With This Ring…

On May 19, 2011, in lighting, by admin
Recently, I came across two interesting products while at Foto Care (41 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10010) that caught my eye:  The 12 inch and the 18 inch Daylight-balanced Fluorescent Ring Lights from Stellar Lighting Systems. In examining the fixtures I had to admit I was impressed.  The construction is pretty solid for light fixtures of this size and light weight as the fixtures with lamps installed weigh in at under 3 pounds.  The light that they produce is soft as you would expect from a fluorescent lamp, and the circular shape gives it a broad spread. In fact the adjectives I would use to describe the light are “soft” and “beautiful.”  The fixtures can be mounted to a light stand or a tripod, and the camera centered. The 12 inch unit includes hardware for mounting the light directly to the camera.  Neither unit is dimmable.  “Stillmotographers” (HDSLR/ILML camera  users who shoot stills and video) will find these lights suitable for use with stills and/or video.   While Stellar calls the 12 inch Ring Light a smaller version of the 18 inch unit, the two  lights may have different appeals and utility.

The 12 inch Ring Light comes in a corrugated box strapped inside a padded carrying case, with mounting hardware, and an AC cord.  Stellar estimates the light output at 1200 lumen.  The real appeal of the 12 inch Ring Light in my opinion is that it can be powered by plugging it into an AC outlet, or by connecting it (using the supplied D tap connector) to a 15 volt battery.  After pricing several battery systems (with some of the options costing several times the cost of the Ring Light itself,) I elected to power the 12 inch Ring Light by plugging the AC cord directly into a Vagabond Mini Lithium battery from Paul C. Buff Inc.  My testing consistently achieved nearly two hours of continuous light on a fully charged battery.  The 12 Inch Ring Light can be easily mounted to an extension pole and hand carried along with the battery by an assistant.

The 12 inch Ring Light from Stellar Lighting Systems

The 18 inch Ring Light comes in a larger box and padded case, along with tripod/c stand mounting hardware, and an AC power cord.  According to Stellar, the 18 inch Ring Light which uses a 65 Watt lamp produces 4000 lumen (f 5.6 at 4 feet @ISO 200.) 

As with most fluorescents, these lights are best used indoors.  The color temperature seems most stable after running then for about 3-4 minutes.  I find them flicker free.

Now for the deal sealer:  The MSRP of the 12 inch and 18 inch units is $199 and $219 respectively. These lights are lightweight and pack a lot of bang for the buck. They are suitable for location or studio work.  The only drawbacks are that 1) the gooseneck stand mount that comes with the 12 inch fixture has to be unscrewed (it’s held in place by two Philips head screws) to fit in the box and transport case, and 2) I wish there were an alternative to the cardboard braces used to protect the lamp when being stored or transported. All thing considered, these are both minor issues.  Perhaps now you can understand why I’m excited about saying “With this ring, I thee light!”

Disclosure: No consideration has been received in connection with this blog entry, nor has any manufacturer and/or retailer offered any consideration


copyright 2011 bk atkinson

2 Responses to With This Ring…

  1. James says:

    Have you had any overheating problems with the mini battery?

  2. admin says:

    No, I’ve had no problems at all. The battery operates for nearly an hour continuously before the fan comes on. When the fan does come on, it is audible, but not intrusively, and runs for about 2-3 minutes. During the second hour of operation the fan came on about 4 times or so.
    Thanks for reading the post and for your question!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>