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  1. #1

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    Handheld off camera flash

    Hi,

    I saw a video on youtube of a photographer using a handheld off camera flash on the street.
    I was wondering about the possibilities. Certainly for night stuff.
    But I must say first, I don't know a lot about flash. I've only used the in camera flashes of camera's up until now. And well since it's very ugly most of the time I tend to use it very seldom.
    Since I don't know a lot about flash, I don't know how it can be done. And how much it would cost.
    So what I am asking is for a kit that is compact and light without costing too much and to be universal (so not proprietary for one camera)

    The camera's I'd use it with are also very compact camera's.
    Those small Rangefinders like Olympus XA (although not possible I think?) Olympus 35RD, Canon ql17 gIII, Yashica GX, etc.

    Thanks ahead,

  2. #2
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    There are a variety of Nikon speed lights and I'm sure other brands that have adjustable settings and sensors that allow very nice control of the flash. These can typically be used with most cameras that have a normal hot shoe or pc plug with an cord. The cords are availble off eBay and other places.

    The "ugly" look is typically just poor use of the tools or older flash units without the built in sensor and auto control.

    The ugly stuff comes IMO mostly in two ways, 1- when too much flash is used so that there is to big a difference in luminance between subject and background and 2- when the shot printed too light.

    It takes some practice but but done well it can make big improvements in many shots.

    Get the book by Joe McNally "Hot Shoe Diaries".
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." AnaÔs Nin

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    The "ugly" look is typically just poor use of the tools or older flash units without the built in sensor and auto control.

    The ugly stuff comes IMO mostly in two ways, 1- when too much flash is used so that there is to big a difference in luminance between subject and background and 2- when the shot printed too light.
    I think a lot of the 'ugliness' stems from the fact that the flash on a camera is a) very small and thus gives you very hard, contrasty light and b) the flash (usually) is on-axis with the lens, moving the flash off camera gives you directional light and more depth to your photo.
    "Art is is a picture of some dude I never met smoking under a lamppost at 6400 ISO and in BW."

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by MaŽl View Post
    Hi,

    I saw a video on youtube of a photographer using a handheld off camera flash on the street.
    I was wondering about the possibilities. Certainly for night stuff.
    But I must say first, I don't know a lot about flash. I've only used the in camera flashes of camera's up until now. And well since it's very ugly most of the time I tend to use it very seldom.
    Since I don't know a lot about flash, I don't know how it can be done. And how much it would cost.
    So what I am asking is for a kit that is compact and light without costing too much and to be universal (so not proprietary for one camera)

    The camera's I'd use it with are also very compact camera's.
    Those small Rangefinders like Olympus XA (although not possible I think?) Olympus 35RD, Canon ql17 gIII, Yashica GX, etc.

    Thanks ahead,
    On all your cameras except the XA you can attach an adapter to the hot shoe and attach a sync cord to that. I haven't figure out how best to use external flash on the XA yet. Flash is the weak point of the XA which is otherwise a very nice camera.

  5. #5

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    Waow.

    I love these forums!

    On the ugly side of flash. It is probably indeed because of the in-camera flash which I mentioned. Which is on the same axis as the camera. Plus it most of the time overpowers indeed.
    I must say I'm not a fan either of the "perfect" looking flash photo's, like you see often with wedding photographs.

    I was really impressed by the photographer I saw in the video. That's why I want to start flashing too .
    So if I understand well what I need:

    An unexpensive flash ( will any flash do? or? Maybe someone can suggest a couple to look for?)

    Hotshoe trigger and receiver ( Any suggestions?)

    A synchcord (unless, wireless system)

    A camera with hot shoe.

  6. #6
    M Carter's Avatar
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    Back in the day, i was often very impressed by the workhorse Vivitar 285 (the 283's have a much higher synch voltage - and the brand-new 285's are 285's in name only...).

    There's some computing and wheel-turning (it's not TTL) but is a pretty effective auto flash once you get second-nature with it. I did some really cool industrial work with that unit and slow shutter speeds.

    I've done the "event" thing maybe 5 times in 15 years, usually for existing clients and last-minute. if I were doing that full time, I'm sure by now I'd have rigged up a "softbox hat" or some kind of china ball hanging over my head on a stick!

    But seriously, I've once or twice seen guys with an assistant off to the side, holding and aiming a flash & following them around.

  7. #7

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    My favorite brand flash is Sunpak. They sell 'potato masher' flashes but they are expensive. Instead I would go for one of their shoe flashes, which are packed w/ features like power ratio and bounce card. The one thing they don't have is the sensor on the camera. Of the cameras you have aside from the XA which is a beautiful outfit for what it was designed for. None of your cameras will do TTL but this is the next best thing. I would go for a Vivitar 283 of 285.
    Each of these flashes have a cable accessory that will allow you to separate the sensor from the flash and mount the sensor on the hot shoe of the camera.

    Francis in VT

  8. #8

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    My favorite potato mashers are the wonderful old Canon 577G (with battery pack of course) or the lighter 533G which does not have and external battery. My Metz collection is only the 60CT-1 with it's wonderful battery pack (which you can still get new dry cells for). If you want lighter with Metz the 45 model has batteries in the handle.........when I go "out" with the battery pack, oh yes, I get looks, then stares, then usually someone comes up and asks if it is an attached hard drive or computer........

    These are good old, solid, world class old school flashes that will not cost you an arm and a leg but are getting harder to find. The big Sunpac would also be wonderful, they too are getting hard to find but not impossible. The big auction site will have the Metz flashes, as I recall, B&H will have the replacement dry cell battery.

    With power like you have never enjoyed before, be prepared to go out and touch somebody a long way out. And yes, I had the 285 and the older 283 with the 3 foot cable......good with an assistant to step to your side, but solo wasn't alot of fun holding and working a MF camera....

    Bob E.
    Nikon F5, Nikon F4S, Nikon FA, Nikon FE, Nikon N90, Nikon N80, Nikon N75, Mamiya 645 Pro, Mamiya Press Super 23, Yashica Lynx 14e, Yashica Electro GSN, Yashica 124G, Yashica D

  9. #9
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Being on the same axis is not by itself a problem. Many studio setups use strobes on the camera axis. There are even shoot through lights likes ring lights or a moon unit.

    Size can be a real issue but if all you want to add is a gentle flick of light on a subjects face just to help reduce the shadows a bit it can work just fine right on the hot shoe. There are lots of ways to increase the size too.

    A great inexpensive camera for this is a Nikon N90s, up from that an F100 or F5.

    A great strobe for these cameras is an SB90dx has the tilt and swivel head too. That's not the only good choice though.

    F/2.8 or faster lens will also help, gives you more choices.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." AnaÔs Nin

  10. #10
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    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." AnaÔs Nin

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