Although "Ring Master" sounds a bit circus-like, many of Paul C. Buff's products have creatively entertaining names: Think "Alien Bees" and "Moon Unit."
Moon Unit, BTW, is also the late Frank Zappa's daughter's given name. Paul C. Buff? A Frank Zappa fan? Possibly. If so, maybe Buff will come out with a Zappa Crappa strobe attachment? Use your imagination to decide how a product named Zappa Crappa would modify the light. I'm guessing the Zappa Crappa modifier would attach with a Dweezil.
Sorry for the detour. I sometimes become a bit ADD impaired.
Back on topic...
I haven't used the Ring Master yet, other than to assemble it and fire off a few pops to insure it works, but I do have some initial reactions. You knew I would, right?
While it's size is about what I expected, the unit is lighter than I thought it would be. That's a good thing for obvious reasons.
The removable attachment bracket is a clever design, enabling photographers to either mount a camera to the ring light, mount it--with or without a camera attached--to a tripod, mount the ring light to a stand or boom, or to hand-hold it with or without a camera on-board.
Build quality, however, is something I'm concerned about. Surprising, since the Ring Master is part of Buff's "Zeus" line, named for Greek mythology's King of all Gods and, by default and according to ancient Greek lore, the strongest and most invincible god chillin' on Mt. Olympus.
Perhaps it's the Ring Master's light weight that causes me to be concerned about its build quality? Some of this product is made of plastic. The chassis and reflector, OTOH, are made of some sort of formed (and painted black) sheet metal. I think it's light-weight aluminum: Al-loo-min-ee-um for any Brits reading the blog. But I'm not 100% sure on that one. (Dammit, Jim! I'm a photographer not a metallurgist!)
To be fair to Buff, build quality tends to be a wait-and-see kind of thing. Something that plays out in time. So, I'll reserve final judgment on this aspect of the product until it's been a contributing member of my overall lighting kit for some time. My gut feeling, however, is that I should handle this tool rather gently, carefully, and with semi-kid gloves.
I should note that my new Ring Master will be well-protected when it's not in use. I acquired a Pelican case the other day, specifically to store my Zeus lighting rig, including the ring light. Everything fits into the case neatly, albeit it's a somewhat tight fit requiring some degree of puzzle-assembling skills.
While the Ring Master's front diffuser offers some protection for the two, half-circle, flash tubes, as well as its eight, miniature, modeling lights, I'm thinking a separate, hard(er) plastic cover would do a better job-- one that snaps onto the outer lip of the reflector.
I'm also a bit concerned with the way the diffuser locks into place. More so since the diffuser, besides doing its diffusing thing, is the only part protecting the tubes and mini-modeling-lights. I'm using the phrase "locks into place" rather lightly because, in my view of things that lock into place, the diffuser doesn't truly and securely lock. The reflector, on the other hand, does lock into place and requires turning a locking mechanism to lock and/or unlock it.
In spite of my wait-and-see reservations regarding the Ring Master's build quality and flash-tube protection, I'm quite excited to put this instrument into play. I recently wrote about my thoughts and expectations for this new-to-me lighting tool. If you missed that, you can read it HERE.
The pretty girl at the top is Selena from some time ago. I mostly like this one because of the impish expression on her face.