This article is a follow up to my original post on the Aputure Amaran Halo LED Ring Flash.
I was expecting it to take a few weeks to arrive but I’d underestimated the efficiency of the HK sellers – ordered on the 11th and arrived on the 18th so it took under a week.
The unit comes in a nice packaging box and it feels well made and is simple to use.
I’ve fitted the 55mm adaptor ring to my Tamron 90mm 1:1 macro and as a simple test found an indoor subject in dim lighting to photograph (small coloured embroidered flower on a dark material background).
Test #1 (close macro)
I’ve focused at a certain distance – it’s about 7.5cm from the front of the LED ring in front of the lens to the subject (and about 30cm from the subject to the sensor plane in the camera) – and then set the camera to manual focus so I can reliably repeat the distance at different settings. This would probably be a typical distance for very close 1:1 macro work and down near the minimum focusing distance for this lens.
I first took an ambient exposure which was 2 seconds @ f/8 and ISO 100
Then with the LED at maximum continuous brightness the exposure was 1/100 @ f/8 and ISO 100 – the histograms look roughly the same – if anything the second image with the light is slightly more exposed.
However if we assume they are the same then at this distance the light is adding about 7 and 2/3ds stops of light which is fantastic and would be the difference between a handheld shot of 1/30th @ f/2.8 at ISO 1600 and 1/100th @ f/16 at ISO 800 (i.e. blurry handheld with no DoF and slightly noisy vs sharp with much more depth of field and lower noise).
I also tried the flash mode where it turns off the LEDs before flashing them at double brightness and it also works and does seem to give double the power – I took the shot in manual at 1/200 @ f/8 and ISO 100 and got a good exposure so in theory you could get almost 9 stops of lighting power for close macro work.
Obviously these are fairly ideal conditions so will have to see how it fares in the real world but for macro applications at close distances I think it will do a great job. Obviously the further the subject is from the lens the weaker the power will be so it’s not really for portrait or other work (unless they are very close) so it isn’t going to compete with real ring or other off camera flashes in that arena but for it’s intended purpose it looks very promising.
Test #2 (70cm)
This time a dimly lit subject 50cm from the front of the LED ring (about 70cm from the sensor) so we are well out of macro territory here – this would be near a head shot portrait distance with a portrait lens.
The before shot was 2.5sec @ f/3.2 ISO 100 and the after shots were 1/8th (& 1/15th) @ f/3.2 ISO 100 – so about 4 and 1/3rd stops (+1 for flash mode) – still pretty respectable and the difference between a shot at ISO 6400 and ISO 320 (160) for instance.
I’ll update again when I have had a chance to use it for real out in the field and with real world images to show…