ESDDI LED ring light
ESDDI 14″ LED ring light
Whilst we cover specialist product photography, Keith also offers training for companies wanting to do their own product photography. [Product photography training]
As such we try out all sorts of equipment that may be suitable for different types of photography, and can be used to demonstrate how it’s all done.
Keith was recently asked by ESSDI if we’d like to test a LED based large ring light.
It’s much bigger than the ring lights we’ve looked at before, which tended to be for close-up and macro photography.
The ESDDI 14″ LED ring light
The light comes in its own carry bag.
Hardly a robust travel case, but ideal for keeping stuff tidied away when you’re not using the lamp.
There’s a good length (~3m) power lead.
You also get a stand, a gooseneck (flexible support) and attachment for things inside the ring.
The stand is sturdy enough, but if other people are walking around take care with the lead and use the stand with the legs well splayed out.
The clip will apparently take a mobile phone, if you use such things…
The mount has a standard 1/4″ tripod screw fitting.
It’s solid enough for a small DSLR, but I think I’d rather have my camera on a proper tripod.
From behind you can see the controls, accessory mount point and two solid 1/4″ inserts that mean you could even directly attach the light to a tripod head.
- Light Source: 360 SMD LED lamps
- Life time: 50000h
- Outer Diameter: 14 inch / 35.5 cm
- Inner Diameter: 9 inch / 23 cm
- Power Supply: 100-240V, 50/60Hz
- Output Power: 40W
- Luminous Flux: 4000 Lumens
- CRI (Colour Rendering Index): 90+
The light is very bright and the diffuse cover removes any unevenness caused by individual LED lights.
Looking through the ring, flat on to the wall, the lack of shadow is noticeable.
Note though the characteristic reflections of ring lighting.
Pointing the light at an angle changes lighting, but note the fall off with distance.
Moving the light back will give a wider coverage (as with any light source).
The light does give a nice soft lighting at a distance (note shadows on the wall).
The light is adjustable in colour temperature and brightness.
Just how your camera will react to the differing colour temperature is not always predictable, so be prepared to set the camera white balance or make processing adjustment like I’ll show in a bit.
Here are two photos of the same scene (Canon EOS 100D) at different light settings.
[click to enlarge]
Why might you want to adjust the colour temperature?
The photo above is in a darkened room with no other light. If there was daylight coming in through the windows, I might want a higher colour temperature, so that the two light sources matched.
Similarly, if I had the main room lights on (tungsten bulbs) I might set the ring light to 3200K to match the warm room lighting.
Accurate colour – when you need it
I’m quite often photographing subjects in mixed or unusual lighting and I want to be confident that I’ll be accurately recording colours.
The simplest ‘fix’ is to use a photo grey card to set the white balance for your camera [using a grey card] – the procedure for setting a custom white balance varies from camera to camera, but will be in the manual.
A more accurate way of improving colour reproduction is to use my ColorChecker Passport to create DNG profiles that I can use when processing RAW camera files.
If you’re curious about this, see my ColorChecker Passport review
For this calibration process, I need to take a photo including the colour target in it.
Here are two photos at two different colour settings.
To make the profiles I need to convert the RAW files to DNG format with the free Adobe DNG converter software – they are still RAW camera files but in a more universal format.
You drop the DNG file onto the free X-Rite ColorChecker Camera Calibration software, and a profile is made for you (the profiles work with Photoshop and Lightroom, and a few other RAW file converters)
Here are two runs of the software with different lighting – note how the software has detected the card position.
This gives me a correction profile for either of the extreme colour temperature settings.
What about in-between?
It so happens that you can make what are called dual illuminant profiles – from the two DNG files.
Just how well they work is partly dependent on your camera, but here are corrected versions (left) vs the ‘out of the camera’ JPEG files (right) [click to enlarge]
A well built bit of kit that gives a very useful range of lighting options. I’m told it’s good for portraits and selfies, but I’m afraid I do neither, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for examples of that.
This is probably not the sort of kit that you’d necessarily want to use every day in a busy working studio – that’s why you pay a lot more for some studio equipment, but it’s more than good enough for my own occasional use, and teaching.
The light gives good colour reproduction, and with even basic profiling, excellent colour.
The ring is large enough to give a good even light to moderately sized objects, shot through the hole.
LED lighting certainly has improved a lot in recent years – to have good quality variable colour temperature used to mean poor colour rendition, but not any more.
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