how effective the light was ?

  • Rodney.Campbell

    The light is OK and it’s obviously more effective up close however it doesn’t compete with flash for instance which is much brighter. That said it is a constant light source which does help regardless (e.g. with focusing or even just seeing what you’re photographing). So it’s not a magic bullet but still for the 30 odd dollars it costs it’s still a good investment.

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