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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Flash Facts – Controlling Flash Exposure.

When using flash your aperture is going to control how much light from the flash enters the camera. The shutter speed is going to control how much ambient light enters the camera.

Once you have a feel for how these two variables are going to affect your shot you will then be able to make adjustments from the camera to control your flash and ambient light exposure.

Making adjustments to the aperture to control how much of the flash light enters the camera is also going to affect your depth of field. If you are not too concerned with your depth of filed then you can make adjustments solely for your flash. However if you do care about your depth of field, as you really should, making adjustments via the aperture is not gong to be the best option for you.

When you have to keep a specific depth of field for your shot you will need to work more with the power level of the flash or the distance of flash to subject. Using these variables for adjustment will keep your depth of field wherever you had it set.

Try setting up a static shot of just about anything around the house and throw a flash on it. Walk your aperture up and down and see how you can control both your flash exposure and your depth of field.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ojec-co H550 Transceiver

The H550 from Ojec-co is a new entry to the flash trigger market. The unit is a transceiver so that it can function both as a transmitter or a receiver. It operates on the 2.4Ghz frequency, and supports many functions like TTL pass through, wireless or wired shutter triggering, and high speed sync triggering. For power the H550 uses AAA batteries.

These units are offered as a set of two or as singles. The H550s ship with a stand that looks just like the one that ships with a Nikon SU900, a flash sync cable, a 3.5mm to 6.5mm adapter, and a set of AAA batteries. I am not sure what the main production line is going to ship with, but it will more than likely be along the same lines.

On the top of the unit you have the shoe mount, a set of four dip switches, trigger button, high speed sync status indicator, group indicator lights, group selection button and the status indicator light.

The left side of the transceiver has the power/function switch, camera shutter socket, flash socket, and a hole for a strap.

On the right side you are able to see the group indicator lights, the high speed sync status light and you have the High speed sync dial.

I have received a set of the Nikon transceivers and a single Canon transceiver from the first production run. Normally the first production run have some sort of issues. That is not from a design flaw but normally from the idiosyncrasies of manufacturing.

There are two different H550 units: Nikon and Canon. One great feature is the fact that you can use either model to trigger one another. The only difference between the Nikon and Canon units are the terminal connection on the shoes. If you are using them as just simple dumb triggers then it does not matter which units you have, they are interchangeable in this fashion. I think that is a pretty good feature.

Here is a list of the H550's specifications.

Radio frequency: 2.4GHZ
Signalling: Frequency Shift Keying (FSK)
Antenna: Built-in PCB Antenna
Controlling Distance: 150m
Channels: 16
Flash groups: 3 groups, 7 different group combinations
Normal triggering sync-speed: 1/250 second
High sync-speed: Up to highest shutter speed of camera - 1/8000 second
Continuous trigger frequency: >20 frames / second
Battery type: 2x AAA (2.4V~-3.2V)
Standby time: 200 hours
Camera shutter interface: Ø2.5mm
Studio flash interface: Ø 2.5mm
Lets look at the functions of the H550. As a trigger they work fantastic. I have not had a single misfire when I use them. The distance is rated at 150 meters. I have not gone out for an official test, but I have not had any issues with the function over distance.

The sixteen channels to choose from are more than enough to shoot in a large group of other photographers and not have any channel crossing problems.

There are three groups with seven different combinations to choose from. I do not shoot using groups so this function is lost on me.

In continuous shooting mode I found the receivers on my flash units to keep up with out any lag time.

One of the features that I like having is the ability to wake up sleeping flashes without it taking a frame

The high speed sync feature is a bit problematic at best. The theory is very simple: You connect the trigger to the camera hot shoe. You then connect the trigger to the camera via a shutter release cable. When you have everything connected you then change the function switch to camera and fire your shutter at a speed faster than it's sync speed. The H550 will then learn how to sync faster from your camera. As it turns out this really only works with Canon cameras and not Nikon. With Nikon's cameras you have to also set up another trigger as a remote shutter release. With this limitation the high speed sync option for Nikon's is not really practical and overall disappointing.

I do hope that this flaw with the Nikon high speed sync is something that can be corrected before the main production run of H550s are manufactured. Overall this is the only main feature that I am disappointed with. Other wise these are pretty good transceivers.

One feature that can be easily overlooked as a Nikon shooter is the TTL pass through. When you are shooting with Nikon cameras and flashes you have access to a very cool lighting system. The Nikon CLS is a fantastic control system and with triggers that support TTL pass through you are able to add even more options into the mix. I do like having the ability to remotely control my Nikon flashes via my Nikon SU800 and with the H550 in line between the camera and the SU800. I also have as many manual flashes in the mix. One scenario where this works very well in when you want to have fixed light sources in your environment like on your background. You then can use the SU800 to control your varying flashes where you might have to make adjustments like in key lights when you have multiple subjects.

On a physical critique the material is on the boarder of being too light weight. I put it right on the cusp. The hot shoe on the top of the unit has some good and some bad. The good is the fact that it has a hole for the locking pin on Nikon flashes. The bad is that the shoes are a bit on the loose side. If you have a Nikon SB600 mounted on top it is going to wiggle around to the point where I think it is either going to break off or the flash is going to fall. When you have a Nikon SB900 mounted on top it is far less loose, but still not the most stable mounting. Now, if you mount a Lumopro LP160 on the H550 it is pretty stable. Part of why the LP160 is more stable on the H550 is due to the weight and profile of the flash. The Lumopro LP160 weighs less than the Nikon SB900 and has a lower profile.

I like the triggers design and build. I am disappointed by the high speed sync problems with the Nikon cameras, but I am sure that is something that is going to be corrected. The Ojec-co H550 transceiver has a very capable TTL pass through trigger with room to grow. These units definitely have more going for them than they do against them. For Nikon shooters the ability to integrate the H550 into your CLS set up is great for versatility. If you are a Canon shooter then you will not have the high speed sync issues and so the H550 will look even more attractive.

Friday, September 23, 2011

LumoPro LP160 – Seamless integration

The more I use the Lumopro LP160 the more I love it. Recently I have been using it as a slave unit with my Nikon flashes. It has worked seamlessly when using the digital optical slave function. With this function selected the flash will ignore the TTL pre-flash and wait for the actual flash for it to fire. Between the S (optical slave made) and the Si (optical slave mode that ignores the TTL pre-flash) it is nearly effortless to add in the LP160 as a manual flash into your shot for added depth of lighting.

With all of its triggering options there is little need for additional triggers. All you need is a single set and the optical modes of the LumoPro LP160 and they fire right along with your other flashes.

I have also been using the digital optical slave function when using my SU-800as the commander of my Nikon flashes in manual mode. When shooting with this type of set up I can control the Nikon flashes from the camera position via the Nikon SU800 and have the LP160 fire with the Nikon's

If you wanted to have remote control of the LP160's power I would suggest that you look into the Jrx series by Radiopopper. I have not used these triggers as of yet but from what I have read and heard they should not have a problem controlling the LumoPro LP160's flash output.

I cannot express how happy I am with this flash unit and how much I recommend it to anyone looking for another flash in their kit.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Nikon 1 System

MELVILLE, N.Y. (Sept 21, 2011) – Nikon Inc. today announced a revolutionary new digital imaging system built from the ground up to empower users with new ways to tell stories through photography, driven by imaginative next-generation technology. The iconic new Nikon 1 system is designed to become one with the user and their lifestyle, providing a unique form of expression with amazing image quality, speed and portability.

From Nikon, a company with more than 75 years in imaging excellence, the Nikon 1 J1 is an advanced camera with interchangeable lenses that opens the door to a fresh way to capture pictures and High Definition (HD) movies. This Nikon 1 system represents a new category of camera that challenges conventional thinking, emphasizing a pocketable form factor with unbelievable speed, combined with the high image quality that only Nikon could create. Thanks to a wealth of innovative technologies, the Nikon J1 camera is a simple to use conduit for creativity, seemingly anticipating a consumer’s needs in any situation. Moments are instantly captured using amazingly fast new hybrid Autofocus (AF), and blazing fast speed with continuous AF. Users can also shoot with confidence knowing that the Smart Photo Selector will automatically capture the best possible image without a second thought. Furthermore, just a touch of the shutter button instantly captures a high quality image while simultaneously recording Full HD 1080p movies, and the exciting new Motion Snapshot mode captures fleeting moments like never before with a combination of moving and still images, bringing memories to life. To accompany this exciting new form factor, Nikon created the entirely new 1 NIKKOR lens system that seamlessly integrates powerful precision optics into a camera platform to capture more of the world around the user.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rogue Gels by Expoimaging

The new Rogue Gels come in two different versions. The first is the Rogue Gel's Universal Lighting Filter Kit and the second is the lighting filter gel kit for the Rogue Grid. Both kits come with 20 gels for a wide variety. The two sets offer the same color choices and options, but two different mounting methods.

The Universal Lighting Filter Kit is just what it sounds like: universal. This gel kit has a Gel-Band that attaches around the flash, along the lines of a custom shaped rubber band. You then take the tabs of the gels and tuck them into the side of the Gel-Band.

The gels are cut so that you can leave a bit of space between the head of the flash and the gels. The Gel-Band is a very secure fastener, it is not going to ever fall off of your flash, and the gels are held tightly and not going anywhere.

That being said, I do wish that the Gel-Band was similar to the Rogue Tension Strap found on the Honeycomb Grid. The way that the Tension Strap mounts is great and with a very small modification I am sure that it could be converted into a gel holder. But I am sure that would raise the cost significantly so it is all a matter of trade off.

The Rogue Gels lighting filter kit for the Rogue Grid is perfect in its integration with the grid. You place the gel between the bezel and the honeycomb. The two pieces line up via the grooves on the bezel and the honeycombs. It is super easy to put together and the gels cannot go anywhere because of the grids design.

In the spirit of keeping this “fresh” and trying new techniques, I decided to use these gel kits to enhance the natural tones of the location and the model. By putting a gel on my flash unit mounted in a Westcott 28” Apollo I filtered the light bringing it to a nice warm tone that complimented the model and the tones of the location.

Another technique that I tried was placing an amber gel on a flash and then bouncing the colored flash off of the wall bringing in again some warmer tones to the shot.

These two gel kits are fully capable of dealing with not only color correction but also with dramatic lighting situations. They are a truly comprehensive gel set. With 20 gels in each of these kits you have a wide range of colors to blend in or change altogether. I tried mainly to enhance the colors present instead of completely changing what was there, but these make it easy to accomplish either task.

One of the things that I love about the Rogue line is that they are small modifiers that have big results.

I always make sure to have these modifiers in my kit, every shoot. Their sublimity has a huge impact on the shot, and I love having them as an option providing so many different possibilities.

At the end of the day I find both the Rogue Universal Filter kit and the Rogue Gels lighting filter kit for the Rogue Grid just as versatile as the other light modifiers in the Rogue series. I believe Expoimaging has created a very well designed line of flash modifiers that every photographer should try.

Happy Birthday Miranda!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Print of the week - Watcher in the Woods

The selected print of the week is available for purchase in many different mediums over at www.redbubble.com. Click on the photo and check out your ordering options.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Think Tanks modular system “20% Off”

Think Tanks modular system “20% Off” blow-out sale continues. And they’re ramping it up.

They’ve added to the free items you can select from when you’re checking out.

In addition to the Pixel Pocket Rocket, Cable Management 10, and Security tag, you now can also select a LARGE Lens Drop In, RU Thirsty, Whip it Out, Skin 50, Skin 75 Pop Down, Skin Double Wide, Skin Strobe, or a Skin Chimp Cage.

Here is the link you can follow to Think Tanks page and check this sale out at.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ray Flash - First impressions

I received a Ray Flash unit today and after shooting with it around the house for a bit I am more than impressed with it.

At first I thought that it might be a bit top heavy, but once I had it mounted it was just fine. The feel of this unit on camera is far more balanced that the Orbis ring flash.

I am not going to get into the Ray Flash vs. the Orbis until I write my full review

I will be writing a more comprehensive review of the Rayflash, but I wanted to get my first impression out there.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Is the frio the greatest thing since sliced bread?

If the frio cold shoe mount is not the greatest thing since sliced bread it is pretty damn close! Even to Dave's Killer Bread.

Sometimes it is the tiny little simple things that can make a great difference. When I first heard of these little guys I did not think that they would be that big of deal. As soon as I started using them - boy howdy was I wrong!

After I put the frio onto my travel stand I felt a level of security that I did not have with the generic cold shoe mounts that I had been using. On two occasions those same generic mounts failed to hold my Nikon SB900 in place and it fell right off if the stand.

At this point I no longer worry about any of my frio mounted flashes going anywhere. They have a metal 1/4 - 20 female thread on the underside for a stand mount. On the top there is a locking clip that holds the flash unit in place and that clip has to be pushed down in order to remove the mounted flash.

One other fantastic detail is a hole for a Nikon locking pin. These details keep your flash units where they need to be without any worry so you can concentrate on getting the shot.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Setting up the shot - Geek in the City

Camera - Nikon D300
Lens - Nikon 50mm f/1.8
Exposure - 1/125 @ f/8
Focal Length - 50mm

Lighting - Nikon SB900
Light Modifier(s) - 28" Westcott Apollo
Trigger - Cactus V4

This shot was an outtake from an awards poster of Aaron Duran and Scott Dally for Geek in the City Radio.

We took this shot in one of the production rooms at CBS radio before they sold the company into unpleasantness.

I used an Alienbees strobe shooting into a Westcott 28" Apollo. I placed the light to camera left and slightly behind Aaron, so I could feather the light onto his face, and keep most of the shadow on the opposite side.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Print of the week - At Rest

The selected print of the week is available for purchase in many different mediums over at www.redbubble.com. Click on the photo and check out your ordering options.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Setting up the shot - Embrace

Camera - Canon EOS-1D Mark IIn
Lens - Sigma 70-200mm f.2.8
Exposure - 1/320 @ f/13
Focal Length - 87mm

Lighting - Alienbees ABR800
Light Modifier(s) - 60" Westcott bounce umbrella.
Trigger - Alienbees: Radio Remote One

This shot was set up with a black background in a living room area at a long stay hotel.

With this shot I used an Alienbees abr800 ring flash shot into a Westcott 60" bounce umbrella.

The light was slightly above and to camera right. I focused the light on to Bobby's eye and let the light feather onto Kylene.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Zoom vs. Prime

In case you missed it I lost my favorite zoom lens to a massive fall earlier this week. Now I am stuck in the age old debate of Zoom vs. Prime.

I have found that I go to my 50mm in a lot of controlled shooting situations, but I have also fell back on my old 28-70mm as a sort of catch all lens.

Both sides of this debate have very compelling reasoning to them. So lets hear what all of you have to say about the matter. You can leave a comment here or feel free to email me at info@vanishedtwin.com and let me know where you stand and why.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Orbis ringflash Review

If you Google “Orbis ringflash review” you will get about 32,900 results. Needless to say there have been many reviews done on the Orbis Ringflash, so I am going to try to do something a little bit different. I am going to write about how I used the ringflash out on location, and how it worked with both TTL and manual metering.

I would like to start out with a few thoughts on the physical make up of the Orbis, and how it is mounted. The flash mount that holds the flash inside the Orbis is flat out amazing. I mounted three different flash units into the Orbis and all three of them stayed in place and I did not worry for a second about them slipping out. The Orbis flash mount was able to hold my Nikon SB600, SB900 and my Lumopro LP160 flawlessly.

The first time I saw the Orbis demonstrated it was being hand held up to the camera. When I tried shooting like this I had a bit of a shaky hand shooting so I then ended up mounting the flash on a stand. I have seen a few different DIY methods to solve this problem, and in the end Orbis came out with a mounting bracket that works like a dream. It is called the Orbis Arm
and in my opinion purchasing the mounting bracket is the best way to go right off the bat.

If you have ever used a conventional ringflash then you are in for a huge surprise. The Orbis is nothing like other ring flashes. It will give you the same light for the most part, but in a small easy to handle package.

The units weight is just a fraction of conventional ringflashes and does not require a power pack beyond your flash unit. For some people the TTL option is going to be a deal maker, but I must admit having the option of TTL or manual is always a great choice to have.

Beyond the ringflash's traditional lighting look the Orbis works just as well for an off camera main light or fill light. I have talked to a few different photographers that have the Orbis in their regular light kits and many of them also use it as a great on axis fill light.

The Orbis ringflash is a very capable light modifier that can be used for far more than just a ringflash. When I took it out for a location shoot I ended up using it off camera most of the time. This allowed me far more effective blending of daylight and flash.

The Orbis is easy to transport and has an all but instantaneous set up time. With the Orbis on a lightweight stand outside in the breeze the set up was very stable and I did not have to worry about the wind taking it away as it would have done with an umbrella.

My overall opinion of the Orbis ringflash is that it is a very well designed and built flash modifier that is capable of far more than just it's initial intent. If you are in the market for a light weight ring flash that is versatile enough to work as other types of light sources then you should take a good hard look at the Orbis ring flash. I don't think you'll be disappointed.