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Review: F&V R300 Ringlight

I'm revisiting ring lights because I found one that addressed the two things that wanted to be different when I reviewed the Rosco Ring Light last year. The F&V R300 is a different design, with LEDs facing the subject instead of into a white plastic. It also has a battery holder on the right of the light, and a built-in power/dimmer on the left. The exact two things I said I wanted in a ringlight. But how does it light?

There are several more ringlight solutions available now than when I reviewed the Rosco LitePad Loop Ringlight for Streaming Media Producer. The Rosco LitePad is specifically designed for a soft fill, which it provides by facing the LEDs sideways into a milky white plastic substrate that emits this light forward to the subject without any visible pinpoint LED lights. It does this very well, and is designed to help you avoid detail shots where you might see the specular reflections of the LEDs.

The F&V R300, by contrast, aims 300 LEDs directly at your subject. It's about the same size and weight as the Rosco light. It's easy to hold in your hand (Figure 1, below) with its rounded back and soft edges. But the real coup de grâce is their magnetic filter system. I've enjoyed F&V's magnetic filters on my little Z96 light for years. And with the bigger R300, it makes even better sense.

Figure 1. The F&V R300 ringlight. Click the image to see it at full size.

Applying the Filters

Each filter has four small, but strong magnets. The light has magnets too. All you need to do is get the filter near the right place and "click," and the filter will pop into place for you and stay there (Figure 2, below). No fiddling with gels. No trying to slide a filter into a holder. No clipping on or falling off. Moreover, you can stack the magnetic gels--first the diffuser, then the tungsten when you change locations. And then pull just the tungsten off. Or reverse the order, it's as simple as that.

Figure 2. Filters snap onto the 4 small but strong magnets at the corner of the light. Click the image to see it at full size.

F&V also has a much more dense filter they sell separately called "milk" that completely obscures the individuals LEDs and blends the light into a seamless ring of light (Figure 3, below). It also dramatically diminishes the forward throw of the light, but that's to be expected. If you are doing close up work, or shooting reflective surfaces, then the milk filter may be of interest to you.

Figure 3. The "milk" filter obscures the LEDs and can be stacked atop other filters using the magnets. Click the image to see it at full size.