A new kind of ring flash: four heads are better than one?

Dr. Frankenstein has created a new abomination in the factories of Shenzhen, China. This 21st century creature from CononMark is called the “iQ” and is a cross between a flash bracket, four speedlights and an LED ring light. The iQ is one of a series of new lighting products from CononMark to have been presented at the Shanghai Photo & Imaging trade show this month.

CononMark iQ ring light

It has four high intensity 10-Watt LEDs that run continuously, for video lighting or for use as modelling lamps. The big guns, however, are found in four speedlight-style flash heads (GN 45). Each head can tilt and swivel independently of one another, complete with wide-angle diffuser panels and bounce cards.

The whole set-up is powered from an external battery pack but the control panel is on the ring itself. You can set everything up using an LCD screen on the back of the device.

According to initial specifications, a photographer will be able to dim the lights down to 1/128 of full power with 1/3-stop precision.  A built-in 2.4GHz radio trigger will sync the unit up from a claimed 100-metre range. But the ring-shaped design and camera bracket suggest you’re more likely to be using it much closer to your DSLR, poking your lens through the 110mm hole in the middle.

CononMark iQ ring light

Pricing and distribution haven’t yet been announced but you can find further details on the CononMark web site. Is this a clever design or a silly one? Let us know in the comments.

  • http://tierrepeterson.com/blog TrP

    Whether it is silly or solid, depends on its price. It costs more than a ring flash, then it’ll be silly. I don’t know if it will have the same effects as a ring flash. If someone could create a light modifier for it, it could turn out to be useful.

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com bob cooley

    Actually, I could see one very good shooting application for this unit: Using hallways (or white cards as key lights to the sides of the subject, Then bouncing off of the floor and ceiling at different angles to produce highlights.

    Its likely going to be way too expensive, but if its not, it will certainly have more flexibility than the flat light of a ringlight…

  • Jon

    If it’s priced similarly to the Yongnuo flashes I would buy several in a heartbeat! I would fabricate a bracket deal to use up the center hole to hold a 6V SLA battery and an umbrella bracket and use them inside Westcott Apollo softboxes for soft light, or to light up a large room. This would be fantastic! I would like it more if they made it a little bit smaller instead of as a ringlight, since it isn’t actually a ringlight in the portrait sense, but it probably works great in the macro sense.

  • http://www.lencarta.com Garry Edwards

    Well, this new light is ‘interesting’ but whether it’s a useless gimmick or whether it has any real use is an interesting question…

    I saw it and had a good play with it when I visited the Cononmk factory recently and my first impression was that it was so different that it was worth adding it to the Lencarta product range, after carrying out some fairly major changes to the tooling to allow it to be used with modifiers – it isn’t much use as it is.

    But the more I tested it, the harder I found it to find any actual benefits, other than the fact that the 3rd party flashguns built into it produce more light than a single flashgun. True, it has short flash durations, just like every other hotshoe flash but that doesn’t help at all when using it outdoors and you only get the short flash durations if you turn the power right down, so a dedicated portable flash that can be fitted with any light shaper will do a much better job every time.

    And then there’s the bulk. It makes the camera very heavy at over 2kg including the battery and awkward to use. And, with it fitted to a camera, I found that it was impossible to put the camera down without it tipping over.

    It would be good for producing fill light at a wedding, but it’s just too bulky and heavy. It has these built in modelling lights, which are pretty good, but they aren’t really bright enough to be used on their own without flash, and anyway, who wants to use a really bulky continuous light on camera? Even a LED video light in the hotshoe would do a better job and would be far less bulky.

    And the light it produces isn’t anything like a ringflash, so it can’t be used for that either.

    It may sell to people who like to buy things that look different, but I bet that if they do find an importer to buy it, the few customers who end up with it will just leave it on the shelf once they’ve got over the novelty.

  • http://www.lightingrumours.com/ David A. Selby

    Note to readers: we have a sample of this on its way to us to review.

  • Ranger 9

    The concept (separate flash units mounted around the lens) seems similar to the Nikon RC-1 macro flash, only even bigger and even more unwieldy. It’s clever in the sense of being a new product that makes use of existing components (the flash heads and electronics) but it does look as if it would be unbelievably awkward to use. For example, once you’ve attached a fairly large DSLR with a trigger transmitter in its hot shoe, isn’t that going to block access to the LCD control panel?

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