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Bolt Vm-160 Led Macro Ring Light Review

Build Quality – One concern was people here stated the device felt cheap and that it could break at any moment, I own/ed a lot of tech, and while this may be light as a feather this is not easily breakable. The deal with that is that the diffusers are a little tricky to properly attach, and that after some vigorous shooting the ring part of the unit moves around quite a bit so they can come loose. I’m primarily going to be using it for macro video as a led ring light, I bought a more expensive alternative for flash / photo work though.

Bolt VM-160 Macro Ring Light REVIEW

I’ve been able to gather many types of accessories for my camera, but lighting has been one thing that’s been difficult for me to add into my kit. Four clip-on diffusers are included — clear, frosted, amber, and blue.

It will attach to your camera using an accessory shoe and requires 4 AA batteries. Inside the box, you will find light, the diffuser panels, and the power adapter. As it turns out, the ring light was just the thing I needed to make awesome portraits and close-up product shots. For my product shots, I typically use a lit white box, but sometimes I need just a bit more light up front.

I also like to take products around my office and on location to shoot some nice lifestyle shots. I don’t think you’ll find a better bargain when it comes to effect lighting for a DSLR.

Handheld Macro Photography with the Bolt VM-160 Ring Light

The shopping list will probably start with a dedicated macro lens capable of life size (1:1) reproduction, because while cheaper zoom lenses and wide-angle primes might show a “macro” region on their focus scale, these lenses typically render their subject no larger than 25% of their real world size. And while photographers of all sorts can benefit from owning a durable tripod, those who are macro obsessed might consider upgrading their tripod’s head to a geared unit that will permit very fine adjustments in three axes, as well as a macro focusing rail that moves the entire camera toward/away from the subject without changing the focal point (and therefore, the magnification power) of the lens. If you had spent a few hundred dollars on your tripod rig, it would be no problem at all to dial in your framing with total precision and simply increase your exposure time with no fear of tiny perturbations in your setup ruining the image. The obvious benefit of using one of these lights is that you drastically reduce the shutter time necessary for a good exposure, thus permitting a much sharper image.

But in addition to sharper focus, having such direct light allows for the colors of your subject to pop with a vibrancy that longer exposures can’t guarantee. Already, the Bolt unit shows a lot of promise as a device that lets you be creative in the field, allowing you to approach macro photography with spontaneity and—perhaps—let you turn your brain off and better enjoy taking pictures. I was delighted to find that the Bolt VM-160 LED Ring Light allows you to illuminate your subject to the exclusion of background elements, giving the impression that it is emerging from nothing—anti-bokeh? I’m hardly a portrait photographer, and am pathologically introverted to boot, so the past few months with the Bolt were spent agonizing over how I was going to source folks willing to let me test the device on them in the middle of a pandemic after moving to a strange town.

But thanks to an infographic that was widely circulating around Halloween time, which revealed that the original Addam’s Family set was awash in cheery pinks and yellows, I recalled the impact that color has on different types of black and white films. While the Bolt VM-160 LED Ring Light kit is highly versatile—having allowed me to take photographs I would never have imagined before—the execution of the product leaves a little to be desired.

But of course, the plasticky build quality of this light makes this point about battery life sometimes moot, as the door securing the AAs in place doesn’t always seal tight enough to keep the electrical contacts stable. Despite these gripes, with its gentle pricing and compatibility with lenses of various sizes, the Bolt VM-160 LED Ring Light is an excellent tool for anyone casually interested in macro photography and hoping to make better pictures without too much investment.

I am not always the most gentle with my gear, but I feel confident enough to keep it packed up in my kit along with the adapters for my macro and portrait lenses, as it is the quickest and simplest way for me to spontaneously capture tiny things.

Bolt VM-110 LED Macro Ring Light Review

It’s been bugging me that I only have a handful of decent insect photos, despite owning a macro lens primarily for that purpose. When they weren’t flying or running away from me, they were biting me, and when I tried the pop-them-in-the-fridge-to-cool-them-down trick – well, let’s just say Mr. Tarantula is still napping.

I felt awful about that and vowed never to ice down a critter again unless it was a penguin with heat stroke. The flash mode is more a feature to conserve battery life and not constantly blind your subjects.

When I first tried the VM-110 it immediately became obvious that this is a poor choice for shooting bugs or any moving subjects. Your shutter speed needs to be ½ sec or longer for this ring light to take advantage of the specified GN.

In practice I found the VM-110 beat this, but still I had to shoot at ISO 2500 to get proper exposure at one foot distance and 1/125 and f/16. Furthermore, its all-plastic build keeps the weight and cost down but makes it feel a bit like a toy.

These are plastic too, with the potential to cross-thread the rings or have them jam tight and be hard to remove – treat these very gingerly if you want them to last and don’t over-tighten them. Instead of bashing this product for not being good for bugs, I set out to find some fun static subjects to shoot. I heard there’s decent money to be had in product photography so I grabbed my tripod and let the magic happen. I snuck this pic of what I think is the camera modulara prototype sitting on a light table at Mansurov Enterprises.

The only communication with the camera is the ability for the shutter to trip the ½ sec flash mode. But seriously, the ring lit portrait can be a cool trendy look with punchy highlights and dark shadowy rims on the subject and even a background halo (assuming no other light source). Quickly I learned why ring lights suck for portraits – having the flash mounted on the lens really blinds your model. Switching from 50mm to 60mm lens, taking a step back and adding some ambient light helped.

I had to go back in and tweak both temperature and tint (using Lightroom’s WB picker tool) to get something resembling healthy skin. If you choose to use this ring light to illuminate humans, I suggest creating some LR presets for WB and sticking with the clear diffuser. Another portrait trick you might recognize from the fashion mags is the ring-shaped catchlight in the model’s eyes. As a constant light source, the VM-110 might be handy for close-up video work, but I haven’t tested this yet.

With a 24-120mm on a full frame sensor I had vignetting through the entire range, but of course more severe at the wider focal lengths. Good news there, now if I can just get that darned plastic adapter ring off (yeah I mentioned this before, but these really need to be made of metal). On the plus side it’s inexpensive, lightweight, gives even illumination, and as a constant light source, WYSIWYG. Its biggest downsides are how weak it is, the funky white balance issues, and the long “flash” duration.

Bolt VM-160 LED Macro Ring Light?

Join Date: Jun 2012 Location: Magic City Albums Photos: Gallery Posts: 2,765 Original Poster As the above user mentioned, xenon is far brighter so that’s where I’ve been, but effectively just using a light panel mounted to the lens on permanently would certainly be fine for many macro shots.

The non disconnecting ring element might be a deal breaker for my money; having that on my existing flash is so convenient for packing.

Excellent suggestion on the lens filters, although I haven’t done that since film days, 50 magenta to compensate for those old green fluorescent bulbs.

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