How to Make a DIY Ring Flash [Tutorial]

How to Make a DIY Ring Flash [Tutorial]


Don’t have the budget to buy yourself a Ring Flash? Today one of our forum members Manzin (see some of his work here) shares a tutorial on how he created his own DIY Ring Flash.

You like Ring Flashes but you can’t pay the price? I have a solution for you, and it doesn’t involve stealing one from a store!

Make your own for a very very cheap price, about 20 euros. The only thing is that you need to already have a cobra flash. Ok, so let’s get started.

First Step

DIY Ring Flash Materials.jpg

What you need.

  • A plastic bowl (not too thick) whose base is about 8 cm of diameter. Your lenses need to be able to go through.
  • Another plastic bowl, but slightly smaller, but not under 8 cm. It needs to get inside the big bowl, but your lenses will also have to go through it.
  • A piece of pipe (PVC gives the best results in term of weight and toughness) about 5 cm long and 8 cm of diameter.
  • Some aluminum foil
  • A pen
  • A ton of big tape
  • A cutter
  • And you’ll need some hard glue.

Step Two

Place the pipe on the base of the big bowl, and use the pen to draw a circle. Then do the same on the small bowl.


03.jpg  04.jpg

Step Three

Take the cutter (or anything that cuts) and try to remove the circles you just drawn from the base of your plastic bowls. This can be really tough, depending on the thickness of the plastic. Mine was really hard, so it took me a while and I had to use a bunch of different tools. But, hey, I made it eventually, so you will ! Don’t forget to do the same on the small bowl.




Step Four

Place the head of your flash on the side of your big bowl, and draw around it. Then, take back all your tools, and cut out the rectangle you just made. This is the last cutting! Hang on!




Step Five

Cut sheets of alu foil, and glue them inside the big bowl, around the pipe and outside of the small bowl. You can also put some alu foil inside the small bowl, but it won’t change anything. Then again, depending of the type of plastic you chose, the glue might, or not, works. In my case, it did a pretty terrible job. So I had to tape everything. Taping is cool.






Step Six

Now you have to put everything together. It may be a bit tricky because the alu foil is not very tough, and you don’t want to rip it. Here’s what I did, and it works pretty well. Put the pipe inside the big bowl, and then put pieces of tape from the inside to the outside of the rear of the bowl. This will prevent the pipe to move, and will allow it to support his own weight plus the small bowl. Talking of witch, take the small bowl and put it on the top of the pipe, then tape around the base. This should fix it for a while. Now let got the tape, and have a look to what you’ve just did, because you’re done!


How to use it?

Great you just made it! You now have a Ring Flash that used to keep food in the fridge. So, how do you use it? Pretty easy. Insert the head of your flash in the hole on the side. Don’t push it too far, just a little bit. Use a remote wire, or use the wireless TTL of your flash. Insert your camera from the rear hole, turn on your built in flash, and enjoy the show!

Here some pics of the results. You may need to use photoshop, or any other program, to give a better look to the image, but even in raw the results a pretty good for a very low investment.

Hope you enjoyed it !

DIY Ring Flash.jpg


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Some Older Comments

  • Industrial Photographer January 19, 2012 12:57 am

    Great tutorial and working.

  • Mohamed January 16, 2012 06:37 pm

    One project to bring in my IT Geek/Macro Bug Hunter personas together. Was wondering ho to justify buying ring flash, thank you so much for the great tutorial! :)

  • Thierry July 22, 2011 09:15 am

    truly good idea to explain how to do ! but it was mostly the result on your subject i truly liked. truly brings the inner light and the depth of the skin without any wrinkle at the front and the top part is truly crisp. from memory the taste also is divine. PS The young lady is very lovely too.

  • Tom December 29, 2010 05:06 pm

    I followed this guide as closely as possible but I think my bowl was a bit too wide. I also made a uber cheap version for $1.50. Check out my blog for how I made my 2 ring flashes.

  • Bob December 13, 2010 05:36 pm

    ever thought of Using mylar instead of tinfoil? it is far more reflective.

  • Heather Buckley November 2, 2010 03:26 am

    Very interesting, I have just written some Flash Photography Tips and I thought you might find them useful.

  • computer programming tutorials August 17, 2010 09:18 pm

    Very informative to me.

  • Derick Jones May 10, 2010 07:19 pm

    With the kind of price one needs to pay for something like a ring flash, I was looking for a good DIY project to make one at home. This is brilliant. There are many people I know who would want to learn this too. I will send them this link. You have included so many pix that a how to video is not even needed. Great job!

  • CGG April 20, 2010 03:34 am

    The photos came out beautifully before going anywhere near photoshop. Thx!!!

  • Sallie April 13, 2010 11:19 am

    How about throw away foil pie pans? They come in many sizes.

  • Srinivas Akella March 22, 2010 08:18 pm

    Where there is a will, there is a way. Thanks for sharing this and saving money to many photographers who cannot afford expensive equipment and yet take great pictures.

  • Hyper Minor December 29, 2009 03:20 pm

    amazing...Thank's for your creativity It’s good idea !...I will definitely try it out.

  • Arlene N. Flesticle July 17, 2009 10:46 pm

    Harry Houdini had a ten foot weenie
    and he showed to a woman next door
    She thought it was a snake
    and hit it with a rake
    and now it's only five foot four!

    Burma Shave.

  • Loren May 22, 2009 05:47 am

    I can't figure out how the finished ring is attached to the camera body or lens. Can anybody help me out?


  • Loren May 22, 2009 04:42 am

    Would love to see photos of all the finished ringflases in use!

  • HT April 29, 2009 05:46 am

    What is Cobra Flash ?

  • alberto April 24, 2009 10:42 pm

    super! congratulations! very well described

  • Aman April 16, 2009 06:04 am

    Awesome!! I was looking for this!!

  • Rob April 14, 2009 02:10 am

    Welcome to the modern world where every dumbass with a digital camera and a penis has been hounding women to pose nude. You can't get models anymore with out having to pay.

  • Edward April 9, 2009 12:15 pm

    Sorry gang but i have to change the subject.--Please forgive How come every time you tell someone you would like to do some shots of them they automatically scream ---NUDE PHOTOGRAPHER burns my butt up. A girl my wife works with is a very nice person-I thought I told her to come up to the farm with her husband and i would do some portraits for them. I have a 21 acre farm with waterfalls and old barns. Great stuff . She started screaming nude and my wife got fired. If i was going to do some nudes i would want someone different She is nice but the last time i saw a mouth like hers it had a hook in it. HELP GANG

  • eugeneonly April 8, 2009 12:07 pm

    Thank you for your creativity. I will surely try it.

  • professional photo retouching April 8, 2009 02:58 am

    Not everybody has tons of money, I remember starting out and using every available prop to try and enhance my pics!

  • Sawyer April 8, 2009 12:51 am

    I had a similar construction. I had used the aluminum tape as Tom had suggested. It works quite well, but is a bit pricey. I paid $7 for a roll. I've detailed the construction of my ring flash on my website.

    DIY Ringflash on the Cheap

    If anyone is thinking of doing this, I'd suggest using a dremel tool to cut the plastic and for sanding the sharp edges of the plastic smooth.

  • jdub April 8, 2009 12:14 am

    i wonder if i could use something like this with the pop-up flash. then i might just use the nasty little thing that red-eyes everyone and makes everything else harsh

  • priadi April 7, 2009 03:20 pm

    It's good idea ! Thanks for sharing..

  • Andy April 7, 2009 02:11 pm

    Using a soldering iron with a very fine tip to cut out the holes in thick (ish) plastic makes really light work of that part. Just do it in a well ventilated area and be aware of the hazards associated when working with a very hot soldering iron. Painted my one silver inside and black outside, using hot glue to hold it all together and clear acrylic to reinforce certain areas. Works really well and looks the biz.

  • Gary April 7, 2009 06:08 am

    Reading through this, kept thinking of some interesting effects of instead of Al foil, different color paper or even just white paper....would be interesting.

  • hernanarango April 7, 2009 03:26 am

    I love your idea. Could you please post a photograph of your ring flash, or send it to my e-mail? Your idea for the ring flash sounds very interesting.
    Thanks a lot.

  • Di Wayne April 6, 2009 09:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing your tips I will definitely try it out.

  • NIX April 6, 2009 06:23 pm

    Thanks for the idea. Sure helps when you are in a tight budget to get a ring flash. Good work

  • Dennis Wong April 6, 2009 12:52 pm

    Awesome! Finally I find one that I can DIY myself. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ranoch-KH April 6, 2009 12:35 pm

    Wondeful! I'll try it. Thank you

  • Marvin Gore April 6, 2009 11:43 am

    Great article on the ring flash, keep up the great work this is the best site on the web!!!!!!!!!

  • Michael Ballinger April 6, 2009 10:28 am

    That's super cool, I'm definitely going to give that a try. I couldn't help but notice a large quantity of spirits in the background of your tutorial shots, that's heavy going.

  • HernánArango April 6, 2009 05:30 am

    You are a monster ! Thankyou very much.

  • Robert Johnson April 6, 2009 04:25 am

    I have been waiting for an article like this for a long time. These things have become so expensive that DIY articles like these have become very necessary.

  • gopal April 6, 2009 02:54 am

    i never thought of such a wonderful tutorial....the ring flash is a necessity for macros and portraits delivering soft light. thanks a lot.

  • Kristina April 6, 2009 02:19 am

    I have actually made one very similar to this one. It's actually quite portable. And to stabilize my flash, I cut the hole for the flash slightly bigger and fit it with a piece of cardboard that I first wrapped around my flash to make sure it would fit. I slide the flash in and out of the cardboard piece. I did not use foil, I used the foil tape. It would be nice to use stainless steel bowls . . . I wouldn't want to cut them! =)

  • Tom April 3, 2009 11:03 am

    I found some stainless steel bowls at the dollar store that might work well for this. I also wonder if aluminum foil tape from the hardware store would work as well since it already has one side sticky...

  • HS April 3, 2009 03:43 am

    Surely this one's a day late?!

  • Jeffrey Kontur April 3, 2009 02:06 am

    Nice. I love tinkering and making my own gadgets.

    I wonder if mylar wouldn't be more durable than foil. Though you probably couldn't get that crinkle effect that helps spread the light. I also see this whole setup being a bit wonky. Definitely not very portable. Though a few design modifications may help with that. I'd have to give it some thought.

  • Kumaran April 3, 2009 01:43 am

    You are the best...wonderful..Very useful for me...thanks.