Metz bounce card for flash portraits?
Metz makes an 8X10 bounce card (60-33 Reflexschirm) for attachment to the 45 and 60 series fashguns. How effective is this in softening and diffusing the light from the flash at distances of 4 to 10 feet for hand-held candid portraits?
In addition I note that there is a secondary flash tube for filling in small shadows on some Metz flashguns, adding a catch light to the eyes when bouncing the main flash from the ceiling (or the bounce card?).
How much softer is this Metz solution that straight flash?
Thanks in advance for any insights.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
I have one of those bounce cards for my 60CT-2. As Bob Salomon says in the LF thread, those cards need a bit of gaffer tape to hold them in place securely. They do work well, though they are limited by their size. If there is no ceiling or wall or other thing to bounce off then they are handy. You can get bigger rigs that mount on the camera - it all depends on what you are happy with. You can be quite creative once you have the card holder by making different cards and reflector/diffusers.
The problem I find with the small direct secondary flash units is that they can overpower the bounced light, even when on the low power setting. I have an ND+CTO filter permanently taped over the ones on the flash guns I have that have them (contorted explanation). If you are using something like the bounce card, the source is close enough to the lens axis that the secondary flash isn't required, as far as I'm concerned.
If you are bouncing off the ceiling then I prefer a small card, or my fingers (an old trick), behind the main upwards-pointing head to bounce just a touch of light straight ahead. If you are bouncing off the wall behind you then you probably don't need the secondary flash either.
The softening effectiveness of any reflector or diffuser can be assessed by imagining or observing the apparent size of the light source from the subject's position. Dark Ray-Bans are useful.
Thanks for the helpful replies.
I should add that I use a 4X5 film camera, and rarely shoot any wider than f16. I usually light location portraits with a Plume Wafer Hexoval softbox on my 1200ws Broncolor Mobil kit, bouncing the light from the second head off a wall or ceiling for fill. The results really do look like soft window light.
There are times when I have to shoot quickly with a hand-held outfit (my 4X5 Linhof Technika has rangefinder focusing). On camera flash has to be powerful, and I often use flashbulbs, but the light is too harsh for candid portraits at relatively close range.
Most on-camera flashes don't have enough power for bounce flash at f16, hence my interest in using the Metz 45 with a bounce card at close ranges (4 to 10 feet).
Another option would be to use a 400ws Quantum Q-flash on-camera with a 12X16" Chimera softbox for close range candids. There is even a Plume Wafer SL (11X22") which could be attached directly to a Q-flash.
Yet another option would be to use a Broncolor ringflash on camera (yes, it does work on a hand-held 4X5), but this gives a certain look...
I have one of those bounce cards but as already mentioned they are not great for windy days. I prefer the Sto-fen filters for diffusing light:
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I agree with Helen's comments. I've used the bounce card with an old Vivitar 283, and the Lumiquest bouncer with a Nikon SB16. Both gave limited softening, and were quite bulky to carry around (admittedly not an issue if you are already working with a Tech V!). The Lumiquest 8020 does work better if you have a low, white ceiling, as it bounces 80% of the light off the card to fill the shadows, and 20% off the ceiling.
Originally Posted by Gary Holliday
My SB16 has the same auxiliary flash for fill, and like Helen, I found it too bright. I taped black electrical tape over it.
But the Stofen is my latest favorite. It works much better than I expected, and is much more compact than any of the bounce cards.
Helen's comments are right on in my point of view! I haven't seen many folks using their fingers as she recommends, but it certainly works for me. I used a Heighland (sp?) strobe V for many years because it had a shallow dish reflector approximately 6 inches in diameter and extremely light weight. Very easy to hold in one hand and modify your light direction a bit using your fingers.
Another item I'll mention as food for thought is long gone today from the picture making scene. It was called a Reflectasol bounce bracket, a device made by Larson Enterprizes. It was an extension bracket that fit most any camera from 4x5 down to 35mm using the 1/4 x 20 tripod mount. It featured an arm with a bracket to hold a small strobe (like the V) with a small 15 inches or so flat reflectasol. The flat Reflectasol had a bright silver surface backed by a matte white. this device mated to the extending adjustable arm with a 3/8 inch aluminum rod held in place by a large wing nut. With the device mounted on the camera you could adjust the distance from the strobe light to the reflector surface and the angle of the bounce. A neat thing was you could use any of Larson's flat folding Reflectasol's. You could have a bounce surface anywhere from 15 inches to 42 inches. Using the white side gave a very usable softened light. This Reflectasol was very light in weight fit on your hand held or tripod mounted camera and was easily adjustable.
I mention this old Reflectasol device only because it worked very well, and a similar device could be easily fabricated and used for fill lighting today.
I did purchase a Metz 45 for my 4X5 camera and I am pleased with the results.
Candid close environmental portraits with a wide-angle lens are softly lit by bouncing the main light off the ceiling and using the direct secondary light for fill. The auto exposures are all consistantly bang-on.
At f16 with 400 ISO film the Metz 45 has just enough power for bounce flash.
I have used one of these Metz bounce units for a long time, and they produce nice soft light for portraits at the sort of distances you would shoot them at without too much light loss, another big advantage over bouncing the light off the ceiling when shooting colour portraits is, you avoid your subject having a green face if the room has a green ceiling,( parasitic reflection) as I once found to my cost.
Drawbacks, can be a bit cumbersome, quite expensive.