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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Flash & Lighting

By Kim Castleberry Published in Flash & Lighting
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Flash & Lighting
For capturing exciting images and well-balanced exposures, a flash is an indispensable tool that can greatly expand the creative possibilities and quality of your photography. Making colors brighter even in daylight, removing shadows from faces, adding catchlight to eyes and opening up the foreground in early-morning and late-evening scenics all become possible when using an accessory flash.

Advanced metering, manual options and a variety of automatic modes offer extended control that goes further than what your camera's built-in flash can typically do. Beyond that, a flash also can extend the range and accuracy of your D-SLR's autofocus system with a built-in AF assist beam that aids focusing in low light. Take note of compatibility, though, because some work properly with only their own systems and, more specifically, some features are only available when used with specific cameras.

For even more control and flexibility, you can change the quality of the light emitted by a flash by bouncing or diffusing it. Using a diffuser over the flash head will soften the light's appearance, reducing harsh shadows and high contrast. Other simple, easy-to-use accessories like portable continuous lights, collapsible reflectors and ring-flash units serve to better illuminate what you're shooting.

FLASH
For its convenience and portability, a flash is the most popular choice for adding light to the scene. If you're considering upgrading an older unit, know that recycling times have been greatly improved in new models, so you won't have to wait long to continue shooting. Many newer flash units have a swivel head that can be aimed at a reflective surface, like a ceiling or wall, to bounce light for softer, indirect illumination.


Canon Speedlite 580EX II
The Canon Speedlite 580EX II has a maximum GN of 190, rotates 180 degrees in either direction for maximum bounce flexibility, and is resistant to dust and water. Other features include 20-percent faster recycling than its predecessor, E-TTL II operation for a variety of Canon cameras and an external metering sensor for non-TTL automatic flash exposure control. White-balance information is instantly transmitted to the SLR's processor for ensuring accurate colors. Estimated Street Price: $499.


Metz Mecablitz 58 AF-1
Compatible with all popular D-SLR cameras, the Metz Mecablitz 58 AF-1 has a USB port that allows future firmware updates via the Internet. With a GN of 190, the bounce head offers zoom coverage from 24mm to 105mm, and a built-in wide-angle diffuser expands that range to 18mm. Depending on the camera model, the 58 AF-1 offers high-speed synchronization and wireless TTL operation. Also included are specially designed reflectors that help boost output, a reflector card that flips open for soft flash lighting and an LCD display. Estimated Street Price: $399.


Nikon SB-900 Speedlight
One of the Nikon SB-900 Speedlight's most innovative features is its variety of light-distribution patterns. Standard and Center-weighted are ideal for portraits, while Even works optimally for group or interior shots. With a GN of 111.5, the flash covers an improved zoom range of 17-200mm in FX format (full frame) or as wide as 12mm for DX-format SLRs. Along with standalone use, the SB-900 can operate wirelessly as the trigger unit or as the wireless remote light source. In Wireless Commander Mode, the flash can control an unlimited number of compatible Speedlights. Estimated Street Price: $499.

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