LED there be Light
(August 2003)

A D.I.Y. Bright White LED Ringlight.

I want to take real close up (4-10cm) digital macro shots with a magnification of 1:2.5 to 1:1. Now your high-end Nikon, Canon, Kodak and other digital SLRs are much too sophisticated and expensive for my needs. So I bought a more humble and moderately priced Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1, which features a superb Leica 12x Zoomlens with constant f:2.8 aperture throughout its entire zoom range. But because it lacks an external flash synchronisation and has only limited manual settings, I cannot use my Sunpak Ring Flash and I had to find another close up lighting solution.

So I built this LED Ringlight CisKay Mark 1 for my camera. Within the constraints of my requirements (macrophotography at 5-10 cm distance) this LED solution proved itself far superior to any commercially available ringlight, LED, fibre-optic or otherwise.

If yours is a different model camera, then you'll have to adapt the inner diameter of your ringlight. But I'm sure you can construct one to fit your camera, provided it has a fixed lens barrel. Otherwise you'll need a threaded adapter on the inner ring.



Construction:

Preliminary Study:




Actual Prototype:

  1. Housing
  2. Electronics
  3. Power Switch
  4. Camera Modification
  5. Final Assembly
Results:
  1. Ringlight On Camera
  2. Sample Shots

Links to sites about Bright White LED Ringlights:



1. Housing:
  • 1 coupling for plastic gutter drain pipe 80 mm diameter (dark brown). The wide half of the coupling (80 mm internal diameter) becomes the outer ring, the narrower half (originally 76 mm internal diameter, now reduced to 59 mm internal) becomes the inner ring, while the transition between wide and narrow parts remains with the outer ring to increase its rigidity. To both rings I bonded small resin tags (red) to position and retain the LED-carrying ring. The inner ring also gets 6 small half-spherical resin tags (gray) to fit into corresponding slots in the lens barrel. A rubber band provides spring action to the latter 6 tags.
  • 1 heat-resistant polyester board to become the LED-carrying ring.
  • 1 housing for electronic circuitry (gray), modified to fit LED-ring and outer ring.
  • 1 piece of bicycle inner tube (the spring action rubber band).



2. Electronics:
  • 24 bright white LEDs, 6.000 mcd, 30° beam spread
  • 1 voltage regulator set to 4.5 V output, actually a simplified Velleman® kit
  • 2 Lithium batteries 3.6 V , size ½ AA, to be connected in series
  • 1 micro pushbutton switch
  • various male and female connectors (shown in electronics assembly)





3. Power Switch:
  • 1 micro pushbutton switch
  • 14 cm double insulated single-strand copper wire, rated @ 500 mA
  • heat resistant polyester board
  • 14 cm black shrink sleeve
  • self-curing fast-setting resin
  • a circular patch of self-adhesive velcro






4. Camera Modification
  • White position markers
  • Shallow half-spherical positioning slots




5. Final Assembly:

As a finishing touch I applied 2 coats of black satin lacquer.




6. Ringlight On Camera:




Top View:




Left View:




7. Sample Shots:

All images shown here were down-sized. The originals are 1.600 x 1.200, 32 bit, 750-800 MB.



Shot below taken May 2006. All other shots on this page taken in 2003.





My old photochemical system. Much too unwieldy.
For large blow-ups I used to deploy (what other verb for such a system?) the format 120 Rolleicord DLR (third from top left).




My present system (August 2003), which fully satisfies my wishes !
The antique 50-year-old Zeiss Ikon camera (second from top left), lens bellows extended, produces excellent resolution on 50x50 mm negatives (matched by my Rolleicord and, of course, by Hasselblad and Mamiya too) for the rare blow-up. IMHO this camera for 120 format film is remarkably compact, especially when closed, wouldn't you agree?
The Sunpak flash unit gets used for distances above 5 m. The Metz Mecalux 11 remote flash trigger is modified (diminished sensitivity, see Ciskay Slave Flash) to work with the Lumix camera.

And due to the lesser weight, I get a better mileage out of my bicycle.




Conclusion:

To force my camera into a higher f-stop and get a wider depth of field, I would like more light output.
Therefore my Ringlight CisKay Mark 2 will be constructed along the same design, but shall have ±78 super bright white LEDs (9.000 mcd each) and for the LEDs a real PCB too.


Links to sites about Bright White LED Ringlights:
list compiled 16 August 2003. Updated 6 October 2004

Hobby:
brainerror.net
www.4and1.de
www.beepworld.de
www.danninger-online.de
www.emling-online.de
www.photoprojects.net
www.tnknet.com

Commercial photo-dedicated:
www.dentaleyes.com/
www.dentalfoto.com
www.dentalfotografie.info/
www.dentic.de
www.phytec.de

Industrial optical:
www.advancedillumination.com
www.bipol.fr
www.ccs-inc.co.jp
www.edmundoptics.com
www.keyence.fr
www.latab.se
www.laser2000.fr
www.orled.com
www.ryfag.ch
www.scholzsue.de
www.schott.com
www.silloptics.com
www.spectrumillumination.com
www.stemmer-imaging.de
www.stockeryale.com
www.stud.tu-ilmenau.de
www.volpi.ch
www.weiss-imaging.de

Discussion:
groups.google.com
oly-e.de
www.photo.net