Strobes are losing their appeal ...

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
Ed Shapiro
Ed Shapiro Contributing Member • Posts: 563
Re: Strobes are losing their appeal ... Not Really!

Oftentimes, in online photo forums, there is too much emphasis on EQUIPMENT issues as opposed to PRACTICAL PHOTOGRAHY issues. You can not judge the usefulness or applicability of any category of equipment by what is popular among the retailers and, excuse the expression, the gear heads! There are many pieces of specialized equipment and accessories, that are used effectively by advanced amateur and professional photographers, that many folks probably never heard of, that are extremely useful and some cases indispensable. Just because they are not flying off the shelves of your favourite dealer or being sought after by the used gear specialists, does not mean they are outmoded or have lost popularity in their niche or specialized markets.

Then there are the "bad flash myths". Folks pontificate that flash produces flat artificial-looking images that lack modelling, produce overexposed foreground and black-hole backgrounds, cast distracting shadows on walls and backgrounds and cause "red-eye" That all happens when you don't know how to use flash effectively and probably don't know much about the basic principles of photographic lighting.

I suspect that the used camera specialist dealers are no crazy about used flash unts, strobes, speedlights, etc., for several reasons. There are "vintage" cameras and lens that have high resale value. There are vintage wines there are no "vintage kinds of milk" because it spoils with age. Old strobes are problematic in that the capacitors deform if left dormant for long periods of time. Parts and services may be unobtainable. Older fully manual units without all the bells and whistles a not popular among amateurs so they are not popular with used gear specialists.

Yes, cameras and lenses have evolved to the point where the use of available light is more viable in many situations, but there are certain applications and situations where electronic flash prevails, There are many studio applications in portraiture, commercial and fashion photography, photojournalism highspeed action and sports photography where electronic flas is virtually indispensable. True enough, you could shoot a back cat in a coal mine at midnight with a modern digital camera and no use of flash and come up with an image, but will you get action-stoppig shutter speeds, depth of field, and noiseless images all at the same time?

Good flash equipment is costly and there is not too much competition anymore. I have some old Popular Photography buying guides and there were dozens of manufacturers producing flash electronic flash gear. Old-timmers w may recall Ascor, Braun, Dormitzer, Hico-Lite, Hershey, Lumadyne, Mighty-Light, Norman, FR, Quantum, Photogenic, Vinca, Miltiblitz, Megablitz, Starlighter, Buff, Berkey-Canadian, Olig, PLR, Ecpertronic, Elinchrom, Rolleilight- mostly gone! Nowadays there are many half a dozen still producing and the power, BCPS, industrial design and quality, except on the higher-end unts is not as good.

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Ed Shapiro- Commercial and Portrait Photographer. Ottawa, Ontario Canada

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