observant cactus [deleted] 10:32pm, 22 January 2009
Here is a very low cost Ring Flash for portraiture that i made earlier.
It cost £3.50 and took 5 minutes to assemble.

DIY Ring Flash

Here is a very quick test shot

Test shot with DIY Ring Flash

It is made from a flexible Plastic air extractor tube simple placed over a hammerhead Metz flash. The Flash is pointed sideways facing the camera and the tube is bent around the lens and back up to the flash unit.
donh54 10 years ago
Are you going to tell us what it's made of, or leave us in suspenders :)
observant cactus [deleted] 10 years ago
Sorry Doh i was just adding the "how to" because i forgot to add it originally.
donh54 10 years ago
Sweet! I'll have a look for some of that stuff next time I'm in Bunnings.
Cool post!
observant cactus [deleted] 10 years ago
It seems to work really well and the update will include a foil back to direct all the light forward. I might strengthen it as well to keep it in the round shape.
Clever, I'm impressed.
Scott Forman 10 years ago
What's an air extractor tube?
observant cactus [deleted] 10 years ago
It is made of soft plastic and it has a wire frame running through it to keep it's shape. It is like a concertina design so that it can be collapsed or stretched.
observant cactus [deleted] 10 years ago
I think it might be for a tumble drier but i'm not sure.
Airchinapilot PRO 10 years ago
That's pretty unique way of approaching the problem.

Only issue is that it is hotter at the top still.

Photo is nice though.
observant cactus [deleted] 10 years ago
Maybe a double layer of plastic at the top will solve this problem?
shallow action [deleted] 10 years ago
excellent idea!
observant cactus [deleted] 10 years ago
Also another good thing about this one is that it throws light everywhere so it is like a crude bare bulb flash as well.
Atma Singh 10 years ago
very innovative!
Bill Millios 10 years ago
Eureka. That could make really cool strip lights if you taped the back side to control spill.

And they'd be flexible. And they COLLAPSE. (Who else has all this DIY stuff sitting around that's large and unwieldy?)

Off to Home Depot... (looks at wife... looks at snow outside...) .. tomorrow.
observant cactus [deleted] 10 years ago
I tried it as a strip light before and it seems pretty good.
cmflaw 10 years ago
can you post some pictures of the whole set up so we can see it a little better. i am having trouble visualizing what you did, but i like the results!
observant cactus [deleted] 10 years ago
I'm just off to bed but i'll post some better shots tomorrow.
Basically you have the white flexible tube and you push your flash into one end and then wrap the tube around your lens.
glaschu 10 years ago
I've just spent half an hour building a ringflash and now I see this post? Uch well, looks like I'll have two different ones to try tomorrow lol
observant cactus [deleted] 10 years ago
Let me know if anyone else tries this then we can come up with improvements etc.
kenkyee 10 years ago
What department at Home Depot would you find this "flexible Plastic air extractor tube"?
That's nice and KISS easy :-)
Speed-Light PRO Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Speed-Light (member) 10 years ago
It's a clothes dryer vent tube. So it's probably in the appliance section.
observant cactus [deleted] 10 years ago
Yes thats right.
It should be with the air vents that you would attach to a wall.
alexandermah 10 years ago
Hmm, how would it be if you painted the backside of the ring light black? Too much light loss?
blindmike 10 years ago
Hey, that's cool! I'll have to run down to the store later, I have some big ideas as long as it doesn't melt on me ;)
kenkyee 10 years ago
Now I see what it is...it's the thing that looks like a giant slinky.

I'm surprised it's not absorbing more light than that. If you put some foil on the back, won't that mean it won't be collapsible any longer? And what do you do with the open end of it that doesn't have the Metz head plugged into it?
jumbled smile [deleted] 10 years ago

how bout buying the silver ones, and ripping of the front and putting on a diffusion material in front? I guess they are made from mylar as they are usually used to push hot air/smoke from the stow and into the wild, so they have to bear some heat.. Just an idea though. if it´s mylar it will work great!
observant cactus [deleted] 10 years ago
Kenkyee my original idea was to put a vanity mirror in the other end to bounce light back around the tube ,but that was just a brain storm and i don't know if it would do anything at all.
At the moment i just have the loose end connected to the start of the tube. It has a thin wire that goes through the whole tube so i just pushed the excess through the end of each end to keep it in shape.
My new idea is to get some thicker white tube that you find on a sink unit and use that to make another prototype that will be non collapsible and more rigid.
Also i am thinking of a twin flash unit and have a flash in each end to try and even the lighting out a bit.
Conect i looked at the silver one today and it's nice and sturdy and i was also thinking of cutting it in half to creat a circular bowl that the white plastic bit can sit in.
The above version was a very quick trial and i just rushed it to make a circlular shape around the lens. But saying that, it does seem to work very good.
On a more crazy note i have also thought of connecting four flashes and making four strip lights out of this material that would hang from the ceiling. To form a square of light around a model. This might be interesting to try.
blindmike 10 years ago
Checked out Lowes and Home Depot but was only able to find solid aluminum ducting for dryers.
observant cactus [deleted] Posted 10 years ago. Edited by observant cactus (member) 10 years ago
Look at the section for air vents for using with extractor systems.
I noticed my mum has one connected to her extractor fan above her cooker.
blindmike 10 years ago
Yeah I looked in the extractor section too but only found aluminum. Looking online, I found a manufacturer for clear ducting. I just need to find it locally.
observant cactus [deleted] 10 years ago
Good luck then.
Look forward to seeing your results when you are set up.
purring machine [deleted] 10 years ago
NosamLuap (aka Paul Mason) Posted 10 years ago. Edited by NosamLuap (aka Paul Mason) (member) 10 years ago
Thanks for the tip on this - I tried it today...

Picked up the ducting from Screwfix (Item number 17297) and also picked up a connector that's meant to be used to link the tubular ducting to rectangular duct (Item number 12049)

(I'm UK based - no idea if Screwfix operates outside of UK?)

Anyway - first result with the flash on camera and the head turned 90degree to right were OK, but there's a very clear hotspot between 12 o clock and 3 o clock (i.e the quarter of the ring that's in the direct flash light). Sample shot below of my daughter (Not a great shot, but it shows the effect and the catch lights, so illustrates the point well!). You can see the stronger shadow on her right (left of image) from the hotspot of the ring

Day44 - Shock

Also, the ribs of the duct are visible in the catchlight:

Day44 - Shock (Eye crop)

But given this cost less than £3.00, it's worth some further effort. I figure an internal Gobo at the top, curving round to maybe 5 o clock and getting thinner as it goes round to allow increasingly more light out, and maybe a reflector in the other end of the tube would even things out (and it's just the right size to wedge a CD in the duct, so that may be a shortcut!)

Haven't compared it to a bare flash shot yet to see how much light it's eating, but I will do.

Edit: Forgot to mention one of the best features (apart from the price): if you don't worry about the solid plastic 'mount', the duct itself folds to < 1" thick with a diameter similar to a CD, so you can easily stick it in your bag... Even store it folded round a lens. (Though that may not be the case by the time I've added whatever I need to even out the hotspot)
Tristan Pope 10 years ago
awsome can't wait to see this finallized!
mjpatey 10 years ago
I'm going to try this!

Also, I wonder if more light could be thrown forward by covering the back with an extra layer or two of the leftover duct material... just slice it in half and reinforce the back of your full tube with it to make the back more opaque. It might still be foldable that way.
jimgoldenstudio 10 years ago
lets keep in mind this costs...uh...nothing - last I checked, even on fleabay fire sale, a profoto ring + pack was at least $1500-2k
As soon as time permits! ;-)

Foolishly, I was a cheapskate, and only bought 1m of the ducting - I was surprised that the whole metre was needed to form the ring, so I don't have any leftover :( I did think of trying to add silver tape (I have some in the garage) to the back on the inside to add some reflectance and stop spill to the rear, but I don't think it would stay as flexible, and would likely then crack off in use.

for the idea though, not me)
vegemitesandwich 10 years ago
Why not just spray the back with silver paint?
I did think of that, but ideally I'd want to spray the inside to get the benefit of the reflectance. If I'm spraying the outside (which would be far easier!) then I guess I may as well just spray it black, as it will just need to stop spill? Or do you think that the silver will still have a slightly reflective effect when sprayed outside?
kenwood2009 10 years ago
impressed, good idea!
jonny rebel 10 years ago
It certainly looks like it, but I guess there may be different materials used to make the same thing by different manufacturers? (After all, they don't care if it transmits untinted light, only that it gets the damp air outside!)

Mine measures roughly 4" diameter, and there's enough give/flex in the vinyl to allow me to wedge a CD in the end as a kind of reflector (Work in progress - will report back when I figure how to even out the light!)
I spent some time (3 or 4 minutes, maybe more!) playing with this tonight. I added a CD in the end, fashioned a very makeshift 'clamp' from a tent peg and a bulldog clip to hold it in place, then handheld a 2nd slave flash to try and even out the lighting. Not a great success, but it's going in the right direction - rather than typing it all out again, you can see the resutls on my blog: paulmasonimages.blogspot.com/2009/02/air-duct-ringlight-e...

(the images are in my photostream if you want to see larger ones)

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who's managed to get this working with an even light - seemed to get a far better effect on the 'halo shadow', but I can't see how balanced the catchlight was in those shots...
vegemitesandwich 10 years ago
Re silver paint, you will get some reflectance, with black you will get zilch
cake.x 10 years ago
I love this place. Where else can you get so great stuff for free. Thanks for sharing, guys.
Groups Beta