Led Lighting on the cheap.

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Whilst browsing the hardware section of my local Wilkenson’s I noticed these 48 Led Ring Lights that bear a remarkable resemblance to another light marketed to photographers and videographers that retails for around £100. The wilkenson ring light costs under £5, so I thought I would give it a try, and see if it was suited to photographic use.

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The light it simply packaged, and the only accessory is a little bit of plastic that fits in the middle of the light to hang it from a hook or string. They run of 3 AA batteries (not included), which seem to last for a long time, I haven’t tested exactly how long because it seems like a waste of batteries & time. I have been using them for a few weeks and haven’t had to change the batteries, and the lights don’t get any dimmer as the battery drains.

After playing with the light a little, I decided I liked it enough to buy another 2, so I now have a set of 3 led ring lights  for under £15.

The lights are most effective at close range, and are ideal for lighting portraits and still life. White balance can be corrected in camera, and I haven’t noticed any objectionable cast. The light seems consistant enough for video use, without any signs of flickering or colours shifting.

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The button on the front of the light turns it on and cycles through the 3 modes of outer ring lit, inner ring lit and both rings lit. You twist the back to open and gain access to the batteries.

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I Don’t use artificial lighting that often, but it is nice to have the option if and when I need it. I have been keen to try some led lights, but didn’t think it worth the investment being asked for specialist photographic lights for my use.

These lights have proved very useful and versatile. They provide a good quality of light for close range subjects, don’t get hot in use, are lightweight and simple to use.

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The Rolleicord was lit with 2 lights at roughly 45 degrees, shot with a 50mm f1.4 Olympus lens at f8 on a Panasonic GF1 mounted on a tripod. The camera was left in auto white balance, and the Raw image was processed in aperture. The light is even and not to harsh, and it is easy to see what you are getting and make adjustments. The power of the light can be controlled by altering the distance from the subject. Note the circular highlights in the lenses. The shot was set up quickly and simply to test the lights. With more carefully controlled ambient lighting, and the addition of some kind of lighting stands better results could probably be achieved.

The lights obviously don’t come with any of the accessories that their more expensive lookalikes do, like the coloured gels or the camera mount, but I believe that the core unit is the same. I plan on another scout around the hardware section to see if I can find something to use as stands or mounts for the lights, maybe sticking them to an old camera flash bracket or something similar could work well, or to the base of an angle poise lamp.

They are fantastic for the price, the quality of light is as good as that I have seen from specialist photographic units, and I would highly recommend them to anyone on a tight budget wanting to play with led lighting.

There are a whole range of led lights designed for domestic use that could easily be adapted to photographic uses.

They are also very useful for finding things in dark cupboards!

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