Intrigued by the concept of continuous lighting and the results of a ring light, I bought the cheap “Neewer” LED ring light recommended by Kirk Tuck. Kirk (should I call him Mr. Tuck? I don't really know him although I read his blog regularly and recommend it. Also, I bought and liked his first book “Minimalist Lighting”.) has been working with continuous LED lighting and has a book on using LEDs in the works. I got the cheap ring light, fitted it to my G12 and have been enjoying tinkering with it for a week or so.
The Neewer LED ring light slides over a thin plate that is molded onto a filter-looking screw thread. Six such mounts are included in the package. One of those mounts had 58mm filter threads – just right for attaching to my Lensmate adapter (the others are 49, 52, 55, 62, 67mm). At first, I used both the “A” and “B” adapters but quickly realized that the “B” adapter produced vignetting so it was removed.
The battery case mounts to the G12 hotshoe but does not use the G12 battery. The battery case can fit onto the hotshoe facing either way. The kit includes an AC power supply.
From my early trials with the Neewer LED ring light, I discovered a few quirks:
best to use reading glasses when doing close up work
must actually be turned ON or will produce misleading results
do not attached the connecting cable to the “DC 3V In” connection (no damage but lights do not come on)
using old rechargeable batteries, lights blinked then went dim but remained lit
The level of lighting is not adjustable. Neewer claims a 1-1/2 hour service time using the recommended NiMH batteries but I haven’t confirmed that (yet).
Naturally, I had to “test” some aspect of the LED ring light. I suspected that the light output and color would vary with the type battery used. The battery pack holds two “AA” batteries. I tried conventional alkaline, NiMH and NiZn batteries in macro type close-ups. Note that these batteries each have differing voltage outputs. Although my tests were not particularly rigorous, I could not tell any differences in light output or color. The test procedure was to get a RAW image of red, green and blue pins (RGB – get it?) shown below and convert using Adobe Camera Raw. In the conversion process, the exposure adjustment (based on pushing the histogram to the right) and color temperature (sampled from the white base) were noted. Pictures were taken in three settings: 1) indoors using fluorescent lighting, 2) inside a light tent with overhead lights off and 3) outdoors under bright sunlight.
According to my simplistic tests, the Neewer LED ring light tends to have a color temperature of about 6000 K. As compared to normal room lighting, when used up close, the Neewer LED ring light provides about 3 stops of exposure. That is, instead of shooting at 1/25 second without the LED light, I was able to shoot at 1/250 second with the LED light. Outdoors was, of course, a different story. When used outdoors in bright light, the Neewer LED ring light reduced exposure by only about 1/3 stop. Remember that these results are with the light close to the subject.
The photo above was taken in RAW mode with lighting only from the overhead fluorescents. Automated exposure in Av mode was f 3.5 at 1/25 second using ISO 80.
This shot was taken with the overhead fluorescents plus the LED ring light. Notice the softer shadows but also notice that each pin shows a reflection of the ring light. Automated exposure in Av mode was f 3.5 at 1/250 second using ISO 80.
I like the cheap LED ring light. I wouldn’t have bought it at a higher price but it will be useful for getting macro photos.