Home · Register · Search · View Winners · Software · Hosting · Software · Join Upload & Sell

Moderated by: Fred Miranda
Username   Password

  New fredmiranda.com Mobile Site
  

FM Forums | Canon Forum | Join Upload & Sell

1
       2       3       end
  

Archive 2011 · Off Camera Flash
  
 
saneproduction
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #1 · Off Camera Flash


Hi All,

I have been reading a lot about off camera flash at the strobist and other sites and I am thinking of getting started with flash photography. I tend to shoot available light or continuous light like kinos or tungsten for portrait shots. I am a professional video producer and have access to lots of lighting and grip for work stuff. Lighting for video is pretty tricky w/o taking a lot of time and manpower so the strobist small-fast-light approach appeals to me for my personal still work. Also super excited at having powerful battery powered daylight sources for cheap! HMI we use for video are outrageous!

What route would you suggest I go, TTL or manual? I am waffling between getting a strobist pro single light kit (lumopro 160 + 2 pocket wizards) as a base or going with a 580EX II and adding some wireless TTL units a bit later and seeing how the canon wireless works for me to start (I shoot 60D for my personal camera and 5Dii at work). In the second case I would probably go with the pocketwizard mini tt1 transmitter and flex tt5 receiver. I have some old flashes that I may use later as 2nd or 3rd heads.

I really don't want to buy anything that is junk, buy cheap, buy twice as far as I am concerned. My problem is my budget is a bit tight for this first purchase, so I am looking at $5-700 to start. I could probably scrounge up some stands, gels, modifiers etc, but the strobist kit seems well though out and has some decent stuff.

Anyway, maybe the TTL is a waste of time and I should just go manual... Not sure. I do a lot of lighting for video and everything is manual for us Manual Focus, manual Iris, and shutter and iso are fairly well fixed. Going back to stills is pretty liberating! I figure David Hobby is a big Nikon guy, so I am seeking a second opinion from Canon users.

Anyway, if my budget is too limited I could always wait and get something better later.

Link to strobist kit $629 (Item MPX1044)
http://www.mpex.com/page.htm?PG=STROBIST1XKITS



Feb 10, 2011 at 06:28 AM
RobDickinson
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #2 · Off Camera Flash


I think ETTL works well especialy in changing conditions, if things are static and you ahve some time you get more consistency and control from manual.


Feb 10, 2011 at 07:00 AM
BrianO
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #3 · Off Camera Flash


RobDickinson wrote:
I think ETTL works well especialy in changing conditions, if things are static and you ahve some time you get more consistency and control from manual.


Ditto.

I probably use manual flash more than the average guy because I've been shooting off and on for more than 45 years, and manual flash was all we had for much of that time.

saneproduction wrote:
...I would probably go with the pocketwizard mini tt1 transmitter and flex tt5 receiver.


In that case, I'd suggest getting a 430EX II flash. Other flashes -- in particular the 580EX II -- have been causing problems with the Mini and Flex due to RFI, and some 580 EX II users have reported that the Flex has caused actual damage to their flashes. The 430EX II has been much more trouble free.



Feb 10, 2011 at 10:39 AM
cgardner
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #4 · Off Camera Flash


A simple but effective set-up for PJ style candid flash photography with one or two flashes is to keep one mounted on a bracket 12-18" over the lens.

The bracket is a critical element. The most unflattering things about single flash photography are flat lighting when its close to the camera axis and poorly placed dark unfilled shadows if it is moved slightly to the side. The first thing the bracket does is hide most of the shadows from the POV of the camera. In a full face shot with a bracket the pattern is "butterfly" with the nose shadow falling directly below it (helping to hide the nostrils if in view), and defining the shape of the chin and front of the face with the shadow it does cast which are seen. Direction of the light is what creates modeling. Raising the flash creates a natural looking downward angle for the light that models a human face in a flattering way by getting light under the brow and into the eyes, creating a natural looking highlight / shadow pattern with highlights on the raise parts and shadows on the lower ones; the same pattern we see in natural light that comes from overhead.

When you use more than one flash the one on camera becomes the fill source for the off-axis light. In terms of logisitics it is very simple because there is only one off-camera stand to wrangle. That can be make even easier by using a rolling stand. It is the overlapping of a key light over an even foundation of fill that allows the flash lit foreground to exactly match the range of the sensor to record detail from the darkest shadows on a black suit to the delicate details of a wedding gown at the same time.

In many situations like action shots, or whenever you can't precisely control the alignment of the faces to the key light, the best two-flash strategy is to wheel the off camera flash around to the back out of frame and use it as back-rim light to add an illusion of 3D. Again that's where the bracket is invaluable because it will ensure the frontal lighting on the subject comes from a flattering downward direction without any distracting shadows hanging off the nose or hiding the detail on the front.

The backlight scenario is similar to shooting outdoors with flash where the sun is providing the rim light and the front of the face is in shade which is 3 stops darker because the light comes from the indirect skylight. When you add flash to the face >>> raised on a bracket <<< it creates highlights on the face, over the foundational sky fill. It's really the same as using flash on a bracket indoors, except the ambient light from the sky providing the fill is brighter and makes the shadows appear lighter than indoors where the fill is created by spill bounced off the ceiling.

With that outdoor scenario the shadows remain quite dark and there's not much you can do about it because the flash isn't reaching them and must be exposed for the highlights. For full control over the lighting ratio on a face outdoors you need the same strategy as indoors: a foundation of even fill with overlapping key light. The flash on the bracket reverts to the role of fill (augmenting and lightening the sky filled shadows more) and you add the second flash off axis to create the highlight pattern on the face over the sky+flash fill. Again its exactly the same concept as lighting a face with key and fill indoors, with an assist from the brighter ambient fill from the sky.

That's the simple but effective strategy requiring a bracket, one stand and two flashes. In terms of equipment to implement it? Just about anything can be used. I first used it in the 70's with huge single power Graflex flashes, then for 30+ years with pairs of Vivitar flashes in manual mode with a simple optical slave. When I switched to Canon DSLR I continued to use the Vivitar flashes for a year, but then switched to a pair Canon 580ex flashes. The Canon wireless systems has pros and cons.

The positive attributes are convenience of fingertip control of three groups of flashes in manual mode, and integration with the camera's metering for control of three groups in ETTL mode. M mode provides consistency when shot-to-shot consistency is vital (The Stobist "ethic"), but ETTL is also an option for situations where there is no time to meter and adjust lighting ratios.

The weakness of the Canon system is the need to work around the constraints of the coded optical signaling, and when ETTL is in play the quirks that come from metering flash based on pre-flashes. Because I'd used optical triggers on my Vivitars for many years I was familar with the limitations of optical triggering and found it easy to work around them. First I don't expect it to trigger my slave from 100' away, which is OK because I seldom use it more than 40' away, which is the effective signaling range of a 580ex master pre-flash. Secondly common sense dictates that the sensor on the slave be oriented towards the Master's light and no blocked. I work around that problem by using diffusers I created which sit on top of a vertical flash head making it easy to align the sensor towards the master and the light in any other direction. With the lighting strategies I use I don't have a problem keeping the slave within the footprint of light from the master flash in the bracket. Occasionally I'll use an umbrella on my off camera light but for most applications I find that the small diffusers, combined with the strategy of overlapping the off axis light over a foundation of neutral fill, provides acceptable results.

Would this strategy meet your needs? I have no way of knowing, but its one of simpler one's logistically you might want try first. All you need is a bracket, OC-E3 cord, a 580ex / 580exII Master, and a compatible slave mounted on a stand with an umbrella bracket. Since the off camera light winds up needing as much or more output than the fill in most situations I suggest a second 580ex / 580exII. I prefer the original over the mkII. I you find that doesn't meet your needs you can add radio triggers to extend the range and allow you to bury the slave flash inside modifiers.

See: http://super.nova.org/DPR/Canon/MultiCanon and http://super.nova.org/DPR/DIY01/







Feb 10, 2011 at 04:10 PM
saneproduction
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #5 · Off Camera Flash


cgardner wrote:
A simple but effective set-up for PJ style candid flash photography with one or two flashes is to keep one mounted on a bracket 12-18" over the lens......



Wow! Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a detailed answer! I think that this sounds like the best option for me to start, I can always add radios later like you said. The Canon flashes seem like they will work consistently wit the least amount of hassle. If I get a 580 or 580ii plus bracket and cord as a base, I can use that in more situations than the manaul only strobist kit with radios. I can probably even use an old flash with optical slave for edgelight until I have enough money for a 480 II or 580 (II) slave.

Edit::removed most of quote

Edited on Feb 11, 2011 at 05:34 AM · View previous versions



Feb 10, 2011 at 04:48 PM
cgardner
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #6 · Off Camera Flash


The problem with mixing other optically triggered flash with Canon wireless is that the pre-flashes from the Canon, which still occur in M mode, will fire a normal slave before the shutter opens. There are optical triggers that will ignore preflashes but a better approach for mixing the two is to attach a simple radio Tx to the PC connector on the camera. That will cause the radio connected manual flash to fire in sync with the main flash from the Canon..

BTW - No need to repeat my entire message in your reply... Including just the first line for context suffices to show who you are replying to...



Feb 10, 2011 at 05:44 PM
kakomu
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #7 · Off Camera Flash


For me, ETTL was useful when I was shooting with the flash on camera, but I haven't done that in a while. If I planned on shooting a party or event, I'd probably be more inclined to get an ETTL flash.

However, my personal style has changed since then. I either shoot with available light or with off-camera flashes. I actually sold my 580EX II earlier today, because there wasn't any reason to keep a 580EX II (which costs a hefty chunk of change) when I could just purchase inexpensive shoe-mount flashes or a smaller studio strobe (e.g. Alienbees B400 or B800) and achieve the same effect for less money.

I do typically use optical slaves indoors and cables outdoors, so I can't vouch for any of the radio wireless systems.



Feb 10, 2011 at 06:05 PM
tgamron
Offline

Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #8 · Off Camera Flash


saneproduction wrote:
What route would you suggest I go, TTL or manual?


You should have at least have one TTL flash. There are times when TTL comes in handy. The 580 EX II can be used in TTL or manual mode. I use mine most of the time in manual mode, after some practice you get pretty good at the settings. Using the camera and flash in manual mode is a great teacher. In general the aperture controls the expose, and the shutter speed controls the ambient light.

OCF is it's a lot of fun.



Feb 10, 2011 at 06:29 PM
cgardner
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #9 · Off Camera Flash


Whenever I use ETTL wireless ratios I also set up M for A:B at 1/1.

A problem with ETTL is you don't get feedback on how much of the flash capacity of master or slave was used. At low ISOs it is very easy to exceed the capacity of the flash and not know it. If shooting at FEC = 0 with the flash using 50% of its capacity raising FEC = 1 will increase output to 100% and any FEC > 1 will have no effect at all because there is no more capacity. But the camera doesn't tell you that and in the heat of shooting you can lose track.

Whenever that happens to me -- FEC doesn't seem to be correcting underexposure I change the mode from ETTL to M and fire off a shot a 1/1 full power with both flashes. How that shot turns out tells me if my ETTL shooting from with the same set-up was beyond the capacity of the flash at that ISO/aperture. I then can decide to open aperture (which will affect DOF), raise ISO, move the lights closer, or remove the modifiers which cut light by 2+ stops.

Also if you are not careful about pacing in ETTL you will start firing in "quick flash" mode. Quick flash allows the flash to fire even if not fully recharged on the principle that some flash is better than none but in a series of rapid shots will result in progressive underexposure.




Feb 10, 2011 at 07:00 PM
ScooberJake
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #10 · Off Camera Flash


cgardner wrote:
Whenever I use ETTL wireless ratios I also set up M for A:B at 1/1.


Great tip, thanks Chuck. That one bites me all the time since I shoot outdoors in HSS a lot.



Feb 10, 2011 at 10:37 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



Gregory Edge
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #11 · Off Camera Flash


I had the Pocketwizard ControlTL system. In my opinion the system is just not terrific. It is a good system at best. If you are just getting started buy yourself a couple of 580EX IIs, or if money is tight buy used original 580EX, and a long ETTL cord. You can get the cords from Flash Zebra or Syl Arena has some also but are not yet available at ocfgear.com. This way you can get the flashes off the camera and play around. if you find you need radio transmitters for ETTL than you can step up to a system. Right now I would say the Radio Poppers are a better choice than the PW stuff. You can get yourself the Wescott Apollo softbox as a kit with mounts and a stand for reasonable money from Adorama or BH.

Do yourself a favor and buy Syl Arena's new book, Speedliter's Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites. It is hands down the best book on Canon flash and lighting in general. Worth every penny.



Feb 10, 2011 at 11:42 PM
saneproduction
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #12 · Off Camera Flash


Thanks so much everyone for your advice! If you ever have a question about HD video I would be very happy to help!

I am surprised how strongly the Canon flashes are being recommended. That is the opposite of what I was reading at many other places (especially strobist).



Feb 11, 2011 at 03:53 AM
saneproduction
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #13 · Off Camera Flash


Gregory Edge wrote:
I had the Pocketwizard ControlTL system. In my opinion the system is just not terrific. It is a good system at best. ....


Thanks for this information (I will get the book for sure).

About radiopoppers, I thought you needed to have a flash on camera to make them work. Incorrect?



Feb 11, 2011 at 03:56 AM
BrianO
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #14 · Off Camera Flash


saneproduction wrote:
...About radiopoppers, I thought you needed to have a flash on camera to make them work. Incorrect?


With the original Radio Poppers (Px system) you attached the translator/repeater/transmitter (which they just call a Px Transmitter) to a hot shoe-mounted flash.

With the new JrX system, the transmitter attaches directly to the hot shoe.

http://www.radiopopper.com/the-jrx-system

Functionally, the JrX transmitter works much like a Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 with AC3 controller in Manual mode.




Feb 11, 2011 at 05:14 AM
saneproduction
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #15 · Off Camera Flash


Hey cgardner:

What do you think of this flash bracket kit and extension cord? I am shooting a 60D with 17-55 2.8 IS, 24 1.4L II, Tokina 11-16 2.8 and Leica R Primes.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/666242-USA/Canon_580EX_II_Speedlite_TTL.html

I don't know what to look for in a bracket or which brand is best. The shoe extension cord looks right.

I may have an old bracket for a hasselblad, but I need to dig around. I tend not to shoot much "portrait" orientation as I am more of a square format or widerscreen fan.



Feb 11, 2011 at 05:42 AM
clarence3
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #16 · Off Camera Flash


The Manfrotto 233B is a very good flash bracket:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/278249-REG/Manfrotto_233B_233B_Telescoping_Camera_Flash_Bracket.html

For an off camera shoe cord, I prefer the Alzo:
http://www.alzodigital.com/online_store/digital_camera_accessory_ocsc_canon_ttl_auto.htm

It has a metal mount bracket plus an angle adjustment. Plus the coil is a little looser so it doesn't fight the bracket as much as the OEM Canon cord.



Feb 11, 2011 at 12:46 PM
cgardner
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #17 · Off Camera Flash


saneproduction wrote:
Hey cgardner:

What do you think of this flash bracket kit and extension cord? I may have an old bracket for a hasselblad, but I need to dig around. I tend not to shoot much "portrait" orientation as I am more of a square format or widerscreen fan.


That is certainly a workable combination. It is mostly a matter keeping the flash dead center above the lens and finding ergonomics that suit your shooting style in the price range you want to spend.

Like you I shot med. format and used a handle and DIY bracket for years. Back in 2000 when I bought my first digital (a Kodak D290 P&S) I had to get new Vivitar 285HV because my old ones high trigger voltages, so I also put a Stroboframe camera flip bracket in the shopping cart. Ten years and three camera later I'm still using it on my 50D because it does the job I want it to.







I like it because it was cheap ($50) light, and I can clip it onto the top handle of my shoulder bag to transport it. Out of habit I cradle the camera at the base of the lens with my left hand and rotate the camera with my right hand on the grip (with a "chicken-wing" extended elbow in portrait mode) when shooting without a bracket, so the ergonomics of that bracket suits me perfectly.

It is not without its faults. The stock configuration with thumbscrew for mounting requires three hands to mount the camera. Some type of QR is needed to preserve your sanity. I use an RRS L bracket on my camera and Wimberly QR on the base but any QR will work. The QR sold by Stroboframe works quite nicely.

The basic flip bracket will not work with grip cameras. As seen in the photo above I had to remove the foam on the grip just to get clearance with a 20D after adding the QR. That wasn't a problem since I don't hold the it by the grip when shooting and when carrying the bracket I grab it at the top near the flash because it balances better that way.

When shooting with a long heavy lens where it is necessary to cradle the lens barrel rather than the base of the bracket the weight of the flash will tend to rotate the arm around camera out of position. That can be prevented by tightening the bolts on the flip mechanism, but I solved the problem by using a cotter pin to lock it in portrait mode when needed...







That works for me because I don't typically change the camera orientation much when using my 70-200mm with flash.




Feb 11, 2011 at 01:14 PM
saneproduction
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #18 · Off Camera Flash


Thanks clarence3!

Thanks for these options! The Manfrotto looks highly rated and a ggod price/performance point.



Feb 11, 2011 at 04:27 PM
saneproduction
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #19 · Off Camera Flash


Thanks cgardner!

I really appreciate the extra effort with pics and pointing out the small workarounds that make these things work. It always takes tons of time to work out the kinks in any system and you have given me a great head start in identifying issues.

Thanks again!



Feb 11, 2011 at 04:32 PM
jerrykur
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #20 · Off Camera Flash


With your budget manual seem like a good place to start. The principals are the same as what you use in video. Set up and build lighting layers, etc.

One worthwhile investment may be the Flashbus tour if it is coming to your city. Dave Hobby and Joe McNally are some of the most knowledgeable guys around on small flashes, and $89 is hard to beat. http://www.theflashbus.com/



Feb 11, 2011 at 04:58 PM
1
       2       3       end




FM Forums | Canon Forum | Join Upload & Sell

1
       2       3       end
    
 

You are not logged in. Login or Register

Username   Password    Retrive password