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Gear Review: Angler Circo LED Ring Light (19″)

Over the years I’ve been adding to my lighting equipment. I started out with a standard on-camera flash and then progressed into my AlienBee B800 strobes. And now, with the Angler Circo LED Ring Light (19″), I’m adding a bit of flair into my setup.

I was initially intrigued to get a ring light in order to get a crisp look in eyes when photographing portraits. Instead of using umbrellas on my AlienBees, I wanted a more-focused light that would help to better show off a person’s eyes.

The Angler Circo LED Ring Light (19″) is a great starter ring light. Retailing for $199.95, it’s a fraction of what I paid for my other lighting equipment, and still gets the job done.

Setup

For me, the setup was the most complicated part. The instruction manual needs some fleshing out, and it seems like it’s geared towards photographers who have used a similar ring light in the past, rather than myself as a newbie. You’ll need a Philips screwdriver, first and foremost. Beyond that, I struggled as to know where I should put the camera bracket in relation to my camera, tripod plate, and tripod head.

Eventually, I figured out that it went tripod head first, then the tripod plate, camera bracket and camera (in that order). But even though now I know how to put it together, the amount of time it takes is disappointing, not to mention the fact that it was very difficult to put together without a second person helping hold things.

The light also comes with a flexible stand if you want more control over the placement of the light.

Once it was set up, it was relatively easy to use. There’s a dial on the back that lets you control the power from 0% to 100%. At its highest power, you’ll essentially blind your subject. I found the most effective results to be in the 60% to 80% range.

The light also comes with a diffuser ring, which helps with minimizing the blindness, but also to spread out and soften the light a bit.

Results

Overall I really liked the effect that the ring light gave to the eyes. While I’ve seen ring lights and ring flashes used in the past, usually they create a really obvious circular ring in the subject’s eyes. With the Angler Circo LED Ring Light (19″), this effect seems a bit more subdued and realistic — a huge plus in my book when dealing with headshots and corporate portraits.

What I didn’t like though were the soft shadows the ring light produced. I tried several different positions of my friend Jeff, both further from and closer to the wall, and still had a soft shadow surrounding him. I think had I coupled this with some of my AlienBees, it would’ve helped to minimize the shadows further. Or, had this been an environmental portrait, the shadow would not have been as obvious.

Conclusion

The Angler Circo LED Ring Light (19″) is a great starter ring light option, for those who want to use some different, unique lighting techniques. If you’re in a small space and don’t have room for strobes and umbrellas, this is a great option.

That being said, the amount of time it took to setup was frustrating. Even though I now know how to set it up, it’s not exactly easy to put together and adjust by yourself. For me, this is enough to turn me off from it, as most of my portraiture work is on-site at a client’s business. For in-studio work, however, this might be a bit more realistic and easy to work with.

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