Field Review: The Orbis (Day 1)

Ring Flash—it’s the type of strobe that many photographers love for the effect it gives off. Orbis recently sent me a copy for review and it is turning out to almost live on my Canon 430 EX II. Let’s start this review.

What is a ring flash?

Originally developed for dentists needing to illuminate areas for…dental work…ring flashes were curved light tubes that went around the lens of a camera to evenly light dark area. However, photographers got a hold of the units and loved the effect. And so, the ring flash came into use.

Ring flashes are used often in portraiture, events, at weddings, in fashion, etc. Perhaps most notable is their uses in macro work.

Modern day ring flashes come in various different types. Canon for example has the MR-14EX TTL and the more powerful MT-24 EX. These units have a commander area that goes into the hot shoe of the camera with the lights going around the lens. The former only works with Macro lenses unfortunately. Nikon’s SU-800 also tends to be quite a bit more advanced with wireless control of the unit.

Then you’ve got the Orbis. The Orbis is literally a giant ring that utilizes your current flashes and turn them into a ring flash. The giant hole in the middle is for the photographer to place their lens into. Users can hand hold the flashes or use a bracket like pictured above. I’ve used both as the Canon 7Dhas wireless flash control. The Orbis can come by itselfor you can purchase the arm bracketor get them together in a special package(which you would probably prefer anyway.)

How does the Orbis work?

The Orbis comes with a special felt pad that you paste onto the back of the head of your flash or if you can, into the giant port of the Orbis itself. It then slides right over your flash as you angle the head upwards. Then, set your flash to slave mode and fire away.

Since I’m using the weaker 430 EX III’ve needed to crank up the power using the 7D. Stronger, powerful and more expensive flashes like the 580 EX II, Nikon SB-900and the brand new Nikon SB-700will be able to give off loads more power.

How do the results look?

My usual dancers, theater majors, actresses, were out of town (or sick as I am as I write this posting) and so I used my sister and the wall in my room. Here are some of the results. The flash tends to give off some really nice, flat and event results and it best used close up to your subject.

For more info check out:

the orbis(tm) flickr group
the youtube channel
Our new gadget, the frio(tm)

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.