Archivi categoria: speedlights

The Pros and Cons Of Speedlight Flash Photography

Lighting is the most important element of a photograph. It is essentially the only thing that a picture is truly made of. And it’s the quality and type of light that really sets a picture apart from the masses of imagery, or limits a photo’s ability to really captivate an audience.

One convenient means of shooting in low-light, indoor situations—or if you want to add some fill light to an outdoor location shoot—is to employ the use of speedlight flashes. Speedlights really shine (no pun intended) in some instances, but they can also lack in others.

In this article, I want to cover some of the pros and cons of using speedlights as off-camera light sources, as well as the unquestionable limitations of using these types of intermittent photography lights. You’ll also see a series of speedlight-only photos I recently shot, which highlight how you can make these portable light sources work for you.

Cons – A weaker, smaller light source with a narrow beam

In comparison to studio strobes, speedlights have a very low lighting output; even set to full power, they can only produce about 1/4 (or less) of the light emitted by the average studio strobe or monolight.

They also produce a very narrow beam of light. This results in hard edged shadows and a rapid falloff of light that doesn’t gradually taper into a nice, soft gradient. Unlike the more aesthetically pleasing, long shadows of low angle sunlight, the light from speedlights often ends up looking more artificial than larger light sources.

Additionally, the light being output from a speedlight often looks rather stark and displeasing (those narrow beams again). When compared to the softer lighting created by studio strobes, speedlights can make skin and other surfaces appear hard and rough.

Finally, you have to be very precise with your placement and positioning of speedlights to ensure the light ends up in the right place.

Pros – There’s a modifier for that

Based on the above points, speedlights are not the ideal light source for many types of photography; however, because they are so light-weight and portable, many photographers still like to use them, combining them with flash modifiers to try to combat the issues I just explained. These days there are many types of softboxes, umbrellas, and other attachments made specifically for use with speedlights.

The main problem with modifiers is that most of them will reduce the net power output by at least 25%. This can be a problem when you already have very little total light output to start with, so keep that in mind.

Speedlights can also add a lot to a photo as a fill light when shooting with ambient light, or when you’re in a dark or shaded area where the colors are looking a bit drab. This means using the available light as your main or “key” light source, and filling in the shadow with a speedlight to give your photos that extra bit of pop.

Finally, speedlights can also be very useful when you are on a shooting location with limited access to electrical power, or when you’re working in tight spaces where it might be difficult to set up larger strobes.

Make It Work

Despite all the cons mentioned above, the photos you see in this post were shot using only a group of 3 speedlights triggered remotely in a very dimly lit weightlifting gym.

For this shoot I was looking for an edgy, high-contrast light source to give the photos that sort of “hardcore” look. I also didn’t want my light to spread out too much, because I needed to isolate the subject as best I could from the environment. In a situation like this, speedlights are the perfect type of lighting.

I placed three speedlights on lightweight light stands and used a radio trigger to fire them. All the shots seen in this post were shot with a 70-200mm lens at an aperture of f/5.6 with ISO set between 100 and 200.

For my lighting placement on these shots, I positioned two speedlights either alongside or behind the subject. Then I positioned a third light high up on a light stand in front of the subject and pointed downwards to obtain a bit of frontal fill.

And there you have it. Using speedlights as your main light source can be very limiting, especially if you’re used to working with more powerful studio strobes, but it can be done. Just pick your situation and techniques carefully, and keep your limitations in mind.


About the author: Marc Schultz is a travel and commercial photographer who writes a blog about various aspects of photography during his free time. To read more of his writing visit the Marc Schultz Photography Blog. A similar version of this article was published on Marc’s blog.

Nikon Adds Built-In Wireless Flash Control With the SB-5000 Speedlight Flash

Nikon SB-5000 Speedlight with Radio Triggering

The big news today out of the Nikon camp was obviously their new DSLRs, but they also have some pretty noteworthy news about their flash system. The new Nikon SB-5000 is the first Nikon flash to have wireless radio functionality built right in, which is a considerable advance for their DSLR line.

The SB-5000 has a wireless range of about 98 feet and, unlike flashes that are remotely controlled with a pop-up flash, it doesn’t need to be within the camera’s line of sight. So, if you want to hide a flash around a corner or behind a wall, you can do just that.

The flash itself is comparable in overall power to the SB-910 that came before it. The speedlights can be arranged in up to six groups, each of which can contain a total of 18 flash units. The SB-5000 can be controlled via in-camera menus and can mix and match TTL and manual operation.

The radio system is only compatible with the new D5 and D5000 cameras at the moment, and it requires that you buy a WR-R10 transmitter in order to to control things remotely.

Interestingly enough, the radio system can also be combined with the optical system, so you can have even more flexibility if you have some older Nikon flashes or an SU-800 Commander unit.

Aside from the radio, the form factor has been switched up a little bit, which allowed Nikon to fit a new cooling system, which the company claims helps it fire more often over a longer period of time before overheating.

The SB-5000 will cost $599 when it hits the market in March, which certainly isn’t inexpensive in terms of wireless flash capabilities, but it costs only $50 more than the SB-910 at the time of this writing.

Built-in speedlight radio triggers seem to be working for Canon, which released its second RF Speedlite last year. It will be interesting to see how Nikon’s system actually measures up.

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Nikon Announces Development of the D5 DSLR, SB-5000 Speedlight, and WT-6 Wireless Transmitter

Nikon D5s DSLR Announcement

This is not a picture of the Nikon D5. There are no pictures of the Nikon D5 yet.

If you’re a Nikon shooter and you excitedly clicked on this link expecting details about the company’s upcoming flagship DSLR and speed lights, you’re going to be a bit disappointed. Nikon has announced that they are making a D5 DSLR as well as an SB-5000 speed light, and a WT-6 Wireless Transmitter. And that’s about all the details we’ve got so far.

I’ll put the full press release at the bottom of this post so you can search for hidden clues encoded into its text like you’re Nicolas Cage in National Treasure.

So, while I’m typically diametrically opposed to rampant speculation about cameras that don’t actually exist yet, it seems like Nikon is encouraging it in this case, so have at it in the comments. Here are some questions I’m going to be curious about for the new stuff:

  • Will it still have a QXD memory card slot like the D4s or has that format’s relative lack of momentum cause them to switch to something else?

  • Will it follow the current trend of high-resolution DSLRs, or will they continue to try and strike a balance between speed, image quality, and resolution?

  • Will the new flash and wireless trigger work on radio rather than infrared? It only seems logical sine Canon seems to be having some success with their RT system.

  • How hilarious is it that there’s already a Google listing for Ken Rockwell’s “review” of the Nikon D5?

  • Will the D5 have 4K Video?

So, there you have it. Speculate away. Here’s the press release:

MELVILLE, NY (November 17, 2015) – Today, Nikon Corporation announced the development of the next generation of professional FX-format DSLRs, the Nikon D5. Nikon also announced the development of the SB-5000 Speedlight, which will be Nikon’s flagship Speedlight, as well as the development of the new WT-6 Wireless Transmitter.

The Nikon D5 will offer professional photographers an even higher level of performance and image quality. When combined with these advanced accessories and the vast lineup of existing NIKKOR lenses, Nikon is offering photographers new levels of imaging expression.

Details about these products, including release date and suggested retail price will be announced at a future date and time. For more information about Nikon and the latest Nikon cameras and products, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

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New Gear: Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm F/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens and SB-300 Flash

Some new options for mid-level Nikon shooters

For some time, the 18-135mm has been a familiar focal range for mid-level zoom lenses, but Nikon has taken it just a little further with the 18-140mm AF-S DX Nikkor F/3.5-5.6G ED VR. 

The new lens is made for APS-C DSLRs (DX format) and has revamped VR that promises up to four stops of stabilization according to the new, more stringent standards. It has a seven-blade diaphragm and a built-in silent-wave motor for quiet focusing. 

When it arrives later this month, it will cost $599, which makes it a likely upgrade option from the standard kit lens. 

Also new is the SB-300 Speedlight, which is priced at just $149 and is designed for use with DSLRs as well as Nikon's advanced compacts like the CoolPix A. It's powered by a pair of AAA batteries and it has a wide coverage area to accommodate wide-angle lenses on APS-C cameras. You can also tilt the head up 120-degrees four bounce. flash controls are handled by on-camera menus, so the actual flash design is kept pretty simple. 

Like the 18-140mm lens, the SB-300 should arrive later this month. We're eager to get our hands on both and take them for test drives.

Full press releases below:

MELVILLE, N.Y. (August 6, 2013) – Today, Nikon Inc. announced the new AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens and the compact SB-300 Speedlight, both versatile and exciting tools to help capture amazing images and HD video. Ideal for shooting everything from portraits to landscapes, the 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR presents a great zoom lens option for DX-format D-SLR users. Sporting Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization, users will be able to capture sharp handheld photos and videos in a variety of shooting scenarios. The SB-300 provides a compact and easy-to-use adjustable Speedlight option for photographers who want to explore creative lighting at an affordable price point.

“Nikon’s system accessories are designed to let the user capture their memories in vibrant detail and tell compelling stories through imagery and HD video,” said Bo Kajiwara, Vice President of Marketing, Planning and Customer Experience, Nikon Inc. “While the new 18-140mm lens presents a versatile and powerful lens option for DX-format shooters, the SB-300 Speedlight introduces the benefits of flash photography to a wide range of users, specifically those who use either Advanced Performance COOLPIX or D-SLR cameras.”

The 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR: A Versatile Zoom Lens for DX-Format Shooters

A valuable and practical asset for everyday photographers and enthusiasts, Nikon’s newest lens features a 7.8x zoom range that helps capture beautiful images and HD video from a variety of focal lengths. Whether shooting portraits, landscapes, travel or architecture, the 18-140mm offering delivers astounding image quality when shooting wide-angle or far-away telephoto. Equipped with VR image stabilization, the lens also features four stops* of VR image stabilization, helping to ensure sharp photos and video even in low-light situations or while handheld.

The AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens is built upon core NIKKOR technologies designed to render photos and HD video with the utmost clarity and color reproduction. Constructed with one ED glass element and one aspheric lens element, the 18-140mm lens sports a seven-blade diaphragm for natural image blur and a Silent Wave Motor (SVM) that provides quiet and precise AF operation. Additionally, photographers can operate the lens using one of two focus modes, M/A (AF with manual override) and M (manual) for complete control.

The SB-300: Illuminate Creative Possibilities

The SB-300 Speedlight is small enough to fit comfortably into a shirt pocket yet it is built for the user looking to take flash photography to the next level. Providing more power and coverage than a built-in flash, the versatile and portable SB-300 is a simple and valuable lighting accessory compatible with both Nikon D-SLR and Advanced Performance COOLPIX cameras. This new Speedlight covers a wide-angle 18mm in DX-format and operates via simple on-camera controls, making it easy for beginner photographers to use light to their advantage. 

The SB-300 tilts up 120 degrees, allowing for the use of creative bounce flash to soften shadows and diffuse the flash, resulting in more flattering portraits and even exposures.  For additional convenience, the firmware is upgradable through supporting D-SLRs, and this Speedlight is powered by two AAA batteries. Additionally, the SB-300 features thermal cut-out protection to prevent overheating when capturing rapid flash images in succession.

Price and Availability

The AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens will be available in late August 2013 for suggested retail price (SRP) of $599.95**. The SB-300 will also be available in late August 2013 for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $149.95**. For more information on NIKKOR lenses and accessories as well as other Nikon products, please visit  HYPERLINK "http://www.nikonusa.com" www.nikonusa.com.

Nikon 18-140mm Lens
Photo by: Popular Photography Magazine Editor

Nikon 18-140mm Lens

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New Gear: Profoto RFi Softboxes

Profoto RFi Softboxes

Profoto's new light shapers are compatible with a wide range of lighting systems

There's no shortage of offerings when it comes to light shaping tools, but now Profoto has created their new RFi line of soft boxes that work with a wide variety of lighting systems. 

There are four shapes to choose from: Traditional rectangle, strip, octagon, and square. Each shape has its own selection of available sizes. There are also modifiers like grids and diffusers for each size and shape.

The most interesting thing, however, is that Profoto also offers a variety of speed rings that make the RFi line compatible with more than 20 different brands. There's even a speedring made specifically for using small flashes, which is very useful.

The rods used to construct the softboxes are color-coded, which some brands have been doing for a while, but it's a welcome addition for Profoto. Each box has a silver lining and a sturdy sewn cover so they transmit more light and will withstand the beatings often suffered by traveling softboxes.

Since these are made by Profoto, they won't be cheap, but they will likely be very good and extremely sturdy. We hope to get a few in for review, especially that speedlight adapter, to see how they stand up against the rest.

Check the Profoto site for more info

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Hybrid Ring Flash is the Frankenstein of the Lighting World

Okay — maybe it’s trying to reinvent the wheel, er, ring flash, but this could be an interesting gadget: Chinese company CononMark has unveiled a flash system that looks like a cross between a ring flash, speedlights, bracket flash and modeling lights.

Some of the flash highlights include four LED lights for video lighting or modeling lights, plus the four speedlight-like flash heads that can be positioned independently in different directions. The flash heads also include diffuser panels and bounce cards. Finally, the flash has a wireless triggering system via a transmitter that mounts on the hot shoe. It looks like it could be a versatile system with a lot of flash types packed into one device — though if you already own a ring flash, speedlights and brackets — it may be redundant or make more sense to own the items À la carte.

The CononMark iQ was presented at the Shanghai Photo & Imaging trade show this month, according to Lighting Rumors — and no word on the price or availability yet.

iQ Shadowless Ring Light (via Lighting Rumors)