BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Archive for the ‘Flash Photography’ Category

Gear to Own: Litepanels Micro

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Good lighting equipment is fundamental to photography and there’s a variety of gear to choose from. One of the nicest pieces of equipment I’ve seen is the Litepanels Micro light.
Suited for both video and still photography – especially handy if you have a Nikon D90 or a Canon 5D Mark II – the Micro light is a constant output light source that can be mounted on the camera’s hot shoe or on a stand. It’s small, weighing in just under 4 ounces, and is perfect for filling in shadows and adding light to eyes. This is a perfect setup for portrait work.

The Micro has a dimmer switch that allows the user to dim the light from 100% down to 0, and is flicker- and heat free. The Micro operates on 4 AA batteries and can produce an estimated 1.5 hours of continual output on one set of regular alkaline batteries. Power can also be supplied through a 5-12V input jack.

The unit has won PC Photo magazine’s Editors’ Choice award and Digital Content Producer’s Pick Hit 08.

The street value is around $300 US, which is a little less than you would pay for a shoe mount flash.

Why You Need A Shoe-Mount Flash

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The majority of people who visit this Website are amateur photographers, photo hobbyists and students interested in pursuing photography as a future career. With that audience in mind, I try to bring articles with general appeal.

One of the main questions I get asked is about flash photography or using artificial light sources to make images. For lack of a better word, those who write me are “afraid” to use artificial – or flash – lighting because they don’t understand it and they often have taken photos with flash and had bad results. With that in mind, I am going to begin a section on flash lighting. Look for more posts to come in the near future.

With an external flash, you can direct where you want the light to go - or where you don't want it to go. Hard lighting from the side gives this image a unique look. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Schneider)

With an external flash, you can direct where you want the light to go - or where you don't want it to go. Hard lighting from the side gives this image a unique look. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Schneider)

External flash units are beneficial for numerous reasons. First and probably the most important, they allow you to become more creative in lighting. You can play around with the light and get more interesting – and more professional looking – results. Secondly, they allow you to shoot in low-light conditions. Finally, they reduce the limits on your photography. You’re no longer a slave to the sun. No lighting? No problem, you’ve got a flash.

One problem you may be having is simple: you’re using the built-in flash on your camera. You probably have a popup flash on your DSLR and have used it as your main source of strobe lighting. That’s a mistake. While good for fill light, a popup flash is often too narrow. Many times, you’ll see washed out colors in close up subjects or huge cast shadows, which are equally unappealing.
If your camera has a hot shoe mount on top, which if you’re using a DSLR, it does, you are able to attach what’s called a shoe-mount flash.

Although there are great third-party flash units (Metz comes to mind), I recommend purchasing a brand-specific flash because it syncs with all the features the manufacturer has developed.

For Nikon users, I recommend starting out with the SB-600 AF Speelight unit. It’s a great flash to begin with. Canon users should start with the Speedlite 430EX II and for Olympus users, the FL-50R is the right choice.

In future postings, we will discuss various techniques you can use with your shoe-mount flash that will help your photos look better.

Good luck and keep shooting!