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Old Mar 11, 2014, 12:33 PM   #1
Alvi
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I need some flash advice...

Hi everyone!
So the birthday of a few friends is coming up in a few days and I've been thinking about maybe taking pictures of their party as a gift since they said they don't want any gifts anyway, this is also a way to spread the word about my photography to more people, which could help me in the future...
They are throwing a party in a cabin somewhere I've been before and I know it is a pretty dark place and cell phone pictures always suck there so I'm considering using this as an excuse to get a flash since I've been thinking about getting one for a while anyway.

I have a Nikon D3100 and I know some flashes cost almost as much as the street value of this camera but I want one that will be good even with something better I would get in the future (thinking full frame).
So yeah, I'm willing to cash out some decent money for a decent flash, any suggestions?

Should I go with a Nikon Speedlight or are there other brands that are good at it too?
I see that the Speedlight SB-700 is a pretty big bestseller here and I've been thinking about getting it, but again I don't know much about flashes...
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Old Mar 11, 2014, 01:16 PM   #2
Apple fanboy
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Speed lights are great, but other brands aren't that bad either. Think about going off camera though if you really want to make things look professional. acearchie did some shots at a party on here a while back in the POTD thread. Basically set up a camera, flash and backdrop and away you go. You might want to think about a soft box as well. I acquired a small Lastolite one from work and a remote cable. The wireless triggers are pretty awesome, but I don't do that much flash photography.
This guide here might help as well http://froknowsphoto.com/flashguide/
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Old Mar 11, 2014, 03:37 PM   #3
compuwar
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Read strobist.blogspot.com
Google "A better bounce card" and "Dragging the shutter."

Paul
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Old Mar 11, 2014, 10:37 PM   #4
steveash
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Check out the Yongnuo YN-565 EX on Amazon. I use a couple of their non-TTL flashes off camera and highly rate them. They are surprisingly well made - at least as good as Canon or Nikon units at a fraction of the price. If you are using it on the camera you really need one with TTL that uses the camera's light meter and exposure to adjust flash power.
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Old Mar 12, 2014, 02:24 AM   #5
MCH-1138
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alvi View Post
So the birthday of a few friends is coming up in a few days...
If you only have a few days to decide, acquire, and learn how to use your flash/speedlight, then my advice is to try and keep it simple. On-camera flash, bounced off the ceiling (or wall) can offer significant improvements and (if you have a compatible flash) lets you keep the flash in TTL mode so you don't have to worry about manual adjustments as you move around or lighting conditions change.

The SB-700 should be a pretty safe bet (assuming it is in your budget, etc.). You might also consider a used SB-600 if you can find one. Or consider renting or borrowing to test out a specific model. I don't have any experience with third-party flashes like those from Yongnuo or others, but there are some with good reviews.

Off-camera flash is great, but there is a learning curve. Like compuwar suggested, strobist.blogspot.com is a tremendous resource, whether you want to just dabble or dive in head-first.

Last edited by MCH-1138; Mar 12, 2014 at 03:43 AM.
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Old Mar 12, 2014, 07:44 AM   #6
admwright
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One thing to remember is that your D3100 does not have any built in off camera flash capabilities. Simplest is to use a flash that has an adjustable head (rotate and tilt) and use it on camera. There are some ways to get off camera working:

1) get a flash that has basic triggering from your build in flash (the speedlights do not have this)
2) get a flash cable - but limited to where you can place the flash, a bracket from the tripod socket is ideal.
3) get radio or IR triggers
4) get multiple flashes where one has commander mode and is used on camera to control the others.

All the best
Andrew W.
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Old Mar 12, 2014, 11:06 AM   #7
Kurwenal
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Originally Posted by compuwar View Post
Read strobist.blogspot.com
Fantastic site. Thanks for the link.
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Old Mar 12, 2014, 06:23 PM   #8
Apple fanboy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alvi View Post
Hi everyone!
So the birthday of a few friends is coming up in a few days and I've been thinking about maybe taking pictures of their party as a gift since they said they don't want any gifts anyway, this is also a way to spread the word about my photography to more people, which could help me in the future...
They are throwing a party in a cabin somewhere I've been before and I know it is a pretty dark place and cell phone pictures always suck there so I'm considering using this as an excuse to get a flash since I've been thinking about getting one for a while anyway.

I have a Nikon D3100 and I know some flashes cost almost as much as the street value of this camera but I want one that will be good even with something better I would get in the future (thinking full frame).
So yeah, I'm willing to cash out some decent money for a decent flash, any suggestions?

Should I go with a Nikon Speedlight or are there other brands that are good at it too?
I see that the Speedlight SB-700 is a pretty big bestseller here and I've been thinking about getting it, but again I don't know much about flashes...
Came a cross this 3 minute video on lighting on dpreviews website http://www.dpreview.com/news/2014/03...&ref=title_0_5

It's by Joe McNally so in my book that makes it worth a quick look.
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Old Mar 12, 2014, 06:54 PM   #9
phrehdd
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I'll just give an opinion -

Consider getting a Nikon speedlight or 3rd party version for Nikon. It is a good place to start. The SB600 or 700 would fit the bill nicely.

In film days, I used lots of different portable strobes, camera flash etc. I remember the batter packs attached to my waist or on a strap on my shoulder and the newer on camera units are so much better than the days of the Metz, Sunpaks etc in terms of handling exposure. (Yes I had Vivitar 283 and 285 as well modified).

If you opt for a solution of this sort, then you can learn how to use bounced light, diffusers and fill light ratios properly. Your purchase wont go to waste.

You have the luxury of digital where you can pretty much get your results quickly and thus the curve for expertise (if you are willing) is far quicker than the days where one waited for film development.
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Old Mar 13, 2014, 12:18 PM   #10
Dave00
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As far as an easy-to-do, low-budget fix that will make an enormous difference in your photos, get a flash that you can bounce off another surface, such as a ceiling or wall. SB400 is a good start. SB700 will also let you rotate in the horizontal plane, which lets you also bounce off the ceiling in portrait orientation, but it's heavier and bulkier.
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Old Mar 13, 2014, 12:28 PM   #11
Laird Knox
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Originally Posted by admwright View Post
1) get a flash that has basic triggering from your build in flash (the speedlights do not have this)
Yes they do. I have used the SB700 in optical slave mode many times - Often triggered by a Younguo manual flash.
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Old Mar 14, 2014, 07:00 AM   #12
admwright
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Originally Posted by Laird Knox View Post
Yes they do. I have used the SB700 in optical slave mode many times - Often triggered by a Younguo manual flash.
This is good to know - and it works from the flash of a D3xxx without commander mode?
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Old Mar 14, 2014, 11:38 AM   #13
MCH-1138
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Originally Posted by admwright View Post
This is good to know - and it works from the flash of a D3xxx without commander mode?
Yes, although you won't have the TTL capabilities that you would with the CLS system -- you would need an on-camera flash with commander mode for that.

In SU-4 slave mode, the SB-700 fires as an optical slave (i.e., whenever it sees another flash). So you should put the built-in flash on the D3xxx in manual mode if you go this route (because the pre-flashes in TTL mode will likely trigger the off-camera flash early). It's a simple, but effective, set-up if you are comfortable with manual vs. TTL. However, the optically-slaved flash will fire anytime anyone uses a flash (point-and-shoots, etc.).
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Old Mar 14, 2014, 11:38 AM   #14
Laird Knox
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Originally Posted by admwright View Post
This is good to know - and it works from the flash of a D3xxx without commander mode?
Yes and no - keep in mind we are talking about an optical slave. That means no TTL support. You set the power manually and when it sees another strobe fire it also fires.

So you would still use the built in flash in this case. As long as the SB700 can detect the flash it will fire. I've used this in some quick home studio setups when I didn't want to deal with a full setup. In this case I didn't want the built in flash to register in the image so I held my hand a few inches in front of the built in flash to shield the scene. The indirect light was enough to trigger the other lights.

In fact, Nikon even makes a little shade for the built in flash. It is designed for using the IR command mode but would have the same impact as when I shaded the shot with my hand.

If you are using the SB700 in this way you are losing a lot of the benefit of the device. For a simple manual strobe I have used several of the Yongnuo YN 460 II lights and found them to be very reliable. You can buy half a dozen of them for the price of an SB700. It all really depends on what you want to do. A few manual strobes might be worth more than a single TTL strobe depending on your subjects.

Setting the SB700 for optical slave mode isn't all that obvious, but once you set it once it is easy to switch on and off.

As mentioned above, the Strobist sight is an excellent source of information on all things strobe.
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Old Mar 14, 2014, 11:53 AM   #15
MCH-1138
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Incidentally, if this type of functionality is important to you and you are wanting to stay within the Nikon speedlight system, then an SB-700 or used SB-800 may be better options than a used SB-600, which I suggested earlier. The SB-600 cannot act as a commander for other CLS flashes, and it does not have the SU-4 optical slave mode. It needs to be in a CLS system in order to be used remotely.

And Laird Knox makes a very good point about needing to consider what the built-in flash is contributing if you are using an optically-slaved off-camera flash.
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