I recently wrote a post on using extension tubes and mentioned how macro ring lights can be very helpful. So in this follow-up, I take a closer look at macro ring lights and the benefits of them.

Getting in really close to your subject can block a lot of light. Sure, you can use a flash or off-camera flash or light. But I believe that there are a few advantages to using a macro ring light.

The benefits

A macro right light offers soft even light, which can easily be diffused. The ring light is lightweight and quite transportable.

They are extremely cost-effective and versatile. My Bolt VM-160 macro ring light came with four different clip-on diffusers, to further adjust the quality of light from the ring light — clear, frosted, amber and blue. It also came with several ring adapters — there’s an adapter for almost every lens diameter.

How do they work

Macro ring lights really are very easy to use. They connect to your camera’s hot shoe and then attach to the front of your lens with the adapters.

The controls on the back are easy to use and the LED display easy to read. You can set the light to illuminate from only the left or right side when shooting. Additionally, to help conserve battery power, the light can be set to work in flash mode, which will only turn the light on each time the shutter is released.

Issues to consider

There is a downside to these ring lights. They do use a few AA batteries, so make sure you pack a spare set. Also if you are using a longer lens (18-200mm) you can sometimes get a halo effect around the edge of your image when used at the widest focal length. Zooming in a little can usually eradicate this.

The verdict

I use my macro ring lights regularly with my macro lens. I find they are a fantastic tool to have with you when the light is poor, or when you are shooting quite close. Of course, they’re not only used for macro photography … ring lights are great for portraits too.