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A Look at the Orbis Ring Flash

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Today, we'll review the Orbis Ring Flash a ring flash designed to fit onto any flashgun in order to transform the harsh light into softer and more beautiful light.


What is it?

Orbis is a non-electrical attachment that you simply slip your flashfun onto in order to transform the harsh light from your SLR flashgun to create beautiful, shadowless photos quickly and easily. You don’t need any specialised knowledge or technique. The Orbis fits any flashgun in seconds – no bulbs, no batteries, no training course.

The Orbis is available for $199.99 or £188.00 in the UK.

Copyright Peter Sawyer ©


What's in the box?

If you choose to purchase the Orbis, you'll receive a well packaged box with the Orbis system and then a few extras including a carry bag, extra padding for smaller flashguns, a neck strap and some really informative instructions with some really good tips on using the product as well as a load of info about histograms.


First thoughts

The Orbis arrived and I was surprised at the size measuring 20cm wide, 26cm tall and 6cm deep. The inner circle was amazingly even able to fit around my 10-22mm lens, which has a large 77mm thread size.

The Orbis is completely plastic and therefore it only weighs around 500 grams, which doesn't add too much load to my gear while out and about. Unfortunately due to the size it doesn't really fit into my camera bag, however I simply used the provided bag and tied it onto the outside.

At first I found it quite difficult to get my Nissin Di866 onto the orbis, however after a couple of goes it became a lot easier and you quickly learn the easiest way to get it on. In the box, there are a couple of pads that you can glue onto the edges of orbis if you own a smaller flashgun.


Using the product

To use the product you need to have a off-camera flash solution such as a off camera cord, wireless trigger or a optical trigger. Some cameras such as my own (Canon 7D) are able to shoot off camera using the IR however this is not always ideal.

When shooting with the Orbis, you have to have one hand gripping the flash and one hand on your camera. This is slightly annoying if like myself you own a larger DSLR which is quite heavy (then add the weight of you lens). It also restricts you from being able to easily zoom or manually focus. However the designers of Orbis have actually solved this issue by releasing a arm that attaches your flash/Orbis and your camera together. The arm is an extra $50, however if shooting portraits of people or animals then I would suggest purchasing the arm as otherwise your job becomes very difficult indeed.


Product Photography

The Orbis is very impressive when it comes to product photography. I placed my camera on a tripod and set then set the camera manually as well as manually focusing so that each picture came out the same. This gave me a free hand in order to play around with the Orbis.

The picture below was with the orbis from directly in front however it produced brilliant results from behind and above.

It was quite interesting to see that the Orbis produced the darkest shot - compared to even natural light. If you have a weaker flashgun I would be very tempted to adjust the shutter to allow more ambient light into the lens to act as fill.

Overall, I felt the Orbis improved my product photos and it produced quite natural looking shots.

Copyright Peter Sawyer © I am not paid to endorse Jack Daniels, it was the simply the first bottle I grabbed.


Portrait Photography

Unfortunately the people I took pictures of asked that their photos were not placed online, so I don't have any of my own examples however you can get a good idea of the feel the Orbis gives you by looking at the Orbis Flickr Group. Be aware there are a couple of soft nude shots.

I found the Orbis to be great for portraits. The size of the device works well and it produces a nice soft ring around the subject.

Image shot by Dave77459


Macro Photography

Due to the larger size of the Orbis it is not quite as a good as a dedicated macro ring flash. A lot of the light is wasted compared to a portrait shot.

However that said it produced a nice soft lighting effect. However, I would point out that I felt all my photos needed slightly brightening in Adobe Photoshop.


Similar Products on the market:

Rayflash

The Rayflash is priced very closely to the Orbis at $199.95. (4 cents cheaper!). Unlike the Orbis the Rayflash has to be specific to the flashgun you own, which means that if you upgrade your flash in the future there is a good chance the Rayflash will not fit.

The ray flash is used on camera and places a fair load on your hot shoe as well as blocking any sensors on the front of your flash. Also due to the slight curve on the ray flash it doesn't pack quite as easily into your bag.

The Ring Flash Adapter - O flash.

Priced at just $40.00 there is a big difference in price. If you are looking for that soft ring flash glow for an inexpensive price then you might have just found your solution.

However like the Rayflash it shares the same problems, such as the heavy load on your hot shoe as well as the non-flat shape.


Overall thoughts

Positive:

  • The Orbis feels well made and that it isn't going to shatter without some brute force.
  • It produces some great professional results with beautiful soft light.
  • It fits almost all flashguns on the market. (except really chunky flashes such as the Vivitar 285 or Cactus KF3)
  • You can use it effectively as small soft box.
  • Great for use as a main light or a fill light.

Negative:

  • It feels a tad pricey for a plastic ring.
  • Hard to use without the Orbis Bracket.
  • Needs a powerful flashgun for best results.
  • You need to own or purchase an off-camera cable or wireless trigger to achieve the best results.

The Orbis produces deals wonderfully with product photography, portraits and macro. I would recommend it to amateur photographers and anyone on a budget, however if you are a professional or shoot lots of weddings/portraits then personally I would spend the extra money and purchase a full lighting system such Alien Bees Ringflash unit or a Canon MR-14EX.

Thanks For Reading!

Have you used the Orbis flash system or another ring flash? Place your own thoughts about your favourite products.

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