Best camera flash for portrait photography: 6 models tested and rated

Best camera flash for portrait photography: Lencarta Safari Li-on Ringflash kit

If you want soft, even lighting, you’re going to want a flashgun. But what is the best camera flash for portrait photography? We took 6 of the best models available


Slot any flashgun into your hotshoe and you immediately run into problems with portraiture. They give a hard, unflattering quality of light, and even if you mount a diffusion dome, you’re likely to get dark shadows under the nose and chin or to one side of the sitter’s head.

Ring flash systems use a round tube that encircles the lens, providing soft, near shadowless illumination of your subject. This is not only useful for macro photography but for portraiture too, especially in the field of fashion photography.

A bonus is that you can get distinctive circular catchlights in the sitter’s eyes – and a halo-like hazy shadow around the subject.

Options include powerful, complete ring flash systems, converters for studio flash heads, standalone hotshoe-mounting solutions, and adapters for use with standard flashguns. We’ve tested examples of all four types, each of which has its own pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look at what’s on offer.

Ray Flash Adapter

Best camera flash for portrait photography: Ray Flash Adapter

Price: £150, $200
Buy it:

The Ray Flash mounts onto a flashgun, diverts its output and fires it through a ring around the lens.

It does all this without losing an inordinate amount of flash power, so it manages a healthy shooting range, and works with TTL and manual flash settings.

The Ray Flash doesn’t feel that robust, but its light weight is good news considering that it’s fully supported by the camera’s hotshoe.

One drawback is that there are four different versions for Nikon equipment, each of which works with a selection of bodies and flashguns.

It can be a pain when you change your camera kit.

Pros… Quick and easy to fit, good shooting reach
Cons… Each version lacks wide-ranging compatibility
WE say… A good budget choice if you stick to a particular body

Score: 3/5

PAGE 1: Ray Flash Adapter
PAGE 2: Rotolight RL48-B Creative Colour Kit
PAGE 3: Orbis Ringflash
PAGE 4: Nissin MF18 Macro Flash
PAGE 5: Bowens Ringlite Converter
PAGE 6: Lencarta Safari Li-on Ringflash Kit
PAGE 7: 5 things to look for in a flashgun for portrait photography


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