kayla11

Model – Kayla Knudson

(NOTE: All photos in this review are Copyright Scott Bourne 2009 – All Rights Reserved. All images made with Ray Flash)

There’s only one thing I can say that described the Ray Flash Ring Flash adapter: Cool.

The Ray flash is not a genuine ring flash. Rather, it’s an adapter that turns your speedlight into a ring flash. I tested the Ray Flash on my Nikon SB-900.

The Ray Flash is an un-tethered device that uses a system of internal prisms, reflectors and light-shapers (the company also calls them light channels) to guide the light from your speedlight down and around the lens in an even matter. Note, it’s not as even as it would be were this an actual flash unit itself, but it’s close enough for government work.

it contains no electronics, no flash tubes and requires no batteries or cables.

The advantage of this unit is that it’s lightweight, (weighs just one pound) more portable and less expensive than an actual ring flash. I own other devices like this that work on my studio lights, including one from Bowens. But the Ray Flash is lighter, easier to mount and cheaper to buy.

The simplest application of this device is to throw your subject next to any wall, put the flash in i-TTL (Nikon) E-TTL (Canon), point and shoot. That’s right, you can still use your flash’s automatic and TTL features when employing the Ray Flash.

The light from the unit will be somewhat flat, but you’ll have a cool circular catchlight in the eyes. You might have to experiment with some flash compensation. I typically took off about a half stop, but then again I am very conservative when it comes to flash. I usually just want a kiss of light when I’m the one making the light, i.e., using flash. Your mileage may vary.

The Ray Flash is also great for use in macro and close-up applications. The only thing I’d note is that it seems to lead to lots more red eye than usual, but that can be easily fixed in post.

The un-retouched image below shows off the effect of the unit pretty well. Note the red eye. Also note the slight halo around the subject. This is normal when you use a ring flash. You need to practice with subject-to-background distance to decide how much or little of this halo effect you want.

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The unit is plastic but it’s sturdy and feels well made. The company includes a spacer that allows you to make sure the fit on your camera is snug.

The unit shipped to me in a box marked “Fragile” and I don’t want to break it, so the only negative is that it’s not something that will fit easily in your camera bag. I’m keeping it in the original box which I’ll store in my grip bag. It’s a small price to pay to have a simple, go-to light modifier that will really help me if I get into one of those situations where I have to make a perfect shot with less than two minutes prep.

I’m also looking forward to experimenting with it in the future, trying to gel it or take it off camera to see what sort of impact that will have. This is an unconventional accessory and it’s just begging to be used in an unconventional way.

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For the $199, you can’t go wrong. Highly recommended.

For more information go to Expo Imaging’s website.

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