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The idea was to take it apart and make it into an SLR ringlight, but having undone the eight screws inside the battery compartment I soon realised that it would be too much effort to chop bits out and make a useable item, when in fact I had more or less what i needed complete.
Outdoor Essentials Camping LED Light: Features
It's a 14cm diameter case, that houses 12 bright LED lights in a circle. The centre diameter is 36mm and there are two spring clasp (one at each side) that let it grip to an umbrella on a picnic/patio bench to illuminate the table or tent pole for interior lighting.
|It's powered by four AA batteries. As it's from Poundland it's just £1 but you will need to buy four batteries...you can get them at the same time a pack of eight or more is just £1.|
Outdoor Essentials Camping LED Light: Handling
The centre hole is too small for SLR lenses but you can position the lens in the centre and if the focal length is long enough you won't get vignetting. I used a 100mm macro on the Pentax SLR and it didn't cause any problems. It will work well with compacts that have a much smaller lens diameter. It was fine on the Olympus EP2 and its 14-42mm lens vignetting disappeared at focal lengths of 20mm and beyond.
Outdoor Essentials Camping LED Light: Performance
The lights are bright but not dramatically. You need to use a support as the resulting shutter speed is still to slow at lower ISO settings. I manage a couple of stops extra light taking pictures at close range when the unit is switched. The main difference is illumination. The ring light gives a more balanced light with less shadows.
|A relatively flat subject shot with auto white balance in tungsten light||The ringlight has given it depth and a cleaner tonal range|
|Notice the deep shadow from the overhead room light||Here the pen nib is brighter with more catchlights and the shadow is softened|
|Close up of a minature model shadows across the face||Here the shadows are gone and it's neutral but maybe a little lifeless because of the flash|
Once I'd taken a few shots to test the lighting I started to experiment. Placing objects in the centre gives an upright surround light like a floor lights at a disco. I need a Ken or Barbie to go the next step with that photographic experiment.
I also photographed the unit from a distance and throw the lens right out of focus to give an interesting pattern effect (right). You could only do this once, but it's another abstract dimension to your portfolio.
Outdoor Essentials Camping LED Light: Verdict
This wasn't intended to be a scientific or technical review and I'm sure no one will read this review before deciding whether to buy an LED camplight. I did it just to highlight that you don't always have to spend a lot to get extra creative fun out of photography and Poundland is a place to visit from time to time. For just £1 it's certainly worth a play and then you can use it to light up the patio table when you've done.