Ring light or ring flashes are a classic of photography or at least one classic when we think about photography around the 90s, but we can do a lot more with a ring flash, and the new Godox R200 will be a great addition for any photographer looking for a different look for their flash photography.
Flashes in general aren’t easy to master, that is why we have a lot of people scared of using additional light in their photography, the results can go wrong real quick.
If you don’t know how to control your lights you are in trouble, if you don’t know the different light qualities you are in trouble if you don’t know how to blend your ambient with your flash you are in trouble.
But when you know all things or at least respect most of these, your photography can benefit from a lot of good additional light other than the ambient.
The major problem I see with people starting out with flashes is the control over the shadows, that not always are on point. This can make or break your photos.
Or most often than not, people use their camera flash to “achieve” the flash photography look, which when not used correctly can give us are unpleasant light on the face of the talent.
For these reasons, I always advise people to use an off-camera flash setup to introduce light to their photography. But what if you bring your flash in axis with your lens? Does this setup can help your photography in some way>
That is the question I will try to answer today with the help of the newly introduced R200 Ring Flash head for the Godox AD 200.
Godox R200 Ring Flash head
First a disclaimer. Godox sent me this unit for testing and to write this review. And as always all opinions here are mine and Godox did not get to read it before its post.
The Godox R200 ring flash head is the new unit launched to be adopted on the well-known Godox AD200, and if I am not mistaken is one of the most successful products of the brand.
This ring flash comes to the market to add a new option for us as photographers to source light.
It can be used on axis with your lenses, but also it can be used off camera or modified with gels, honeycombs, and reflectors.
A ring flash is not something new to the light equipment that we use day-to-day, but for sure is one of the least talked about types of lights that we have at our disposal.
I received a pre-production unit, and it came with very few quirks for being a pre-production unit, I would say that other than the official packaging I got everything that I was supposed to get.
The construction is on par with Godox standards, and that is a good thing because you will receive something similar in quality to the AD200 that you will adapt to this ring flash head.
The bracket is well constructed and can be collapsed very easily to fit in most backpacks. One thesis that I would like to see on this bracket is a better system to mount it on a tripod, sometimes the actual system can get a little finick, but It’s nothing that makes using it impossible.
One thing that you will have to keep in mind is that you will need to have some sort of pouch to carry your AD200 while shooting because the unit does not come with a carrying pouch.
But overall I can say that the R200 is a well-built unit, and it has been working reliably since it arrived here for testing. If you have any Godox product in your arsenal, you can expect the same level of quality from the R200
When talking about flashes, strobes, or any other light source, we need to take into consideration the light quality. And I am glad to say that the R200 produces very good light in terms of output and color accuracy.
The output is around 2 to 2/5 stops darker than the Fresnel head of the AD200, which is completely understandable when you take into consideration that the R200 will spread more of the light beans whereas the AD200 Fresnel head will give you a more concentrated beam of light.
Talking about the color accuracy, the R200 behaves very well with a bit of magenta tint, with for most users it’s not a problem. But if you are trying to balance it with natural light, you will need to use a gel to adjust for this variation.
Where and how to use
This is something that we will have to discuss a little further because a ring light can be used in more than one way.
Normally, people think that a ring light only serves as a light that will be somewhat attached to your lenses and produce an in-axis beam of light, to some extent this is right.
If you are using a ring light on the axis, you will produce a direct light, and normally this is the type of light that is used to give your subject a very sharp look that we normally see in some high professional fashion photography.
One huge clue that a ring flash was used on a portrait is the catch light with a clear reflection of a circle in the eye of the talent.
Using a ring light in portraits can be very challenging sometime, we are used to seeing this type of light coming direct from the camera lens in our day to day.
Using a ring light in portraits can be very challenging sometimes, we are used to seeing this type of light coming directly from the camera lens in our day-to-day.
And I will say at the begging working with it a struggled a bit, but when I remembered all streetwear fashion or skate fashion from the 90s everything clicked.
For portraits, you can use this light to produce super punchy photos with tons of personality, or you can be more subtle with it and just use it as a compliment. I’ve used it both ways, and to my taste, I will use it more as a complement for the majority of the time.
The R200 can produce that very sharp look that you see in some fashion magazines. But with the light coming right from the lens barrel, it gives you that sense that something is out of place, at least at the beginning.
But when you realized that this light is used to emphasize what is in front of the lens, all the light starts to make sense, and you will feel much more comfortable photographing with it.
For sure if you overdo your light you will get that gungy look from the skate culture of the 90s, but it is a look that you may be tasked to get, and maybe a ring flash will be your saving grace.
But it also can help to get a more clean portrait, and you can also use it to complement other lights. Which is the case with the portraits below.
You will get all the benefits of an off-camera flash to shape your light the way you like, but also right on the lens, you have your fill light to help you lift some shadows. Better of both worlds.
With you can produce shots that are super clean and with that ring flash sharp look, but also with the contouring and personality of an off-camera light.
Above, you can see how the Godox R200 was used to help me in some portraits, with super clean and sharp lighting. One thing that you have to keep in mind with this setup is because the ring flash is coming from an on-axis angle, it will mix much more with any other light that you are using.
Therefore, you will have to play carefully with your ratios, where the illuminated part of the face, just an example, is the sum of both lights that I had on set on the shots above.
But this type of flash can be also used for product photography if you are looking for a very clean look with minimal shadows on the face of the product.
And here is a simple shot that you can get with the help of the RS 200, it’s a 3-light setup for products using the ring flash as a front light in the axis to fill the face with the product and give it a little whoomph!
Breaking down this light setup is very easy as you can see, and we can have all the elements of a 3 traditional light setup.
A subtle but effective main light, which will help to give us context on what this thing is.
A rim/ kicker light that will help to isolate the subject from the background.
And the ring flash fills the face with the product and gives us a subtle light on the background.
Or even if you are working with macro photography this type of light is essential to not let your shadow interfere with the light of the subject.
I would say that for the price I am seeing in stores like Adorama, buying this is a no-brainer if you like this type of life. The Godox R200 is not cheap, but also it is nothing that will drain your saving in a second.
The advantages that a ring flash has are unique to it, and this is enough for me to say that the price is placed right.
Keep in mind that you will need a Godox AD200 or AD200 Pro to be able to use this ring flash, but the AD 200 Pro is one of the most valuable tools inside my backpack when it comes to lighting, so I would say that if you do not have one you are doing something wrong.
Sometimes I can see products that other people don get a chance to see, and sometimes these products are super useful, which is the case of the R200.
For my photography, this is something that helps me a lot with a lot of things, but most importantly, this makes my life easier in some situations.
And believe there is nothing more valuable to me at that time, if something is getting in the way of doing things no matter how hipped it is, it is not for me. I like simpler things, you plug everything in and start working, done.
That was the feeling while I was using the Godox R200, super simple to use, and super effective for a specific task.
If you are looking for new options for your lighting arsenal, I would recommend you give this ring flash a change if you already have a Godox AD200 or AD200 Pro, you will be surprised.
How about you, which Godox light do you have? Any favorites?
Disclaimer. This product was sent to me by Godox for this review. All options here are mine, and they did not get to read or alter this article in any form before it was published,