Home Buyer's Guide Flash & Lighting 2012
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Flash & Flash Accessories

Third-party speedlights, accessories and light modifiers create a highly portable and affordable lighting system that you can take anywhere

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SIGMA
Another good choice is the Sigma EF610 DG Super, which offers full-feature compatibility with most popular DSLRs. With the built-in Wide Panel, the flash can cover angles as wide as 17mm. The head tilts up 90°, to the left 180° or to the right 90°. It also tilts down 7° when doing close-up photography. Additional features include TTL wireless flash, FP (high-speed) flash, rear-curtain Synchro flash and a manual flash mode that allows the flash power level to be set by up to eight stops. The Auto Power-Off function automatically shuts off the LCD panel to help save battery power. Estimated Street Price: $255.

SUNPAK
As a starter flash or for use in a multi-flash setup, the Sunpak PZ42X is a solid option. The flash can be moved 90° upward, 180° to the left and 120° to the right, flexibly supporting bounce shooting. Other features include automatic zoom from 24-105mm, a built-in wide-angle diffuser and AF assist. The PZ42X offers a bright, easy-to-read LCD display and easy-to-use controls for manual flash output. It's compatible with Canon E-TTL II, Nikon i-TTL and Sony ADI systems. Estimated Street Price: $147.

LIGHT MODIFIERS

Thanks to a growing array of light-shaping devices designed to fit over a shoe-mount flash, there are countless ways to change light. Snoots make concentrated spots of light. Grids control spill light. Barndoors confine or spread light and control spill. Softboxes soften light, diffusers spread it, and filters and gels can change its color. Attaching a reflector to a flash head redirects some of the light when bouncing it off the ceiling so your subject is lit from two directions. With just a flash and a few modifiers, you can create a lighting system that dramatically improves your photography and goes anywhere.

EXPOIMAGING
Capable of producing three different honeycomb grid angles, the ExpoImaging Rogue Grid can shape the size of the spotlight projected forward from 45° and 25°, and can be stacked to create a 16° angle. Smaller-degree grids produce smaller spots and larger angles produce larger spots. Changing angles and adding lighting gels is easy because of the grid's modular design that weighs just 3.5 ounces. Also handy are the Rogue FlashBenders, which can serve as a bounce card, snoot, reflector and general light-shaper. Estimated Street Price: $49 (Grid); Varies (FlashBenders).

GARY FONG
For diffusing light, the Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible attaches to a flash without a strap or band, and is offered in a kit that includes additional light-shaping tools. The basic version includes White Dome, AmberDome and ChromeDome accessories that fit over the diffuser for warming up light or increasing output. It also comes with gels for adding color. The pro version adds a chrome-plated PowerSnoot with a grid for creating more dramatic effects. For Micro Four Thirds cameras, the Puffer Pop-Up Flash Diffuser softens the often harsh light produced by their built-in flash units. It attaches to the hot-shoe and hangs in front of the flash. Estimated Street Price: $119 to $169 (kits); $21 (Puffer).

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