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  1. #1
    Super Moderator David Tong's Avatar
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    For newcomers: Get A Flash First...



    Many folks yearn for fast 2.8 lenses, and they're legitimate, worthwhile investment for those who can afford it and need it for their assignments.

    Most of us can't really afford such lenses without going through some serious budgeting. Even when we do buy such a nice piece of equipment, most users fail to realize that fast lens does have tradeoffs as well, expecially when it comes to depth-of-field and max shutter speed issue.

    For most casual users, investing on a flash gun is a much better decision, in my opinion. A flash gun allows your basic kit lens to function well in low-light and fast-moving subjects regardless of lighting conditions.

    If you're shooting a group of folks in low-light, using a wide aperture (f/4 or larger) usually won't let you get a sharp image beyond the person your camera focused on. You'll most probably need f/6.3 to f/11 in most group shots - something even your fast lens won't be able to cope with in terms of shutter speed. Even high ISO won't help much, not to mention the loss of detail due to noise.

    A flash will allow you to keep a high shutter speed (usually above 1/100) while keeping the aperture opening small (f/5.6 or smaller).

    ETTL systems calculates exposure pretty accurately and if you have the experience, you can always manually mix and match your flash-cam settings.

    Here are some examples of a flash's advantage.

    Camera: Canon EOS10D
    Flash: Sunpak PowerZoom 4000AF (not ETTL compatible - manual only).
    Trigger: Optical hotshoe trigger.
    Settings: 1/200 @ F/10 ISO 200. Flash set at 1/16 power @ 28mm


    Note that all the photos below are shot with the shutter/aperture/ISO settings above except for the ambient shot (set # 3)

    Set 1: Off cam




    Set 2: No flash


  2. #2
    Super Moderator David Tong's Avatar
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    Re: For newcomers: Get A Flash First...

    Set 3: Ambient Only 1/6 second, f/5.6 ISO 200





    Excessive blur and much less DOF.

    Set 4: Same as Set 1 with a reflector opposite the flash.




    As you can clearly see, the ability to use a small aperture gave me great DOF. By setting my cam's shutter speed to its maximum sync speed (1/200), I was able to take a much sharper shot with low noise as well.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator David Tong's Avatar
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    Re: For newcomers: Get A Flash First...

    Here's another set taken this evening with an almost completely dark room...

    1/200 f/9 ISO 100


    Or have a little fun... (Same settings - changed background color by adding a red fill background in post-processing).


    Which was set up with this (2 white fill, another gold fill)


    Bye bye frontal lighting...

  4. #4
    Super Moderator David Tong's Avatar
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    Re: For newcomers: Get A Flash First...

    Sunpak PZ4000 AF @ 1/16 power as optical slave fired through a scrim (hand held). + EOS10D + 50mm 1.8.

    Most are shot with 1/125 @ f/5.6 or 6.3, ISO 100






    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    All three photos above were taken by...



    Nicole, my 9yo neice... She already knows what a scrim, bounce, and hotspot mean

    Goes to show that photography is about lighting, first and foremost.

  5. #5
    DPP Member paulnerie's Avatar
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    Re: For newcomers: Get A Flash First...

    Very good and sound advice! Although I must admit that a flash gun was least in my list (I had the pop up flash, right?), it became clear soon enough that it's as essential as your camera, even in daylight (fill-in flash).

    If I may add, look for these features when getting a flash:

    1. bounce head
    2. swivel head
    3. high speed sync for fill-in flash (don't know if this can be done with manual settings though, but still if that's the case it might be difficult to the inexperienced. better to have auto .
    Those three features are not available AFAIK to any existing built-in DSLR flash. Not to mention that a flash gun is more powerful.

    And why is it not good to use the built in flash as daylight fill? Because it locks the shutter speed, which usually is too slow (except I think for the Nikon D40) for daylight shots. This may result in overexposed shots.

    I hope this helps.

  6. #6
    DPP Member charlie_co's Avatar
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    Re: For newcomers: Get A Flash First...

    Helpful tip for newbies like me Sir David. I for one am guilty of this f/2.8 syndrome. I still have a long way to go in learning this hobby. As said.... It's the QUALITY of LIGHT, not the QUANTITY---- Sir Jo Avila
    Canon FF w/ 2.8Ls... but I wanted somemore... Now I'm also a Prime-ate. Love em 1.2Ls

    Always on the LEVEL my Brother

  7. #7
    Super Moderator David Tong's Avatar
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    Re: For newcomers: Get A Flash First...

    Quote Originally Posted by paulnerie View Post
    [*]high speed sync for fill-in flash (don't know if this can be done with manual settings though, but still if that's the case it might be difficult to the inexperienced. better to have auto .[/LIST]Those three features are not available AFAIK to any existing built-in DSLR flash. Not to mention that a flash gun is more powerful.

    And why is it not good to use the built in flash as daylight fill? Because it locks the shutter speed, which usually is too slow (except I think for the Nikon D40) for daylight shots. This may result in overexposed shots.

    I hope this helps.
    Don't quite agree to this. The pop-up's main shortcoming is the distance it can cover. Most pop-up flash can be controlled and it does NOT lock the shutter speed unless you're in P and auto/scene modes, which locks at 1/60.

    The pop-up flash's auto-exposure adjusts and behaves differently if it's in Av mode as well. As long as you stay in the x-sync speed (usually 1/180 to 1/250) the pop will still fire, especially if you're in Manual mode.

    Refer to samples in my other thread about pop-up flash. It certainly is very useful for outdoor fill.

  8. #8
    DPP Member Marc deLeon's Avatar
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    Re: For newcomers: Get A Flash First...

    very timely post sir David.

    i'm in the middle of deciding where to put(invest) my money in.

    flash or 50mm f/1.8 or photo summit.

    hahaha.
    "don't give away the end, the one thing that stays mine" - 23 by Jimmy Eat World

    | Canon 400d | EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 | EF 80-200mm f/4.5-5.6 | EF 50mm f/1.8 | EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

    DeviantArt | Multiply

  9. #9
    DPP Member benedict_torres's Avatar
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    Re: For newcomers: Get A Flash First...

    it kinda depend on what you really do shoot most. I have a off-camera flash that I rarely get to use because most of the time, i am shooting when the sun is still up. i usually do travel to different places and carry my camera but once I come home, I most of the time wished that I didn't brought my flash since it adds to the overall weight.

    It really depends. What do you usually shoot. If you are more of the landscape person shooting during the days, the flash might be the last on the list. For me, I usually leave my camera behind when the sun is down and just carry a p&s because I prefer drinking over shooting during night times. For me, photography and drinking don't mix
    "If your pictures aren't good enough, buy a super telephoto"

  10. #10
    DPP Member Mark Olazo's Avatar
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    Re: For newcomers: Get A Flash First...



    Thanks for sharing this to us Sir David. I'm also deciding between the nifty fifty and a SB 800/600.

    This is a BIG help.

    Cheers!
    "Photography, as we all know, is not real at all. it is an illusion of reality with which we CREATE our own private world.
    - Arnold Newman


    "If lights and sounds could kill; I would eagerly die happy."
    - Digital Karma

 

 

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