Ages ago my wife browbeat me into buying her one of the original Lepp brackets. It and Buster's share a weakness that I find completely crippling.
My flash rigs are minimally, if at all, adjustable. I find that having a fixed flash-camera-lens geometry greatly simplifies the task of calibrating the setup.
The original Lepp design has much in common with ball heads, which I also have great difficulty using. Lepp I uses a single knob to lock the flash holder, rods, ... on two axes. I gave up on trying to set the thing up repeatably, which is essential for working from a table mapping magnification to aperture.
I was so annoyed with Lepp for sending such a useless overpriced POS to market that I've refused to look at the Lepp II or any of his other products. Please enlighten me, Rich. Does Lepp II use a single knob to lock one or two axes?
To get back on track, Anupam, poverty is no excuse for not shooting calibration shots. I did my first sets while a starving grad student.
Faith in manufacturers' claimed guide numbers is also no excuse for not shooting calibration shots. In my limited experience, most flashes put out 0.5 to 1.0 stops less light than claimed. The only ways to find out what a flash puts out are shooting calibration shots or using a flashmeter. GN arithmetic works well, but gives the right answer only if the real GN is used.
Dan, my excuse wasn't poverty - it was lazyness - I thought I didn't do enough flash photography to justify the hassle. Point taken, though - I will do some thorough testing to get this flash thing down.
Originally Posted by Dan Fromm
I do not remember the Lepp I. The Stroboframe Lepp II is as you mention a mounting surface for the camera, a pair of adjustable rods and 2 small ball heads at the end of the rods which are locked from the bottom as on a monopod or tripod. At times this is a bit to adjust and 4 hands would be better than 2. At the end of the rods nearest the camera mounting the rods can be adjusted on 2 axes- up, down, left, and right as well as 360 degree rotation and the ability to shorten or lengthen the rod distances between the camera and the flash heads. As you tighten the lock you can adjust the tension a bit so that the left and right adjustment is not adjusted as much as the up and down. At the far end of each rod as I mentioned there is a small ball head that is locked into position from the bottom. When released, the ball head bases can be rotated 360 degrees. Each of the tiny ball heads has a stop to keep the flash shoe from sliding out of the shoe. These tiny ball heads can then be adjusted just like any of the larger ball heads.
The Lepp II sounds like it is an improved version of the Lepp I. Adjustments certainly would be easier if first mounted on a tripod. There is a tripod thread on the unit as well. Once the adjustments are made for the camera and lens however, the system does operate well and allows one to use a main and a fill flash set up however.
Additionally, I have an older LL Rue Flash bracket made by Kirk Photo (Enterprises) which is similar to the John Shaw Butterfly Bracket. Kirk Photo and Really Rite Stuff have made improvements on this system and also include Arca type QR plates/system to the unit. For my Rue Bracket, I just added the plates to the existing bracket for mounting the camera and mounting the bracket onto a tripod.
Claire's process is a good way to get you pretty close claibrations and fairly easy. I was fortunate enough to get a densitometer a couple of years ago and now use it to get reasonably accurate calibrations of my exposures. I have also used my darkroom color analyzer to get good relative readings -- which is really the same as described in Claire's message. To add to this... since you have an enlarger, you can pick up a pretty good color analyzer for a few dollars these day (I saw one auction sell three at $5 for the lot) Shoot a roll and get some good numbers to work with.
Originally Posted by Claire Senft
Now, to relate this to the macro subject --
I learned that my variable power flashes are very inaccurate at the lower power settings:
I calibrated my variable power flashes for my macro set up... since I was getting pretty close to the subject, I really needed to crank the power down on my flashes. Let me tell you, I was amazed at how inacurate the dials and settings were in the low power settings. They're consistant, but way off from the control markings. Now that I know what to adjust to, my macro exposure is very predictable.
Summary: for macro work where you need to reduce the flash's power, expect the controls to be very inaccurate... testing really is worth the time.