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Thread: Tax returns and off camera lighting

  1. #1
    Senior Member Rocco's Avatar
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    Tax returns and off camera lighting

    With tax season comes camera gear. This year it will come in the form of a new laptop with workstation discrete graphics and an IPS panel display, as well as PW TT5's, a TT1 with AC3 controller, two more flashes, and light modifiers/stands. (If you didn't read the thread, my new year's resolution was to become a proficient strobist.)

    I have a question about the flashes for you strobists on here (Sean, you listening?!). I have a 430ex II right now. The two flashes I have on the handy little spreadsheet I made (that already has all my tax returns spent by my count) are 580ex II's as well as the CP-E4 battery packs. Other than the loss of the battery packs and weather sealing, is there anything else that I would lose by getting two more 430's instead? I've read a little about the guide numbers, but it means almost nothing to me. How much of a power difference are we really talking here?

    As far as light modifiers go, I'm looking primarily at Wescott products with Manfroto lightstands/umbrella swivels.
    *Wescott 60" Optical White Satin umbrella with black cover
    *Wescott Compact 43" White Satin umbrella with black cover
    *Wescott Apollo Orb Speedlight Kit
    *Rogue Flash Bender - Large

    Anything you would suggest I get instead as far as modifiers go? Or is this a pretty sound set-up for a budding strobist?

    And before someone mentions it, I'm sticking with Canon here so I can retain eTTL functionality.. as it does have it's uses.

    Thanks guys!

    -Rocco
    Last edited by Rocco; 01-07-2012 at 05:00 AM. Reason: Grammar
    Adobe, give us courage to edit what photos must be altered, serenity to delete what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.
    Canon EOS 7D - Canon EF-s 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM - Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro - PCB Einsteins & PW Triggers

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    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    I'm currently in a bar enjoying liquid refreshment; however, I will come back to this when I'm on my desktop. ;-)

  3. #3
    Senior Member Rocco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Setters View Post
    I'm currently in a bar enjoying liquid refreshment; however, I will come back to this when I'm on my desktop. ;-)
    HAHA! You would have an eye on the forum while drinking. Love it.
    Adobe, give us courage to edit what photos must be altered, serenity to delete what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.
    Canon EOS 7D - Canon EF-s 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM - Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro - PCB Einsteins & PW Triggers

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    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    Ok, back home.

    First, let's start with a couple of questions whose answers will shape my advice -- for what uses do you imagine using the gear for most (for what purposes or specific circumstances do you currently imagine yourself using the gear)? Also, what is the frequency that you believe you will be using the gear? You say you're wanting to dive in to strobism more, so will you be using this gear every day or every weekend?
    Last edited by Sean Setters; 01-07-2012 at 05:55 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Rocco's Avatar
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    Ah ha. Knew I forgot something.

    I go shooting 3-4 times a week, to work on portraits, or lighting.. whatever, it will probably be the same once I dive in. Mostly a single subject (person). I've developed a love for head shots, but do some full body stuff as well. I really dig some of the cinematic-type lighting I see out there, i.e. underexposed daytime background with "properly" exposed subject. I don't do many group shots. Also, I have a buddy who owns a graphic design/ marketing company and he approached me about doing some shooting for him of both people and products.
    Adobe, give us courage to edit what photos must be altered, serenity to delete what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.
    Canon EOS 7D - Canon EF-s 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM - Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro - PCB Einsteins & PW Triggers

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    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    Why is ETTL so important to you?

    By the way, I'm going to bed...so I'll come back to this tomorrow.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Rocco's Avatar
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    Just so that if I want to dim a daylight scene, I can get correct exposure AND have control of my aperture via HSS as I really don't want to be going above f/11 anyway. (thinking about getting creative with my 85mm f/1.2 here, max aperture f/16.) Although, I understand that the effective power (duration) of the flash will be diminished by.. some say 2.5 stops? So the lighting will have to be closer to the subject, or pair up flashes in a modifier. (correct?)

    Syl Arena was talking about his method and reasoning and he said something that resonated with me: "I’d rather have the creative freedom to control the ambient with my shutter than to accept the limitations imposed by a sync speed of 1/200."

    Don't worry though, this kid is going to become very familiar with manual control.
    Last edited by Rocco; 01-07-2012 at 06:54 AM.
    Adobe, give us courage to edit what photos must be altered, serenity to delete what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.
    Canon EOS 7D - Canon EF-s 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM - Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro - PCB Einsteins & PW Triggers

  8. #8
    Senior Member jks_photo's Avatar
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    hi Rocco,

    i myself just got into off camera lighting as well. I'm no authority on the subject and the only thing I can contribute to your thread is that you might want to look at the Phottix Odin triggers. They're the ones that I got and they do "work".

    james

  9. #9
    Senior Member Mark Elberson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocco View Post
    Other than the loss
    www.robgalbraith.com says there's about <= 0.5 stops difference between the 430EX II and 580EX II
    Quote Originally Posted by Rocco View Post
    of the battery packs
    That can be a big one if you're shooting all day or with a LOT of full power pops. Most times it won't be a concern though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rocco View Post
    and weather sealing
    While on a FlexTT5 I don't think the weather sealing will apply

    I currently use MiniTT1s with the AC3 controler with FlexTT5s and 430EX IIs. I used to use 580EX IIs but prefer the 430EX IIs because they play much more nicely with the PocketWizard system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocco View Post
    I'm sticking with Canon here so I can retain eTTL functionality
    I like having ETTL in my back pocket but I only use it in a run and gun type situation which makes up about 2% of the time. I never use it for portraiture. I find manual to be much more controlable and predictable. Joe McNally does a pretty fine job with TTL though :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocco View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Setters View Post
    Why is ETTL so important to you?
    Just so that if I want to dim a daylight scene, I can get correct exposure AND have control of my aperture via HSS as I really don't want to be going above f/11 anyway
    Read this blog post by "Strobist" Q&A: Controlling the Sun When Using Flash - A Comparative Guide. It may change how you think about shallow DoF in bright sunlight.

    For me, the ability to change power settings from the camera via the AC3 controller is worth the total ($$$$$) expense of the PocketWizard Flex system. If setting the power at the flash is not as big of a deal then I would highly recommend CyberSyncs from Paul C. Buff. They are moderately priced and highly reliable.
    Last edited by Mark Elberson; 01-07-2012 at 12:27 PM.

  10. #10
    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    Some thoughts...

    I think Mark hit most of the nails on the head. I'll also add that I chose a different way to control depth of field, and that's by upping the power level (with monolights) and using ND filters. With the monos, I have all the power I need to do anything from 1 person to a fairly large group of people, the freedom to choose any aperture I want using ND filters, and the ability to underexpose the ambient while doing so.

    Using monos and an ND filter, I captured this at f/2.2 on a bright, sunlit day:

    Samara &amp; the Willow Tree by budrowilson, on Flickr

    Of course, monolights aren't for everyone; they're generally more time consuming to set up, they require pure sine wave inverters and a large battery source, and they are indeed bulkier to haul around. However, they provide me with the freedom to be as creative as I wish without being incumbered with the limitations of a speedlight's power. There are also more modifiers specifically made for monolights than for speedlights (although a plethera have emerged within the last few years).

    Honestly, I'd suggest getting a couple of used Nikon SB-24s from KEH and shooting only manual for the next three months. This will allow you to [fairly cheaply] figure out whether or not you want to invest solely in shoe-mount flahses while also nailing down your manual control skills. After that, you can decide if the benefits of monolights (more power/more choice in modifiers) offset the drawbacks of increased setup time, bulkier transportation, and external battery requirements.

    As far as the Westcott products go, they all look fine. That said, I just purchased an off-brand Orb the other day. I'm sure the build quality won't be as good as Westcott's, but for as many times as I think I'll use it, I'm sure it'll be fine--especially considering the price. Now I just have to wait about a month for it to arrive from China...

    Also, you may want to look at smaller light modifiers too. When you start down the strobist journey, there's a tendency to go as big as you can with your light modifiers (here's proof of that). However, when it comes to small flashes, I often grab my 15" collapsible softbox. It can be fairly soft depending on how close it is to the subject, but it's more often just a bit punchier--and it's a nice change from the creamy soft gradients afforded us by larger modifiers. There are also plenty of other sizes and cheaper versions on Ebay.

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