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Flash advice for Nikon


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I'm considering to take up a volunteer opportunity to photograph an event for a local charity. It will be at a function room held indoors. All my photography up till now has been either outdoors or still life images taken indoors using a tripod (using natural light and or inside light sources but not a flash).

 

My knowledge about flash photography is limited, so I thought I would ask those who do use a flash what their recommendations for an affordable but reasonable quality flash might be? I've started to have a look at options and a mid-level option that seems like it could be good is the Nikon SB-700, but there are cheaper ones again that may be perfectly adequate.

 

I would be looking for something that can provide a diffuse light that is suitable for indoor portraits, both posed and candid. My camera is a Nikon D5200. I would most likely be using my Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 lens which I think is about the focal range I would need. I understand that more powerful flashes are required for telephoto focal lengths, but in this case I don't think I need anything especially powerful.

 

So just wondering if anyone has any advice on this topic? Thanks in advance.

 

(I realise now I probably should have posted this in the technical thread, but as it is already here and I can't delete it I'll just leave it here for now.)

Edited by Sally R
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Sally I would suggest getting in as much practice as you can with whatever flash you decide to use.  (If possible in the venue) I do not use flash much, I tend to use off camera wireless controlled with modifiers.  Whenever I do the occasional model shoot it takes me about half the session to get the output exactly the way I want it.  There is a lot of good guidance on you tube etc but the only way to really learn is to practice with the kit you are going to use on the day until you get consistent (and that is the key) results that you are happy with and match your vision.

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To help soften shadows when using bounce flash inside the use of a Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce diffuser cap on the flash is a rugged easy to use solution.  Put the cap on the flash and angle the flash up.

http://www.stofen.net/

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3 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

..and it looks as if Martin Parr likes Gary Fong:

 

Martin Parr photographer at work in Oxford Street London, Martin Parr is a British documentary photographer, and  photojournalist Stock Photo

 

https://www.alamy.com/2F3DF8T

 

Bunch of different solutions to this: MagMod MagSphere, that, some larger than usual bounce card-like things, repurposed Tupperwear container, and the Gary Fong thing.  The smaller difusers and bounced cards work, but not as well as the larger ones.  Other thing to do is take as many photos as possible with people away from wall by at least four or five feet.  My Nissin i40 flash came with something like the Sto -Fens.  It works sort of, but the bigger diffusers (Gary Fong, MagMod MagSphere, or the repurposed Tupperwear) spread the light better. 

Edited by MizBrown
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19 hours ago, IanDavidson said:

Sally I would suggest getting in as much practice as you can with whatever flash you decide to use.  (If possible in the venue) I do not use flash much, I tend to use off camera wireless controlled with modifiers.  Whenever I do the occasional model shoot it takes me about half the session to get the output exactly the way I want it.  There is a lot of good guidance on you tube etc but the only way to really learn is to practice with the kit you are going to use on the day until you get consistent (and that is the key) results that you are happy with and match your vision.

 

Thank you Ian. That's excellent advice. I haven't applied to do it yet as still deciding whether I will be up to scratch in time to deliver what they want (the event is at the end of the month). Should I purchase a flash in the next few days I will be practising a lot to make sure I'm familiar with it as possible. They may have other applicants for this volunteer position anyway, but I was just keen to build up some skills and experience, and it also feels meaningful to do it for a charity. Will think further over the weekend. In any case, I think I'd like to get a flash and learn well how to use it, so will probably be buying one. And yes, you are absolutely right - building consistency through practice is absolutely necessary to deliver the results you want.

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12 hours ago, Phil said:

To help soften shadows when using bounce flash inside the use of a Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce diffuser cap on the flash is a rugged easy to use solution.  Put the cap on the flash and angle the flash up.

http://www.stofen.net/

 

Many thanks Phil, that's great to know 👍

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7 hours ago, MizBrown said:

Bunch of different solutions to this: MagMod MagSphere, that, some larger than usual bounce card-like things, repurposed Tupperwear container, and the Gary Fong thing.  The smaller difusers and bounced cards work, but not as well as the larger ones.  Other thing to do is take as many photos as possible with people away from wall by at least four or five feet.  My Nissin i40 flash came with something like the Sto -Fens.  It works sort of, but the bigger diffusers (Gary Fong, MagMod MagSphere, or the repurposed Tupperwear) spread the light better.

 

Thanks Miz Brown. The Nikon SB 700 has its own bounce card, but possibly it may not work as well as some of the larger options you mention. I would have to look more into it.

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11 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

..and it looks as if Martin Parr likes Gary Fong:

 

Martin Parr photographer at work in Oxford Street London, Martin Parr is a British documentary photographer, and  photojournalist Stock Photo

 

https://www.alamy.com/2F3DF8T

 

Thanks Harry. The Gary Fong diffuser looks interesting. I'll do some research into that. It's interesting seeing photographers become the subjects in stock photos too!

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7 hours ago, MizBrown said:

It works sort of, but the bigger diffusers (Gary Fong, MagMod MagSphere, or the repurposed Tupperwear) spread the light better. 

 

1 minute ago, Sally R said:

Thanks Harry. The Gary Fong diffuser looks interesting. I'll do some research into that. It's interesting seeing photographers become the subjects in stock photos too!

 

I don't use flash that often any more but it's true to say that the main factor is the size of the modified or reflected light source. Back in the day I used a 'bounce-card' accessory for my Vivitar 285 and Metz also made one for their large hammer-heads which I still use from time to time. Both work very well for fill in because of the size of the light source off the card and of course in a small room you'll then get even more bounce and softness off the walls and ceiling. The Vivitar accessory was metal and very well made but not so easy to fit in the camera bag, the Metz is smaller, plastic and comes apart. Both are often impractical in the field of course - not good for candids!

 

Actually Martin Parr has always been excellent with balancing ambient and flash, inside and outside, it's almost a trademark of his work. This was even back in the days of film when he couldn't see what he was going to get, I don't think he used cameras that had the Polaroid option.

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4 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

I don't use flash that often any more but it's true to say that the main factor is the size of the modified or reflected light source. Back in the day I used a 'bounce-card' accessory for my Vivitar 285 and Metz also made one for their large hammer-heads which I still use from time to time. Both work very well for fill in because of the size of the light source off the card and of course in a small room you'll then get even more bounce and softness off the walls and ceiling. The Vivitar accessory was metal and very well made but not so easy to fit in the camera bag, the Metz is smaller, plastic and comes apart. Both are often impractical in the field of course - not good for candids!

 

Actually Martin Parr has always been excellent with balancing ambient and flash, inside and outside, it's almost a trademark of his work. This was even back in the days of film when he couldn't see what he was going to get, I don't think he used cameras that had the Polaroid option.

 

Thank you Harry. It's fascinating how each aspect of photography has its own craft, including with working with flash. I kind of like how photography is a never-ending learning curve, as there is always something new to learn about!

 

I just had a look at Martin Parr's website here https://www.martinparr.com/ He certainly has his own distinctive style and many of the images look exactly like what to you describe, a blending of ambient and flash as light sources.

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14 minutes ago, Sally R said:

I just had a look at Martin Parr's website here https://www.martinparr.com/ He certainly has his own distinctive style and many of the images look exactly like what to you describe, a blending of ambient and flash as light sources.

He has had a fascinating career and I would think is now the UK's most influential photographer, his pictures can divide people. I loved his early black & white pictures before he moved exclusively to colour, but I like them too of course.  Controversially accepted into Magnum which supposedly upset some of the founding members, later became President. A huge commercial success, I'd love to visit his gallery in Bristol sometime.

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27 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

He has had a fascinating career and I would think is now the UK's most influential photographer, his pictures can divide people. I loved his early black & white pictures before he moved exclusively to colour, but I like them too of course.  Controversially accepted into Magnum which supposedly upset some of the founding members, later became President. A huge commercial success, I'd love to visit his gallery in Bristol sometime.

 

He certainly has his own unique style. Possibly when he went to colour the use of flash may have made his images look a bit garish to some people, but it is his own style and I think it works for what he does.

 

I just had a look at this article on his black and white images https://time.com/3803347/the-non-conformists-martin-parrs-early-work-in-black-and-white/ I was able to scroll through the images by moving the red bar along under the first photo. There is definitely some humour there, I think my favourite one being the two elderly women who have fallen asleep in church 😂   It's like he captures aspects of ordinary life but in an eccentric way.

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24 minutes ago, Sally R said:

was able to scroll through the images by moving the red bar along under the first photo

Thanks, that's not immediately obvious is it? Pic 3, the travelling hairdresser, shows his use of fill-in flash well. The soft shadows reveal that the room is not well lit but the overall effect is natural.

 

His accusers suggest that he is laughing at people, rather than with them. His book the 'Last Resort'  on run-down New Brighton gleaned such criticism which he took to heart somewhat so he diverted his attention to the middle classes in 'The Cost of Living'.

 

A local camera club invited him to speak a few years ago and non-members were welcome. It was in a school hall, I think he was 'warming-up' for some bigger events but he was so charming and engaging, plenty of time for everyone. Not what I was expecting actually.

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Sally I also have and have used the following, it just fits on top of the speed light with velcro very easy to use.  When I got it, it didn't come with all the various gels, or if it did, I must have put them in a safe place and now can't find them😁

 

https://viewfinderphotography.co.uk/mini-beauty-dish-accessory-pack/

 

I also had a Metz hammerhead flash, it's very large but did made the camera heavier although I didn't mind these as it also gave it a bit more balance.

 

Good luck in whatever system you decide to go with and fingers crossed you will get the position.

 

Now I tend to go with the less is more, maybe I'm just getting lazy😁

 

What I will say also is this - re: function rooms - they are as the name suggests functional.  You may not get perfect backgrounds i.e., there maybe speakers/wires/ microphones all where you don't really want them which really used to annoy me at first but I quickly learned work with what you've got, if you can't exclude it, include it.  Also get the brief beforehand from your client to know exactly what is required.  

 

Also I'm not sure what your charity is, maybe it's a very small one that cannot afford to pay for photography.  The charity I did work for is a large Cancer charity in the UK.  These larger organisations do have budgets that do/did include photo shoots - in my case anyway.  It is not only the shoot you will be doing of course, travel to and from the venue and post processing after the shoot etc. etc.  

 

Like you say everything is a learning curve so enjoy .....

 

Carol

 

 

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1 hour ago, CAROL SAUNDERS said:

Sally I also have and have used the following, it just fits on top of the speed light with velcro very easy to use.  When I got it, it didn't come with all the various gels, or if it did, I must have put them in a safe place and now can't find them😁

 

https://viewfinderphotography.co.uk/mini-beauty-dish-accessory-pack/

 

I also had a Metz hammerhead flash, it's very large but did made the camera heavier although I didn't mind these as it also gave it a bit more balance.

 

Good luck in whatever system you decide to go with and fingers crossed you will get the position.

 

Now I tend to go with the less is more, maybe I'm just getting lazy😁

 

What I will say also is this - re: function rooms - they are as the name suggests functional.  You may not get perfect backgrounds i.e., there maybe speakers/wires/ microphones all where you don't really want them which really used to annoy me at first but I quickly learned work with what you've got, if you can't exclude it, include it.  Also get the brief beforehand from your client to know exactly what is required.  

 

Also I'm not sure what your charity is, maybe it's a very small one that cannot afford to pay for photography.  The charity I did work for is a large Cancer charity in the UK.  These larger organisations do have budgets that do/did include photo shoots - in my case anyway.  It is not only the shoot you will be doing of course, travel to and from the venue and post processing after the shoot etc. etc.  

 

Like you say everything is a learning curve so enjoy .....

 

Carol

 

Thank you so much Carol. So much helpful advice on this topic. I really appreciate it!

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I'd certainly second (or third) the Godox on camera flash heads .. very reliable, not too expensive and can later adapt into a bigger system if required. Lots of options on ebay and Amazon (it might be work looking at a couple of the YouTube tutorials/reviews to see which option best suits your need).

For a bit more money the Nikon Speedlights are also worth looking at.

 

As for Martin Parr he's a bit of a 'marmite' photographer .. you either love his work or you don't. Rumour has it he was paid over quarter of a million (pounds sterling) for his advertising work for Gucci .. https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/mar/22/gucci-makeup-campaign-mascara-parr-brush-controversy-dani-miller-beauty

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1 hour ago, wilkopix said:

I'd certainly second (or third) the Godox on camera flash heads .. very reliable, not too expensive and can later adapt into a bigger system if required. Lots of options on ebay and Amazon (it might be work looking at a couple of the YouTube tutorials/reviews to see which option best suits your need).

 

I have multiple Godox flashes and accessories at this point.  I'd recommend buying from the British Godox reseller as the Chinese vendors on eBay are not useful in warranty issues, and I'd be cautious about buying used.  The latest Godox flashes seem to be better made (color stability has improved) and the latest radio controllers are easier to use than the ones I have.  Used Nikon vs. new Godox, your choice.  From some comments here and on Godox users groups on Facebook, the earliest Godox products were rather funky.

 

Gary Fong light modifier is around $60 plus shipping from B&H Photo.  The MagMod light modifier requires buying the magnetic holder for the MagSphere, so $50  plus $25 for the MagGrip, but the MagMod system had some other attachments that work with the MagGrip.  I've also used the Tupperware solution, which requires an Exacto knife for cutting the hole, but which is rather unprofessional looking for paid gigs.  Rogue Flashbender has some other options.   Vello makes some small on flash soft boxes.  I have no experience with those or the Gary Fong light modifier.

 

If you can bounce off white walls and ceilings, that's even better for small spaces, but less effective in large ones. 

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On 03/04/2021 at 00:06, wilkopix said:

I'd certainly second (or third) the Godox on camera flash heads .. very reliable, not too expensive and can later adapt into a bigger system if required. Lots of options on ebay and Amazon (it might be work looking at a couple of the YouTube tutorials/reviews to see which option best suits your need).

For a bit more money the Nikon Speedlights are also worth looking at.

 

On 03/04/2021 at 02:10, MizBrown said:

I have multiple Godox flashes and accessories at this point.  I'd recommend buying from the British Godox reseller as the Chinese vendors on eBay are not useful in warranty issues, and I'd be cautious about buying used.  The latest Godox flashes seem to be better made (color stability has improved) and the latest radio controllers are easier to use than the ones I have.  Used Nikon vs. new Godox, your choice.  From some comments here and on Godox users groups on Facebook, the earliest Godox products were rather funky.

 

Gary Fong light modifier is around $60 plus shipping from B&H Photo.  The MagMod light modifier requires buying the magnetic holder for the MagSphere, so $50  plus $25 for the MagGrip, but the MagMod system had some other attachments that work with the MagGrip.  I've also used the Tupperware solution, which requires an Exacto knife for cutting the hole, but which is rather unprofessional looking for paid gigs.  Rogue Flashbender has some other options.   Vello makes some small on flash soft boxes.  I have no experience with those or the Gary Fong light modifier.

 

If you can bounce off white walls and ceilings, that's even better for small spaces, but less effective in large ones. 

 

Thank you Wilkopix and Miz Brown for further info on Godox. It is useful to know and I will keep looking into the various options and do some more research to find out what will work best for me.

 

On 03/04/2021 at 00:06, wilkopix said:

As for Martin Parr he's a bit of a 'marmite' photographer .. you either love his work or you don't. Rumour has it he was paid over quarter of a million (pounds sterling) for his advertising work for Gucci .. https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/mar/22/gucci-makeup-campaign-mascara-parr-brush-controversy-dani-miller-beauty

 

Yes, Martin Parr seems to be a controversial figure. I had a look at the article about the Gucci campaign. I guess you could say he captures a kind of honest reality vs the often highly processed images of people we often see, especially in advertising. After a while highly perfected, processed images can start to become a bit repetitive and predictable. Gucci may have thought it is a good marketing tactic to present images differently and capture peoples' attention. Quarter of a million pounds is a lot of money!

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I used to use flash/strobes regularly in my film shooting days, mainly a Metz 402 and later a 45CT1, more compact. With my current Nikons now I use flash pretty infrequently. I still own 3 old SB-24’s (used with stands and light modifiers and wireless triggering), a Nikon SB-600 and 2 Godox flash guns, the small pocketable TT350-N and a V860ii-N and spare battery. The Godox V860ii-N usually gets the most use, and the Li-ion battery is a huge improvement over AA cells. The first V860ii was DOA out of the box, its replacement has had no issues.

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