Over the last 10 years or so, I’ve used quite a few different types of ring lights for my portrait and product work. Each had its own particular benefits and drawbacks. Nothing was ever quite “perfect,” but most worked well enough in their given role. This is my review of the very affordable GIM 19” 48W Ring Light.
A few weeks back, a company called “Global i Mail” reached out and asked if I’d like to test one of their LED ring lights, the GIM 19” 48W version. Now, I’ve used ring lights off and on as needed, but they’ve never been the first piece of lighting equipment I’ve reached for when getting an assignment. But hey, I’m always open to trying out something new, so I agreed, and they sent me a loaner.
Let me start this review by getting the obvious out of the way: ring lights are very specific tools for a certain type of look. They provide even lighting on a subject that can be very flattering. The shadow they throw around the subject gives portraits a look that can almost instantly be identified as having been shot with this type of light. That’s not to say you couldn’t use it as a rim light, backlight, or fill, but if you’ve got a ring light, chances are you’re going to use it as your main light source. The light has built-in bicolor LEDs with a color range from 3,200 K to 6,500 K that can be dimmed anywhere from 1% to full power output.
So, after a few weeks of testing, what did I think? Let’s start with the actual mechanics of using it. Two knobs control the color and light output, and they’re pretty easy to use, if a bit basic. The ball-head mount was sturdy enough for most DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, but I probably wouldn’t mount my Speed Graphic or Hasselblad on it. The light stand that came with it was serviceable and stable. The 19” diameter produced a nice, soft light with the tell-tale circular reflections in the subject's eyes, and the variable color output allowed me to tinker with my shots until I was happy with the final product.
The plastic frame felt a little delicate for my tastes. If I’m dragging this up the side of a mountain for a sunset portrait, which I’ve done with other lights of mine, I’m not sure I’d trust it to survive the trip. Another issue I had was that the light strictly operates from wall outlets. The only way I was able to use this outside was by connecting it to my Goal Zero Sherpa 100. This is hardly an ideal solution; a built-in battery mount would make this light much more desirable.
In the end, the GIM 19” LED Ring Light did everything it promised to do — no more, no less. It’s a stable, no-frills, easy-to-operate ring light ideal for still or video shoots and for amateur or semi-pro shooters on a budget. While it may not be well suited for high-impact, on-location shoots out in the wild, it will work just fine for home or studio use.
What I Liked
- Easy to use
- Even lighting without any obvious flickering
- Comes with a decent light stand and variety of camera mounts
- Articulating arm
What I Didn't Like
- Relatively fragile plastic build
- Strictly powered by wall outlet
You can purchase yours here.