Testing the Orbis ring flash

I’ve finally got around to testing the Orbis ring flash I got a few weeks ago. It’s essentially an adapter that fits onto your speedlight and evenly lights a subject in an almost 3D shadowless light. Used to be pretty big in the 90’s, especially with fashion togs. They are currently making a bit of a come-back with the likes of Jill Greenberg.


There are several of these adapters on the market; however there are a couple reasons that made the Orbis stand out for me: Firstly, it is not connected to the camera body via the hot shoe (this is also one of the downsides, more to come on that later). This should avoid your hot shoe snapping off, something that wont be cheap to get fixed back on. The second thing that drew me to the Orbis again is that it does not use the hot shoe. Why is this worth repeating? By not utilising the hot shoe to connect the ring flash means you can fix a trigger to the hot shoe instead, which then allows you to trigger both the ring flash and as many other lights as you like wirelessly (you could fire other lights with the ring flash on your hot shoe, but you would require either a line of sight or a sync cable- neither of which are methods I want to be limited by). This was a major thing to me when deciding to get the Orbis, as although I like images lit only by a ring flash, I wanted to be able to experiment creatively using the ring flash in addition to other lights.


So…on to the testing!


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Charlene against the perimeter of a concrete 1960’s car park in London. Ring flash on a Nikon speedlight, dragged shutter in addition to 2nd speedlight behind Charlene accounts for the heavy backlight.


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Nhuc in a covered garage. Ring flash up close to give those classic catch lights with a 2nd speedlight snooted and up high directly behind the model to give a slight rim light.



Pros:
Designed to fit (almost) any speedlight.
Beautiful authentic ring flash light.
Is well made.
Can also be effective used off-camera…more on that in a later post…

Cons:
The biggest downer is that it is pretty cumbersome and takes a bit of getting used to holding. I am led to believe however that the manufacturers are working on a bracket to connect it to your camera body.
If you are on 100 ISO your gonna need to be firing full power as the diffusion material takes at least a stop of light out. This is gonna increase your recycle time, which in turn will slow down your shooting speed.