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Archive 2013 · First flash and one to learn with - 3rd party?
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · First flash and one to learn with - 3rd party?


I have really been fascinated and intimidated by the world of flash photography as of late. I recently switched from Sony to Nikon (d600), and while having an external flash while with a Sony i never really used it to its full potential.

I am on a strict budget and there's no way id be able to afford multiple nikon flashes, and even one used one is a stretch at the moment. I was looking at the Yangnuo flashes as an attractive alternative, yet i'm still a bit confused as to which one i should settle for. It seems like its between YN-565EX (most expensive for sure) YN-468 II (auto capabilities yet only $100 brand new) and YN-560 II (fully manual, can i use this as a second flash).

What i plan to do eventually is maybe assist a professional in event photography etc. My question really is, id like at least one flash i can take off camera for dramatic effects yet would be practical enough to use while on camera. Should i just forget it and wait for a used sb 700/800?

I do feel that YN-468 II might be the best option for me right now, but would appreciate feedback from others as to a good starting point to get into the strobist world.

Jan 14, 2013 at 04:35 PM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · First flash and one to learn with - 3rd party?

I have an SB600 for my D700 and while I don't use it much it sure seems to work well for what I need it for

Jan 14, 2013 at 04:52 PM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · First flash and one to learn with - 3rd party?

Theres a lot that can be done with one flash if you know how to use it. On camera flash in the hot shoe hits a face at an unnaturally low angle. Simply raising it straight up on a bracket makes it more naturally flattering by duplicating the downward modeling of natural light. Combine the frontal modeling of the raised single flash with the backlight the sun, expose for the sun and add flash to balance on the shaded side and you have a simple but effective outdoor portrait lighting for full face views.

For indoor shots the light on the bracket provides the same flattering modeling. Add a diffuser that allows the light to be split between forward and off a low ceiling and you get both natural downward modeling and fill. When you don't have a ceiling you don't get the fill bouncing back into the shadows, but the bracket keeps the flash modeling downward and flatter.

When you understand how to flatter a subject with a single flash you'll better understand how to flatter them with two or more:

1) Get the "key" off-camera flash, past the brow and nose into "both" eyes

2) Position the "key" light so the angle is naturally downward and is casting a flattering nose shadow down and over the nose, not out to the side or into the far eye.

If you can't do both of those things with a key light in front the more flattering results can usually be obtained by using the single flash strategy of the bracket + bounce on the face and wheeling the off camera flash behind as backlight, creating a look similar to the outdoor single flash shot with sun at the back of the subject.

So I'd recommend you purchase:

1) Camera flip bracket
2) SB-17 or SB-29 cord
3) make a DIY diffuser

Learn to use them and earn enough as second shooter to buy:

4) SB-800 or SB-900 flash
5) 8' stand and umbrella bracket to mount flash
6) Make a second DIY diffuser
7) 36" white umbrella with removable black cover.

Move the SB-800 to the bracket as Master in the CLS system, moving the SB-600 you already have to the stand.

Most beginners buy the largest umbrella they can afford and wind up with flat lighting on faces.

But you need to realize to make light flattering on a face it needs to hit at about a 45 degree downward angle to model and also get past the brow. If you have 8' ceilings in a room you can't get a big umbrella high enough to create that flattering angle on a standing subject. Even with a 36" umbrella the center of the source will be 6-1/2 feet off the ground if it is hitting an 8' ceiling. Since most of the light will be bouncing off the ceiling at that point anyway it's more practical with speedlights to skip the umbrella entirely, zoom the off camera flashhead and then and bounce it off the ceiling so it comes down at the ideal 45 degree angle to the face.

It's not the lighting gear than produces flattering results it's knowing how to aim the light, both with one flash (if that's all you have) or with two or more.

Jan 14, 2013 at 07:37 PM

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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · First flash and one to learn with - 3rd party?

Thank you very much for the reply, very good advice and insight. I've been watching online tutorials and such on effective use of flash and it echoes what you're saying. I guess my issue is trying to achieve the same but with a lesser flash than sb 800 or 900, i think by accident you may have replied to Kell who already has an sb600. I'm currently flash-less and therefore was inquiring about getting an offbrand YN instead of a nikon as my first flash.

Jan 14, 2013 at 07:56 PM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · First flash and one to learn with - 3rd party?

You can (and I think should) also consider an older model flash.

Jan 17, 2013 at 05:05 PM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · First flash and one to learn with - 3rd party?

I prefer to shoot Manual flash so having ETTL is not a issue with me. The YN560II is good but if you are in a very dark room it does not have a flash assist IR so focus can be an issue. Canon models have the focus assist beam. Don't know about how Nikon handles this.
Also when used as a slave flash it is fired from the light not a IR beam. Limits the use when everyone in the room has a cell phone with flash. Again Canon brand has IR to fire the flash as a slave.

You would need a transmitter and receiver to fire off camera and not worry about other people using flash in the room. More to carry and set when trying to use as a slave.

My main issue is the lack of low light assistance. That is a place you never want to be in. Too dark to focus and lack of time to move to manual focus and get the shot, assuming you could see that much in the dark anyway. This is why I keep a Canon brand in my bag all the time.

The color temperature does appear a little different than the Canon but I have not tested it side by side. Had to send both of my Canon flash units in for repair so that could have been the color differnce when the flash tube is 99% gone.

Jan 17, 2013 at 09:43 PM

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