The Orbis Ring Flashsimilarly uses your existing flash/strobe to create a soft, round light that mimics what you can do using a dedicated studio ring flash.
Before I go further I do want to mention that ExpoImaging sponsors this blog and distributes the competing RayFlash. So if you think it’s not possible for me to give an honest review under those circumstances, please read no further. For the rest of you, I can assure you that there is a brick wall here at Photofocus between editorial and advertising and accordingly, my review is as unbiased as it can be.
Please read the review of the RayFlash first and then read what follows in context. It’s most helpful to contrast the two products to help demonstrate what the orbis ring flash is like.
The orbis product is a one-size fits all unit. It fit my Nikon SB-900 well. It probably fit my SB-900 just slightly better than the RayFlash does, but not enough to worry about. The orbis was a bit snug and the RayFlash a bit loose, but I have no worries about the fit. I suspect that smaller flash units might find the orbis a bit too large and to that end, much like the RayFlash, orbis includes a shim to help steady the ring flash adapter on your flash. RayFlash sells different units depending on your camera and lens combo. This is because the way the RayFlash fits depends entirely on that data. The orbis has the advantage of being a one-size-fits all model, but there is a cost for that which I will detail later.
The second big difference between the two units is the way the orbis is used. The RayFlash is installed on the flash and then over your lens. The RayFlash hangs off the flash head. The orbis product does not mount in the same way and accordingly, you must use your free hand to hold the orbis over the lens. You also must have some way of remotely firing your flash, either via PC sync cord or remote trigger. This means that even though the two products are priced similarly, the orbis is slightly more expensive in the long run because you have to buy something else to trigger your flash.
The makers of the orbis are promising a product called the orbis arm, a simple kit enabling you to fix your orbis to your camera will be available in 2009, but so far it is not available.
The quality of construction, fit and finish between the two units is very similar. Both appear to be solid and well-made. Both provide a very similar result. The orbis is (depending on how you feel about having to hold it over your lens) either more versatile in that it isn’t married to the flash head or disadvantaged, because you must always use your free hand to hold it over the lens if you want the ring flash effect.
Either the orbis or the RayFlash could be used in ways not originally designed as a simple light modifier on a flash head mounted to a stand off camera. Both products do that job very well and can both offer some great soft light.
I used the orbis as a ring light/macro light. It worked very well, diffusing the light and providing me with a quality of light that was very pleasing. I followed the orbis instructions setting my ISO to 400 and the flash to TTL. I also set the flash zoom manually to its longest focal length. Not all flashes are capable of this but the SB-900 is.
I think that both thr RayFlash and the orbis ring flash do a great job for the money. I’d give a slight nod to the RayFlash because it doesn’t require a separate sync cord or remote trigger to fire and because it mounts directly on the flash, freeing up my left hand to steady the camera. But there may be some people who prefer the freedom provided by the orbis method. There’s no doubt it works. It’s just a question of whether or not it works for you. Recommended.
The orbis ring flash comes with a one-year warranty against defects and a 14-day money-back guarantee.