The Viltrox JY-670 from JYC is a battery-powered portable ring flash, which I was sent a sample of to review.
Unlike the Orbis or DIYÂ ring flash adapters, the JY-670 natively mounts to your camera and lens without unwieldy brackets. It comprises a control unit that sits on the hotshoe and the ring light itself which fits on to your lens with Cokin P type adapters. The system comes in a rather nice imitation leather case when you buy it.
The ring is only slightly larger in diameter than most lenses, so soft lighting will only really be found when using the flash for close-up work, which it was designed for. Nonetheless, if you know what you’re doing then a ring flash such as this can also be used for on-axis fill, for example with portraits. As a main light, however, the look is quite harsh and unflattering (though this might be what you’re looking for).
The Viltrox JY-670 is manual only, so there’s only one pin on the hotshoe foot and no automatic TTL support. The foot is made of metal and has a locking lever, which reassures you that the unit will stay put in your camera hotshoe.
The control unit is based on the same body as the Viltrox JY-680 speedlight (reviewed here) with a similar layout. Unfortunately, like the JY-680, the settings are a bit difficult to read in bright light. You can use either side of the ring flash or both together, and there is the option for ratios between the right and left light. It can be a bit fiddly to set up, but you don’t need the instruction manual to work it out.
Pressing the “Lamp” button will light up two LEDs for a few seconds which is very useful as a focus assist light. It won’t stay on permanently though, and isn’t a ring-shaped light, so doesn’t really work as a modelling lamp or for video. JYC do have a continuous LED ring light too, called the Viltrox JY-675, which you can use for video.
The top of the control unit, where the cable comes out, can swivel, but even with this I find the coiled cord is a bit stiff. This means that if you use the JY-670 with longer lenses, you might find it hard to rotate the ring light without it being pulled out of orientation by the cable. If this is a problem, you can probably stretch the cord out to give yourself a bit more length.
Another issue with the Cokin P-type mounting system is that you can get vignetting in certain situations, and some lenses without filter threads aren’t supported. However, if either of these apply to you, you can still hold the ring in place by hand or a home-made adapter, avoiding vignetting and allowing fisheye lenses to be used.
Power-wise, the ring flash is quite substantial, even for fairly distant subjects or using very narrow apertures in close-ups. Having a wide range of power levels and fine adjustment is ideal for macro photography. At full power the flash takes a couple of seconds to recycle. You can speed this up by connecting a high voltage battery pack via the external power port.
Overall, the Viltrox JY-670 is a decent little device. It has a few quirks, but no real show-stoppers unless you’re interested in TTL. It can be quite fiddly to use at times, but I find macro work is often quite fiddly anyway. Moreover, for a bit of on-axis fill flash, it’s far less awkward to use than a ring flash adapter or studio-sized unit, making it well worth considering at this price.
Where to buy
You can buy the Viltrox JY-670 on eBay for around US$120 (Â£80). It available in Britain for Â£85 from UKphotodistro. More information is available on the Viltrox brand web site.