Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Camera, flashes, sizes

Lookit this:

... And the remarkable thing is that there are actually professional cameras and flashes which are about 50% bigger than the 5D2 and the 580EX2 on the left!

The Lightsphere feels good, won't break (soft plastic), and does a good job.

Just got the 580EX II today, it is very nice also. It is Canons biggest, and it is actually remarkable that for the power it has, it's not bigger physically (and less than half a kilo), and still only uses 4 AA batteries, and doesn't even drain them fast, I'm told.

My early impression is that this flash and defuser is a powerful and flexible combo, and even easy to use, simply put everything on auto, and the camera adjust things so they usually look very nice.

My apartment has pretty low ceilings, so with the top left off the LightSphere the top-light was pretty overbearing in many test-pictures, but it helped a lot when I put in the "dome", which concentrates a greater percentage of the light out through the diffuser itself. And Gary Fong had indeed said that this was its use.

Below is a sample of how the diffuser softens the light, and the camera/flash automatically balances the light, making the whole thing look very natural. Before flash-metering through the lens, it was a difficult procedure to balance flash and daylight. (And with film you did not have an instant preview of course.)

I had to find data on it on the net (google is my friend), for it seemed the auto-zoom did not work, but now it does. And it's just so cool to zoom the lens and have the flash zoom automatically follow it! I really didn't know they could do that.


Philocalist said...

I've used Canon cameras with the bigger flashguns for years ... just thought I'd give a little 'heads up' over a potential troublespot that might save you a very expensive repair.
As you rightly recognise, the flashguns are hefty units ... attached to the camera at the hotshoe, which results in an alarmingly flimsy physical connection (it's the same with all on-camera flash, not just Canon).

They are WAY too easy to snap off, either accidentally as you carry it assembled, or when you walk past an obstruction ... also a major liability in a crowd ... and as I've found out (unfortunately)they also make a very vulnerable target for anyone at all who may object to you being there with a camera, as they can be 'accidentally' snapped off so easily as a discouragement ... cue doorstaff / security staff / police .....

RCMEDIA said...

Looks like a wide-mouth funnel used for loading focusing fluid into the camera.

How does it get from the flash to the camera? --- or is it flash fluid that's loaded that way...?

Tommy said...

Philocalist - "They are WAY too easy to snap off, either accidentally as you carry it assembled"

Can you share your solution to this problem? How would you handle this (aka. in a crowd)?


Philocalist said...

Tommy ... afraid I never really found a solution to this specific problem, other than to learn how to get the photos that I wanted, without needing a flashgun.
The crowds I refer to were usually inside a musuc venue or at an outdoor concert: either way, the crowding could be quite 'vigourous', but rarely ill-intentioned.
Fortunately, I've always been a lump bigger than most of the people around me, which helps: moving within the crowd with the camera / flash assembled used to see me 'cuddling' them both across my chest to offer whatever safety I could.
Such problems pushed me a little towards what was probably the best practice for such situations, which were invariably dark and lit by multi-cloured lighting ... my subjects were often coloured musicians in dark clothing, bouncing about to the music, usually with a dark or black background, just to make matters a little more difficult!
I ended up investing in some seriously 'fast' Canon 'L' series lenses, which allowed me to work with available light rather than flash ... the 50mm lens had a maximum aperture of f1.0 .. yep, you read that correctly! ... the 85mm was an f1.2, and the 200mm telephoto was an f1.8, which I could extend using 'multipliers', either 1.4x (and lost 1 stop) or the 2x, which cost me 2 stops (but gave me effectively a 400mm lens with a max aperture around f3.5). My 'standard' lens was an f2.8 80-200mm zoom, which probably accounted for maybe 90% of the pictures that I ever took!
Flash guns had until that time been a necessary evil, if I was to work in those conditions; one of the biggest problems with them having such advanced electronics / synchronisation is that a knock could apparently leave the camera / flash undamaged when in reality the connection area of the flash was cracked, compromising the electronics, which was never apparent until way too late ... I'm talking pre-digital here, so no such thing as LCD screed previews etc! :-)
Not to mention, a flashgun with suspect electrics can give you a HELL of a belt, even though they are powered by a handful of 1.5v batterys!

eolake said...

I've tried to charge the flash by pouring Juice into this. I seem to be doing something wrong.

This flash at least has a metal foot.

eolake said...

Did you try to have the flash on a bracket?

TC [Girl] said...

Eo...just for grins, could you do a comparison shot; 1) without the diffuser and 1) with the diffuser? It would be interesting to see how much softer the lighting is w/the diffuser.

eolake said...

I should have thought about that. I've posted samples now in a new post. Quite striking.

Philocalist said...

Did you try to have the flash on a bracket? .......

It was an option, but to retain the 'dedication' and advanced features you needed an off-camera shoe and cord, neither of which were cheap (naturally!), and also some form of independant pistol grip too, which were fairly thin on the ground.
A better option at the time was one of the Metz hammerhead flashguns (either the 45 or 60 models), which still offered a large degree of compatability and tricks via the SCA adaptors that were available, BUT what you ended up with (either way) was an extremely unwieldy package.
I was genuinely much happier with access to the fast lenses, and even today avoid on-camera flash like the plague, if possible!
The only exception, which I still love for some types of portraiture work is the ring flash, also made by Canon, and capable of being almost idiot-proof, thankfully! :-)

eolake said...

Right, ring-flash! That's one thing I've never tried. Gives a unique shadow-less light.
Real ones are pretty expensive though, I hear.

eolake said...

Mmmm, here's a reasonably-priced variation.