Field Review: ExpoImaging Ray Flash (Day 3- More Fun Portraits)

By far, I’m going to have to say that the ExpoImaging Ray Flash has my vote as the best Ring Flash attachment to use. The other day, my friend Steph and I got together and had some fun photoshoot time in her room as she helped me finish the testing of the Ray Flash. A while ago, I used it on former Premium Compact Specialist Will Greenwald. Hit the jump to see how this shoot went.

Gear Used

Canon 5D Mk II

Rokinon 85mm F/1.4

Canon 580 EX II

ExpoImaging Ray Flash

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Review: Canon 35mm F/1.4 L USM Lens

With Canon Glass

The opening image of this story was shot with the Canon 35mm F/1.4 L. I had Steph dress up and sit on her bed while I stood on her piano bench and shot her from up above. This shoot taught me one thing: thank goodness for autofocus. If you’ve been following the Rokinon review, you’ll know that it’s manual focus.

Either way, the Canon 35mm F/1.4 L is the one lens that I feel goes perfectly with the Ray Flash for a couple of reasons:

– With the lens hood, it’s held perfectly in place.

– It’s physically long enough to not jut out beyond the Ray Flash when mounted on-camera.

– It’s wide and fast enough to add lots of versatility to your portraits.

– It just feels right.

I’ve used the Ray Flash with other lenses previously, but the 35mm F/1.4 just seems to be the lens that works the best with it. With that said, I’d actually leave the 24-70mm F/2.8 at home if you were going to use this.

With Rokinon Glass

The Rokinon lens is similar in size to the Canon 35mm F/1.4 L and also has a lens hood that holds the Ray Flash in place just perfectly. Of any 85mm lens I’ve used, I’d stick to this one due to the F/1.4 fast aperture and also due to the way that I love the way it renders skin tones and overall colors in the images.

Once again, I’d recommend using a split focusing screen with it though. Otherwise, it can be like trying to tame a bear riding a shark riding a velociraptor with lasers on their heads.

Thoughts On Ease of Use

The ExpoImaging Ray Flash has to be the easiest to use of the ring flash attachments that I’ve fiddled with. It stays onto your camera’s flash while the flash is mounted into the hot shoe and therefore the entire package will always stay tightly stuck together. Since the units stick together so well, it will also hardwire your mind into shooting with the ring flash straight on. Conversely, the Orbis (a competing product) makes for a wonderful softbox on the side while also being a great ring flash. We reviewed the Orbis not long ago.

For the photographer that sets up a photo booth at a party, this can be a joy to use because it will mean that you can ditch the tripod, radio receiver and tripod due to the fact that it’s all sticking together.

Granted though, I find it best used while your flash is in manual mode. That means that E-TTL users can either adjust their apertures or exposure compensation settings accordingly or they can learn more about the actual process and manual flash output.

Quality of Light

The Ray Flash’s special design evenly distributes the flash output along the center ring. Because it’s also so thin, it can direct it out into a more focused beam of light. What helps even more is putting gaffer’s tape on the inside of the ring to prevent all light loss.

Using the Ray Flash gives me that million dollar ring flash look that is often seen in ads and high end commercial photos. Granted, those flashes are much better, but in the right hands and with the right settings the look can be mimicked.

Throughout my use, I honestly have to say that I’ve never had a problem with the Ray Flash’s light output except that sometimes its a bit too neutral for me. I wish that an attachment were made to warm the flash output a bit more for even better skin tones.

The reps from ExpoImaging have told me that there is only about a one-stop loss of light, so your calculations to adjust accordingly will be much simpler. Additionally, the battery life of your flash will thank you.

And coming soon, we give you the full summation.

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Chris Gampat

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