Ring light for my camera

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
Pendraggon87 Junior Member • Posts: 42
Ring light for my camera

I'm looking to use my camera (Sony A7RIII) as a webcam, and am looking for an OK ring light to use.  My lighting in my apartment isn't the best, and a ring light will definitely help.

I tried buying one of those ring lights that screw into the filter thread of the camera lens, but the vignetting was really bad, though the lighting was great.  My current though in an ideal world is to find a tripod I can use on my desk (need a sturdy one with flat feet - my desk can move up and down), have a ring light attached and mount the camera inside the ring light.

However, all the lights I see on Amazon I can't figure out which ones will let me use an attachment to mount my camera and not a cell phone.  Ideally trying to spend around $50 if possible.

Any ideas?

(Also, if anyone has experience using the A7RIII as a webcam without a capture card, and without having to use OBS to mirror the Sony Remote app, please let me know :D)

tugwilson Senior Member • Posts: 2,660
Re: Ring light for my camera

Pendraggon87 wrote:

I'm looking to use my camera (Sony A7RIII) as a webcam, and am looking for an OK ring light to use. My lighting in my apartment isn't the best, and a ring light will definitely help.

I tried buying one of those ring lights that screw into the filter thread of the camera lens, but the vignetting was really bad, though the lighting was great. My current though in an ideal world is to find a tripod I can use on my desk (need a sturdy one with flat feet - my desk can move up and down), have a ring light attached and mount the camera inside the ring light.

However, all the lights I see on Amazon I can't figure out which ones will let me use an attachment to mount my camera and not a cell phone. Ideally trying to spend around $50 if possible.

Any ideas?

Put you camera on a tripod and put the ring light on a light stand in front of the camera so that the lens is in the middle of it. Don't try to mount an expensive camera on a cheap ring light.

OP Pendraggon87 Junior Member • Posts: 42
Re: Ring light for my camera

tugwilson wrote:

Pendraggon87 wrote:

I'm looking to use my camera (Sony A7RIII) as a webcam, and am looking for an OK ring light to use. My lighting in my apartment isn't the best, and a ring light will definitely help.

I tried buying one of those ring lights that screw into the filter thread of the camera lens, but the vignetting was really bad, though the lighting was great. My current though in an ideal world is to find a tripod I can use on my desk (need a sturdy one with flat feet - my desk can move up and down), have a ring light attached and mount the camera inside the ring light.

However, all the lights I see on Amazon I can't figure out which ones will let me use an attachment to mount my camera and not a cell phone. Ideally trying to spend around $50 if possible.

Any ideas?

Put you camera on a tripod and put the ring light on a light stand in front of the camera so that the lens is in the middle of it. Don't try to mount an expensive camera on a cheap ring light.

Only concern with that approach is that I would end up needing a LOT of space - first for the camera tripod and then the ring tripod in front - any thoughts on a way to have space saving stands?  In my ideal world I would have something on my desk, or clamped on my desk, behind my monitor or to the side of it.  Right now the desk is flush against the wall, but I can probably move it back a foot.

I was really hoping the cheap ring light attached to the camera lens filter thread would do it, but unless I zoom in at 72mm I get vignetting pretty bad with the white light.

(dumb side question - my current process is to just use Sony's Remote tool, and then OBS studio to cast that - i can probably crop that so that it ignores the white ring, but is there any potential for damage to the camera using this so much - is it dumb to be worried about that bright light in the lens on a regular basis (besides the battery draining from both the camera and the mounted ring light attached))?

MOD KayL Regular Member • Posts: 492
Re: Ring light for my camera

I've been looking into this myself for videoconferencing. Perhaps a regular LED panel with some diffusion on a separate stand is a better solution than the webcam ringlight. The mini ringlights used by some streamers seem to be too small for their purpose and end up looking about the same as a point light source.

Another option could be an LED tube (something like a Westcott Ice Light) set horizontally above the monitor, or two of them standing up vertically next to your monitor. Probably won't be within your $50 budget though.

How about McGyvering some LED strips around your monitor bezel?

As for capture cards/dongles... I get what you're saying... haven't been able to find an Elgato Camlink anywhere for months.

 KayL's gear list:KayL's gear list
Kodak DC215
tugwilson Senior Member • Posts: 2,660
Re: Ring light for my camera

Pendraggon87 wrote:

tugwilson wrote:

Put you camera on a tripod and put the ring light on a light stand in front of the camera so that the lens is in the middle of it. Don't try to mount an expensive camera on a cheap ring light.

Only concern with that approach is that I would end up needing a LOT of space - first for the camera tripod and then the ring tripod in front - any thoughts on a way to have space saving stands? In my ideal world I would have something on my desk, or clamped on my desk, behind my monitor or to the side of it. Right now the desk is flush against the wall, but I can probably move it back a foot.

I was really hoping the cheap ring light attached to the camera lens filter thread would do it, but unless I zoom in at 72mm I get vignetting pretty bad with the white light.

You need a far bigger ring light than this. It's designed for macro work, the light spread is entirely wrong for what you are trying to do.

For the setup you describe you could use a superclamp and a flexible arm. If you look hard enough you can find cheaper copies of these items.

If you aren't wedded to the idea if ring lights there are lots of ways to do it. This is what JoeMcNally does. He's using expensive stuff from his sponsors but you can do it just as well for a fraction of the price if you shop around.

OP Pendraggon87 Junior Member • Posts: 42
Re: Ring light for my camera

Kelvin L wrote:

I've been looking into this myself for videoconferencing. Perhaps a regular LED panel with some diffusion on a separate stand is a better solution than the webcam ringlight. The mini ringlights used by some streamers seem to be too small for their purpose and end up looking about the same as a point light source.

Another option could be an LED tube (something like a Westcott Ice Light) set horizontally above the monitor, or two of them standing up vertically next to your monitor. Probably won't be within your $50 budget though.

How about McGyvering some LED strips around your monitor bezel?

As for capture cards/dongles... I get what you're saying... haven't been able to find an Elgato Camlink anywhere for months.

Was actually looking at something like this: https://lumecube.com/collections/streaming/products/video-conference-lighting-kit-for-remote-workers

The ring light was an idea just because I had a bit more familiarity with them, but trying to find a good setup seems challenging - I really would have loved to find a ring light where I can mount a camera inside it, but it seems tough to find one that's affordable.

MOD KayL Regular Member • Posts: 492
Re: Ring light for my camera

Pendraggon87 wrote:

Was actually looking at something like this: https://lumecube.com/collections/streaming/products/video-conference-lighting-kit-for-remote-workers

The ring light was an idea just because I had a bit more familiarity with them, but trying to find a good setup seems challenging - I really would have loved to find a ring light where I can mount a camera inside it, but it seems tough to find one that's affordable.

Yes something like the Lumecube seems more versatile, although you might have more options elsewhere such as the Aputure Amaran series.

IMHO there's no aesthetic advantage to using a ringlight for the face (versus a panel) unless the ring is bigger than your head - e.g. Godox LR160.

 KayL's gear list:KayL's gear list
Kodak DC215
OP Pendraggon87 Junior Member • Posts: 42
Re: Ring light for my camera

Kelvin L wrote:

Pendraggon87 wrote:

Was actually looking at something like this: https://lumecube.com/collections/streaming/products/video-conference-lighting-kit-for-remote-workers

The ring light was an idea just because I had a bit more familiarity with them, but trying to find a good setup seems challenging - I really would have loved to find a ring light where I can mount a camera inside it, but it seems tough to find one that's affordable.

Yes something like the Lumecube seems more versatile, although you might have more options elsewhere such as the Aputure Amaran series.

IMHO there's no aesthetic advantage to using a ringlight for the face (versus a panel) unless the ring is bigger than your head - e.g. Godox LR160.

Any good recommendations on tripods or stands? I have a nice sirui tripod but it's not really meant for a desk.

I did find https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0784SSRZS/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_HNFqFbSYNE43B which is a ring light with camera mount, but seems lightweight and I'm scared for my new a7riii

OP Pendraggon87 Junior Member • Posts: 42
Re: Ring light for my camera

Pendraggon87 wrote:

Kelvin L wrote:

Pendraggon87 wrote:

Was actually looking at something like this: https://lumecube.com/collections/streaming/products/video-conference-lighting-kit-for-remote-workers

The ring light was an idea just because I had a bit more familiarity with them, but trying to find a good setup seems challenging - I really would have loved to find a ring light where I can mount a camera inside it, but it seems tough to find one that's affordable.

Yes something like the Lumecube seems more versatile, although you might have more options elsewhere such as the Aputure Amaran series.

IMHO there's no aesthetic advantage to using a ringlight for the face (versus a panel) unless the ring is bigger than your head - e.g. Godox LR160.

Any good recommendations on tripods or stands? I have a nice sirui tripod but it's not really meant for a desk.

I did find https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0784SSRZS/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_HNFqFbSYNE43B which is a ring light with camera mount, but seems lightweight and I'm scared for my new a7riii

Ended up buying an Aputure M9 (https://www.amazon.com/Aputure-AL-M9-Amaran-Light-Camera/dp/B01ITRLJIW).  My only concern is staring into a camera with a bright LED on top.

Looking at other people's setup photos on Reddit, I see a lot of cases where the light(s) are on either side of the person, with the camera in the center.  Is that preferred? (I mostly shoot landscapes, so super unfamiliar with lighting a person).  I am on calls a LOT and don't want to hurt my eyes, but the lighting in my apartment is poor - currently my desk faces a wall and has windows far behind me.  I can rotate 90 degrees if needed - only one large monitor on my desk.

tugwilson Senior Member • Posts: 2,660
Re: Ring light for my camera

Pendraggon87 wrote:

Ended up buying an Aputure M9 (https://www.amazon.com/Aputure-AL-M9-Amaran-Light-Camera/dp/B01ITRLJIW). My only concern is staring into a camera with a bright LED on top.

Looking at other people's setup photos on Reddit, I see a lot of cases where the light(s) are on either side of the person, with the camera in the center. Is that preferred? (I mostly shoot landscapes, so super unfamiliar with lighting a person). I am on calls a LOT and don't want to hurt my eyes, but the lighting in my apartment is poor - currently my desk faces a wall and has windows far behind me. I can rotate 90 degrees if needed - only one large monitor on my desk.

The M9 is a nice light and is used a lot by gaffers to do things like light difficult small spaces. It's not a great key light because it's so small.

If we are lighting faces we generally want soft light. Soft light throws very soft edged shadows. If you light a face with soft light any skin imperfections are lots less apparent than if you use hard light because wrinkles and pimples throw shadows.  You make a soft light by using light with a large surface area as close to the subject as you can manage. A small light will always produce hard light.

We also generally don't light the face head on. Again this is because of the shadows. If the light is falling on your nose from a light right in front of it you will get the impression of a flat face. You want your node to throw a shadow so the viewer will get a 3D effect.

If you light the face from two sides, ideally with two reasonably large rectangular lights, Then you will get semi soft light. because the light is falling on the face from two directions the shadows will have sort of soft edges.

However if the lights are the same brightness your nose will throw two shadows which may look a bit strange. I've never done this but I would expect I spend some time trying different light placements with lights of different  brightness.

OP Pendraggon87 Junior Member • Posts: 42
Re: Ring light for my camera

tugwilson wrote:

Pendraggon87 wrote:

Ended up buying an Aputure M9 (https://www.amazon.com/Aputure-AL-M9-Amaran-Light-Camera/dp/B01ITRLJIW). My only concern is staring into a camera with a bright LED on top.

Looking at other people's setup photos on Reddit, I see a lot of cases where the light(s) are on either side of the person, with the camera in the center. Is that preferred? (I mostly shoot landscapes, so super unfamiliar with lighting a person). I am on calls a LOT and don't want to hurt my eyes, but the lighting in my apartment is poor - currently my desk faces a wall and has windows far behind me. I can rotate 90 degrees if needed - only one large monitor on my desk.

The M9 is a nice light and is used a lot by gaffers to do things like light difficult small spaces. It's not a great key light because it's so small.

If we are lighting faces we generally want soft light. Soft light throws very soft edged shadows. If you light a face with soft light any skin imperfections are lots less apparent than if you use hard light because wrinkles and pimples throw shadows. You make a soft light by using light with a large surface area as close to the subject as you can manage. A small light will always produce hard light.

We also generally don't light the face head on. Again this is because of the shadows. If the light is falling on your nose from a light right in front of it you will get the impression of a flat face. You want your node to throw a shadow so the viewer will get a 3D effect.

If you light the face from two sides, ideally with two reasonably large rectangular lights, Then you will get semi soft light. because the light is falling on the face from two directions the shadows will have sort of soft edges.

However if the lights are the same brightness your nose will throw two shadows which may look a bit strange. I've never done this but I would expect I spend some time trying different light placements with lights of different brightness.

Thanks for the advice!  Looks like I should then think of having maybe one light to each side of the monitor, and the camera propped above the monitor? Seems maybe I should return that M9 then, since it mounts to the camera and would be facing right down on me.

My ideal world would have been a ring light with a mount for a camera, just because then I use the least amount of real estate and get the even lighting with the camera that can be used as a webcam.

My biggest challenge is really how to get my mirrorless above my monitor - my super ideal world would have had me using a desk clamp stand that was slightly higher than the monitor (need about 2' from desk surface to top of monitor).  My desk is a standing desk so it's more ideal to have that clamp, but I just can't seem to find anything affordable or in stock.

The other options are move my desk from the wall, and put a tripod behind it with the camera, and another light stand slightly to the side?

MOD KayL Regular Member • Posts: 492
Re: Ring light for my camera

Pendraggon87 wrote:

Seems maybe I should return that M9 then, since it mounts to the camera and would be facing right down on me.

The M9 is fine for basic videoconference, try diffusing it through some tracing paper or bouncing the light off the wall behind your computer. You don't have to anchor it to the camera; you can take it off the camera and tape/putty/velcro it to your monitor, or wherever you like.

The decision on getting more lights depends on your end goal and budget. Yes 2 lights is better, so is 3 or 4... but for 1080p Zoom chats (which probably end up being downsampled to 360-720p anyway) just a little frontal fill is fine.

My biggest challenge is really how to get my mirrorless above my monitor

RAM mount is an option; also Manfrotto super clamp with magic arm.

Postscript: I have a dual monitor setup and I'm lazy... I open MS Word on the second monitor, and that works as the key light. 27" softbox by Dell

 KayL's gear list:KayL's gear list
Kodak DC215
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads