Walter Shillington writes about products he knows firsthand. His articles focus on healthcare, electronics, watches, and household items.
I’m old and wrinkled, and my hair has turned distressingly gray. Because of this, I seldom take selfies. I do, however, snap plenty of photographs intended to highlight the items reviewed in my articles.
While modern smartphones are equipped with remarkably good cameras, the resulting photographs often do not meet the professional standards demanded by my publishers unless the objects being photographed are correctly lit. A quality lighting system is a must-have for anyone who photographs products.
Last year, I replaced my unreliable set of CFL lights—they kept burning out at the most awkward moments—with a dual-ring light manufactured by iMartine. This system performed far better than the CFL lights but required two power inputs and proved cumbersome to set up.
I decided to invest in a simpler and less expensive ring light that could be used in situations where the dual light system was unnecessary. After checking out the offerings on Amazon.com, I ordered BlitzWolf’s BW-SL3.
The BlitzWolf BW-SL3 consists of a 10.2-inch ring light, a low profile tripod, a swivel adaptor, a flexible phone holder, and a remote control designed to operate the shutter of the attached smartphone’s camera.
The tripod is intended for tabletop use. It has a low profile and is extremely stable. The adaptor is used to connect the ring light to its stand and allow it to be positioned at the required angle.
120 LEDs are crammed into this 10.2-inch ring light. It is controlled by a switch incorporated into a 78-inch lead, which runs from the light and terminates with a standard USB connector. To power this device, most people insert the USB connector into a power plug adaptor (commonly called a "block") and plug it into an AC outlet. This light can also be powered by the USB output of a power bank or a computer.
A control switch turns on the unit, adjusts the light output to one of eleven different levels, and allows for a choice between three color temperatures.
A flexible metal gooseneck terminating with a phone clamp can be connected to the system. This allows photographs to be taken from within and behind the space encircled by the light ring. The remote control operates the shutter of any Android or iOS smartphone used with this device.
- Brand: BlitzWolf
- Product name: Ring light
- Model: BW-SL3
- Weight: 585 grams (20.6 ounces)
- LED ring size: 26 centimeters (10.2 inches)
- LED ring power: 10 watts using 120 LEDs
- Brightness: 11 adjustable levels
- Color temperature: Yellowish (2300K), warm white (approx. 4500K), and cool white (6000K)
- Cellphone clamp: Spring-loaded, rotatable
- Shutter remote: Bluetooth remote with battery (works with iOS and Android phones)
The tripod opens wide, ensuring stability. The metal gooseneck is quite sturdy and easily capable of holding its set position when a phone is clamped in place. Care should be taken while adjusting the phone’s position because the flexible extension is directly connected to the ring light.
While lights should always be handled carefully, the LED ring accompanying this system requires less caution than would be necessary when working with Spiral CFL light bulbs.
This lighting system was designed for recording vlogs, taking selfies, and to assist when applying makeup. I, however, use it primarily to photograph items I plan to either review or sell on eBay. It is easy to set up, and the light ring can be quickly repositioned when necessary. While this light can be disassembled for storage, it is small enough that you probably won’t bother.
The one obstruction to complete portability is the ring light’s requirement for electricity. I alleviated this difficulty by connecting a Anker PowerCore 20100mAh power bank. This power source kept the light glowing at full strength for over six hours. Any power bank equipped with a USB output and the capacity to provide 2 amps of power can be used for this purpose.
Intensity may be set to any of eleven different levels. I found that 80% worked best for me. If the subject is closer or more distant, adjustments can be made.
Glare is less of a problem than encountered using my CFL floodlights. A reflection of the ring, however, can sometimes be detected on the surface of a subject’s glasses.
The LED ring is capable of emitting light at three different temperatures. I found that setting the light to midrange (about 4500 Kelvins) helped to produce a photograph with the most accurate skin tone. Different settings might be required in certain situations.
This lighting system was designed to enhance the production of selfies and videos, but it also works very well for product photographuy. It is well built, compact, easy to assemble, and extremely versatile. The BlitzWolf BW-SL3 Ring Light is recommended.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Walter Shillington