Yoshizen's Blog

Make LED Ring Light

While hiding in my cave (:-D ) I found the time to do building work (Since, as

I don’t have a habit to watch TV (I don’t have a TV 

nor able for streaming video signal on USB dongle 

connection) or DVD,I have to DO something 😀 ).

From other project where I changed White LED to 

Color LED I got mountain of White LED, I decided

to make LED Ring Light which can utilize

those LEDs in number.

Ring Light can create (almost) shadowless  

image, or having faint shadow surrounding the  

subjects, some says, it is the Holy Grail in the Lighting effect. 🙂


Funny situation these days is, we can get the LEDs from the products,  

such as an LED Work Light from Lidl which is using 40, 60 LEDs inside,

as cheap as £15 = much much cheaper than to buy LED itself from an

electronic supplier = hence disassemble and use them to make such as

a Ring Light can save a cost a lot. (advantage is, that the LEDs has been

selected and tested already by the maker and the Lidl, hence there is little

chance to get old type dead-stock from unknown supplier in the Net  🙂 )


Basically, all about LED Ring Light is “How to mount a ring around the

lens front” — other than this, everything else are straight forward =

just put a lots of LEDs and connect it to the battery.

—– Sound easy though, the trouble is, not like in a good old days when

most of the lenses from one camera maker has only one or few filter sizes

(such as for Pentax = 49mm, Nikon = 52mm, Canon = 58mm etc), but

now as the role of filter is diminishing (now most of the visual effects were

created by Photoshop), lens doesn’t need to have the same filter size =

in the other words, to make a ring light capable to be used on many lenses

is nothing but a headache. 🙂

To make the situation even worse is, the use of Zoom lens is the norm now

and as the lens starts from wide-angle, it is necessary to make ring light NOT

vignettes (not cut off the corner of the image by the additional protruded edge)

= it got to be much larger than a front element of the lens.

On the other hand, some lenses especially on the smaller camera is getting

even smaller and many of them has even no filter thread on the front at all.

= it mean, the ring light got to be designed and made for the individual purpose

and the choice of lens. —– (hence, better to do DIY 🙂 )


I decided to make one for my 100mm macro and other for 24mm~70mm Zoom.

So that the first sample here is to make it for my Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro (not 

the latest L type — it came to the market only two months later, but this one is

pretty sharp as well, and I like its smaller front lens which would cast less shadow

when we close to the subject and easier to give a lighting.

(in extreme close-up, large front lens allows only side-lighting. 

And I don’t see much of help from the so-called Image-stabilizer = if it helps two

or three stops, why not just set higher ISO speed.  And having very delicate lens

shifting mechanism which is suspending the lens element in the air by the

magnetic coils or ceramic motors, it would make the lens even more sensitive to

the shock.  🙂 )

[A ring to mount the LEDs can be made from a Phenol plastic board with copper

track for electronic circuit, to even just a card-board paper (if it is just for an

experiments, 1 mm thick card-board paper would be good enough) or to mount

the LED from the the back (through a hole) = Art-mounting-board is a good choice.

(Still, precisely drilling 30, 40 holes, this work needs to have a good Zen mind.)  😀

Which ever the material, you need to find the diameter of the ring and cut the

material.  ( I think the photos here are self-explanatory. )

Use caliper to find the diameter under the bayonet to mount lens hood. 

If no caliper in hand, use right-angled paper.

Then draw the circles of its mounting diameter.  I’m using a sharpened needle

mounted on the compass to cut the paper as well.  And cut the Phenol plastic

board, I’ve clumped a cutting blade on the compass.

A paper ring cutted with diameter of the lens  and outer diameter was placed

under the bayonet and the shape of it was taken.   (To place this paper ring /

template, under the lens bayonet, the ring needs to cut on one place to open)

Then the shape of the ring and the bayonet craw was copied on the card-board paper. 

( On the card board paper, two additional circles has to be drawn, + 6 mm larger

than inside diameter and  + 8.5 mm ) — To plot the position to put LED, divide 

+ 8.5 mm circle to 8.  Then, within a semi-circle of 1/8, find equidistant point to

put LEDs — In my case every 11 mm and the holes to insert LEDs are pierced

(Photo above middle)  If you put too few LED you will have ugly multiple shadow,

or if you put too many, the battery will run-out rather soon.  It is a compromise.

(sort of the standard is, put the LED at every 8~12 mm distance )

In this design, I’m connecting all the

LEDs in parallel, and you can see

the different way to connecting them.

Left Top = if the LED came from

another device and having already

trimmed leg, you have to make sure

to insert all of them keeping the same 

direction (inside of LED you will see

narrower pin (+) and the broader pin (-),

you have to insert LED all in the same orientation, say (+) = outside of the ring.

And connect them using a wire such as from telephone cable (better polish it 

before soldering) by running it inside and outside of the LED leg alternative way.

Then you will have two wire ring on the board.

Photo Middle = If you got newly bought LEDs (assuming all of them are having 

the same color and the brightness — some are more blueish 🙂 = the cheaper you

pay, you will have headache — To insert LED’s to the board keep longer leg (+)

outside, then you just bend each leg to touch next LED and cut excess, then

solder each leg next by next = you will get two wire ring on the board.

Photo bottom = If you don’t have soldering facility yourself, and no one to ask, 

don’t worry still you can do !  = Insert all the LED to the board (such as photo

above) always keeping longer leg outside, then bend the leg towards the next

LED and twist the leg wire to next one. Then bend next one’s leg to third LED’s

leg and so on (connect last one’s leg to the first one, need to insert the leg-wire

to the gap between the board. = you needs to have a bit of work.

Use a narrow-headed pliers or tweezers would be a good help.

When you got the board, with all the LEDs were connected together, then

connect the power wire to each wire ring —> and connect to the 4xAA battery

through 2.2~10 ohm 1W register. (this is the MUST ) = If LEDs weren’t light up,

connect the battery other way round. (Change polarity )   2.2 ohm register will

give you brighter light but shorten the battery life = 20~30 LEDs will drain the

power nearly 1 A from 4xAA battery it would last less than 1 hour, but with

10 ohm, it would not be as bright though, in an intermittent use, your battery will

last much longer = it’s depend on how you are going to use it. (Put a switch to

select High and Low would be an good idea).

( The register may get hot though it is normal = pay attention to the layout and

the design for this heat problem.)

(For serious video shooting, use 2.2 ohm and 4xD battery, and make others envy.)

If only a part of the ring was lighten up, it is the point where your connection was

loose = check the connection and tighten it up. If one or two LEDs were not

lighten up, it’s mean that LED was dead and needs to replace (it’s an awkward job

= it’s better to check all the LED before hand ).

Then, fix the power cable to the ring, tie it with strong thread like the photo above

right, or use heat-gun glue.  (I’ve covered the end of the cable with heat-shrink

tube for better protection)

When everything went well, end result should looks like this.

= Voila, LED Ring Light !

(In fact, I’ve used paper one for a template to make it on a Phenol plastic

circuit board.) —– Further to this, such as where to keep or mount a

battery case is largely depend on you.

And I’ll show you my final product in the coming post.



7 Responses

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  1. 牛田 眞 said, on July 11, 2012 at 00:56


    • yoshizen said, on July 11, 2012 at 01:25

      クワバラ,クワバラ (笑)。もっとも僕は先日ずっこけて,救急車で運ばれ額を十針縫う

  2. Lemony (Gr)Egghead said, on July 11, 2012 at 01:54

    An impressive and inspiring undertaking!

    • yoshizen said, on July 11, 2012 at 02:08

      Thank you very much. In reality, the work is just laborious endless work.
      (Good for Zen practice in deed :-D)

  3. Bente Haarstad said, on July 13, 2012 at 00:57

    Interesting holy grail, Yoshizen. It’s probably the only holy grail I could believe in. Good luck with the rest of your amazing ideas. 😉

    • yoshizen said, on July 13, 2012 at 01:17

      Thank you very much Bente.
      Holy Grail because, before it was a time of Ring Flash = too expensive to buy, and the tube has
      very short life = only few photographer had actuary touched it. (It was mainly for medical photo).

  4. […] again but together with a LED Ring Light.(on Gaudy Lens) […]

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