The BETTER ring light

After my initial forray into creating a ring light for cheap I wanted to improve upon the results as well as experiment with a different color of the led strips. My wife wanted to see them as we will be using them for under cabinet lighting in our kitchen remodel if we ever get it done...


So, here are the things you will need.



In the picture is five meters of led strip lights- 300leds, super bright white, ~6000k w/b -$10 on ebay

A large plastic drink cup from some fast food source (Wendy's) -free with drink

77mm aluminum male-male adapter ring- $2 on Ebay

Tupperware "pie tray"- $10 used on Ebay

Not shown, aluminum foil & glue or foil tape. I would recommend the foil tape- $6

Not shown, 12vdc power supply. 1500ma (1.5A) minimum. I'm using a small 12v battery from a cordless screwdriver- free. !2v 1.5A wall wart will cost you ~$5

TOTAL COST = $30-35.00

Ok, on to building the thing. First thing to do is to attach the 77mm adapter ring to the back of the bowl. I used a 77mm ring as that's the largest filter size for any lens I might want to use this with. There's a couple of ways of going about this. Probably the easiest is to heat the ring in the oven until it is very hot and then place it onto the back of the bowl (use pliers!) and let it melt it's way thru. It may take a couple of attempts to get it to cut completely thru. Be carefull not to let the ring melt too far should wind up flush on the front side. I used an exacto knife to cut the "plug" completely free and clean it up.

The other option is to cut the opening with a razor knife. You need the opening slightly smaller than the ring. Best way to do this is to trace the inner diameter of the ring and then cut to the line... from there sneak up on it VERY carefully. The end result we want is for the adapter ring to thread into the back of the bowl.

After the ring is in the back of the bowl heat the inside of the ring with a butane torch type of lighter (a micro torch will also work) until the plastic just started to flow out to ensure I had complete "threads" in the plastic... Depending upon the results you achieved with the previous step this might not be required.

So after all of the work, this is what it looks like. The filter ring can be unthreaded from the bowl if desired.

Now it's time to line the bowl with foil or foil tape, to include the plastic cup "hood." I chose the plastic cup becasue it has a rolled lip and was readily available. This is a large sized cup but it starts to vignette the corners at 70mm. Size your "hood" appropriately for the widest lens you might use this with.

To cut the hood for height I placed it top down inside the bowl and used a ruler across the bowl marking along the TOP of the ruler because I want the top of the hood to be just above the cover. Cut with a razor knife. The cut doesn't have to be particularly accurate as any light leaks will be sealed with the foil tape.

Here it is with everything foiled.

Next is to cut the diffusion panel (lid) opening. Place the lid onto the bowl and mark the inside of the hood opening onto it from the back. It should end up just slightly smaller than the lip of the hood. I used an exacto knife for this.

Now it's time to add the LED's. Start by folding the tape in an accordian fold with the backing still installed. Do NOT fold at the resistors. Using something sharp or a drill punch a small hole thru the back of the bowl at the outer edge for the wires to go thru. Put the wires thru and test fit the strip working in a circle until reaching the end. Once you have your layout start at the wire end removing the backing and adhearing the led's.

As you can see, the 300 led strip fits pretty well.

Now we can attach the diffusion panel. It takes a little force to deform the lip of the "hood" and get it thru, but it will go.

At this point, you can be done with the project. To attach the wall wart or longer wires you can solder them on, or just use crimp connectors. 12vdc is very safe as long as you don't short the wires together.

But I wanted a more "professional" look. So I painted it with "univeral" paint which is compatible with plastic. I was also concerned there might be some light reflection issues inside the "hood" so I painted that as well.

Here it is installed on my 150mm macro with the addition of a 72-77mm step up ring.

And here it is lit up.

I had to use 4 stops +EC to get this shot and the BG is still underexposed. This thing is pretty bright (but it's still not a flash).

This is an image of a reflective glass taken from ~5ft away.

too slow of a SS (1/40) at max ISO (12800)


1/160 with a lower ISO as well.

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