Ring lights are useful for macro photography because they eliminate the tell-tale shadows usually created when using a conventional speedlight on camera. Some are continuous LED light sources while others have Xenon flash tubes. The new Amaran Halo from Aputure is sort of both and neither.
Made up of 60 LEDs, the Amaran Halo attaches to the front of your lens using Cokin P-type filter thread adapters. It can also be mounted on the hotshoe along with the control module holding the four AA batteries that power it. As well as running continuously, the Halo has a “Flash” mode where the LEDs light up at twice their usual intensity. This is synchronised with your camera shutter via your hotshoe. In both flash and continuous modes you have the option of turning on the left or right half of diodes, or all at once.
Using a dial on the control unit, the brightness can be adjusted down to a quarter of full power. The levels are marked “FULL”, “HALF” and “QTR”, which suggests the product is destined for English-speaking users in the export market. (Wouldn’t “1/1”, “1/2” and “1/4” be more universally understood?)
A useful bonus feature is that the Halo can be used as an autofocus-assist lamp, lighting up on a half-press of your camera’s shutter button.Â For a video demonstration of all the Amaran Halo’s capabilities, visit the Aputure web site.
Where to buy
The Aputure Amaran Halo LED ring light is available now. You can order it online for around US$40-45. In the UK, you can buy the Halo from UKphotodistro for around Â£50.