Newbie off camera flash advice

Started 2 months ago | Discussions
FujiFuji New Member • Posts: 14
Newbie off camera flash advice

Hi,

I want to be able to take some better quality portraits of my kids and family. This is a hobby for me rather than something I'm looking to make a career out of. I've got a Fujifilm XT30 with XF27 and XF56 lenses and a small Godox TT350 flash. I'm just using this on camera and I'm bouncing off the ceiling at the moment.

I'm thinking of getting a more powerful flash to use off camera and using the TT350 as a remote. Initially I was considering getting a Godox TT685 but now I'm wondering if it might be worth spending some extra money on the Godox AD200. I'm thinking the extra power (+faster recycles) might come in handy when using with modifiers like a softbox - plus the bare bulb will produce more even light. Comes at a cost though...

Also thinking about:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B071J488BB/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00QUK0BDA/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0732VF22Z

I'd probably also pick up an umbrella and a reflector.

If I go with a TT685 would this type of softbox be better (reflecting rather than diffused):
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Neewer-Octagonal-Speedlite-Speedlight-Photography/dp/B00PIM3I7W

I did see a youtube video of someone recommending a softbox with bowens mount for more even light (as it's mounted in the centre) but also some contradicting advice on this forum.  So maybe it depends on the type of light source used?

Open to suggestions

Thanks!

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Schrodingers_cat Senior Member • Posts: 2,796
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice
2

FujiFuji wrote:

I'm wondering if it might be worth spending some extra money on the Godox AD200.

The AD200 is an extremely popular item. I rather doubt there's going to be much effort talking you out of this one Or maybe I'm mistaken, after all this is DPR

I'm thinking the extra power (+faster recycles) might come in handy when using with modifiers like a softbox - plus the bare bulb will produce more even light.

Modifiers eat up a lot of light. If you're really looking into expanding what you are doing, it's hard to beat having a bit of additional power.

Also thinking about:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B071J488BB/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00QUK0BDA/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0732VF22Z

I'd probably also pick up an umbrella and a reflector.

Umbrellas are generally regarded as being easier to use for someone just starting out. With certain exceptions, they can also be a LOT easier to set up and take down than a softbox.

It's sometimes recommended to get an umbrella the same diameter as a subject's height. Might want to investigate that.

How do you feel about price? You can get a perfectly serviceable Chinese umbrella on eBay for practically throw away prices.

You can get a Westcot and it'll outlast you. You can leave it to your kids in your will.

Get a piece of white foamcore board at your local equivalent of Hobby Lobby. hard to beat as a reflector and cheap.

If I go with a TT685 would this type of softbox be better (reflecting rather than diffused):

I prefer a shoot through, whether umbrella or soft box.  Although I use the term to describe a black umbrella that reflects the light back toward the subject "shooting through" a diffusion material across the front, not shooting through the umbrella part itself.  It's a user preference.

but also some contradicting advice on this forum.

Here? On DPR? Surely not

Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 14,901
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice
3

FujiFuji, you have a very bad case of GAS - Gear Acquisition Syndrome - and GAS can rapidly drain your bank account.

I suggest you start off simply and with a low budget.

With the right gear you will get good quality at a budget price.  With cheap gear you get crap.

Your flash is fine, and it can be used on-camera or off-camera. It even has a built-in RF receiver to let you control the flash from an on-camera RF trigger. You don't need another flash right now.  Later you will want a second flash and at that time you should ask what is recommended.

Here is the budget priced gear I recommend you start with. This gear is collapsible, which makes it easy and quick to assemble, easy to store in a small space, and easy to transport in a simple backpack or small suitcase. I travel with similar gear - all of it plus my flash, a shave kit, and a weeks worth of clothing in a small carry on roller suitcase.

I am giving you links to Adorama, which rebrands Godox gear with their house brand names.  You can also buy the same gear or very similar gear from B&H.

The reason is that Adorama and B&H are reliable companies that honor their warranties unlike many of the Chinese companies you can buy from on Amazon/eBay. If you live in the USA I strongly recommend buying from Adorama or B&H so you will get a good warranty.

This collapsible stand is small and light weight yet more than strong enough for this kit.  Outdoors you should have someone hold the stand or sand bag it to keep the wind from blowing over the stand with your umbrella and flash.

Adorma Westcott 5-Section Aluminum Alloy Light Stand 7425

This umbrella is a great diffuser, high quality, and very low in cost. You can use it in reflection mode with the black backing to reduce stray light or in shoot through mode to maximize stray light when wanted or when stray light isn't important.  This size umbrella will give you great lighting for everything from a full length portrait to a head shot.

Adorama Westcott 43" White (Collapsible) Satin Umbrella 2011

This is the smallest and lightest umbrella adapter, good for easy transport.

Adorama Westcott Metal Adjustable Shoe Mount Umbrella Bracket 5015

This adapter can be used with umbrellas for now or with a softbox in the future. A new version has just been announced with some advantages such as the ability to hold a larger light but I would still recommend this one for you.

Adorama Glow S-Type Speedlite Bracket With Bowens Mount GL-BD-SBRKT

For a remote controller I recommend this one from Adorama. If you don't live in the USA then get the Godox XPro trigger.

Adorama Flashpoint R2 Pro MarkII 2.4GHz Transmitter for Canon

Using your flash off-camera with this setup is easy.

Start by finding where to position the umbrella shaft in the bracket so that your flash will illuminate as much of the inside of the umbrella as possible without light spilling past the rim.  Simply take photos of the back of the umbrella with your flash firing at a low power setting.

Shaft not clamped at the right position, placing the flash too close to the inside of the umbrella.

Shaft clamped at the correct position so that light from the flash fills the umbrella without  spilling past the rim.

Indoors you normally use the umbrella in reflection mode with the black backing in place to minimize stray light. Position the umbrella about 45° to one side, at a height so that the lower 1/3 of the umbrella is below the subject's eye level to give you a nice catch light, and with the umbrella aimed at the subject. The distance from the subject should be between 5' and 6'.

The easy way to set the distance in reflection mode is to extend your arms to the sides and place one extended index finger close to the subject's nose and the other on the umbrella bracket next to the umbrella shaft. Since this "arm's span" is equal to your height the distance should be within the 5' to 6' range.

If you want to send lots of light to the subjects surroundings and background change to the shoot through mode. Set the umbrella up like before with the distance measured to the hub at the top of the umbrella.

Outdoors you can use the umbrella in reflection or shoot through mode, whatever is easiest.

Here are some good tutorials on how to use an umbrella. A flash meter is used but you don't have to have one.

Auto Exposure and TTL are great for on-camera run and gun photography where the subject to flash distance is constantly changing.

For portraiture the distance is generally fixed.  AE and TTL can introduce unwanted changes in exposure, even is you simply zoom the lens without changing anything else.

For portraiture always use you camera in Manual Exposure mode and your off-camera flash in Manual Power control mode.  This way all your exposures are identical.  Even if you miss the exposure slightly you can batch correct them - quick and easy.

Indoors use your camera's Histogram to find the right exposure, the exposure that places the right edge of the graph close to but not touching the end of the graph.  Since you always keep the light the same distance from the subject the exposure won't change even if you move it around the subject or change the subject's pose.

Outdoors with the subject in the shade do the same thing for the ambient exposure then add just enough flash to increase the total exposure by 1/3 to 1/2 stop. That way the flash will be contributing 20% to 30% of the total light on the outdoor subject.

Joe Brady - Control the Light and Improve Your Photography: Part 1 — Portraiture Using Available Light

Joe Brady - Control the Light and Improve Your Photography: Part 2 — Better Environmental Portraiture

Joe Brady - Blending Flash & Ambient Light for Beautiful Outdoor Portraits

Joe Brady - Key Lime Pie - Flash at the Beach

DPReview - fotowbert - Percent flash calculation: Studio and Lighting Technique Forum: Digital Photography Review

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OP FujiFuji New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice

Thank you both for the replies.

I'm from the UK so don't have Adorama or B&H..  The umbreallas don't seem too expensive.  A Westcott 43" is available for £36 from amazon - with some other brands as cheap as £6.  I guess the very cheap ones probably won't be very durable but are probably similar in terms of quality of light.

Definitely makes sense to pick up an umbrella for the price, portability and easy setup.  The softboxes I was looking at were all umbrella style for this reason but I guess they are still a bit more faff than an umbrella.

I want to keep it simple with a single light source and use a reflector to fill in shadows where needed.  There are packs of collapsible reflectors for less than £15.  Not sure how these compare to the foamcore boards but there doesn't seem to be much difference in terms of price.

An X Pro trigger is £60 - I was considering this more of a luxury.  For an extra £36 I could get the TT685 flash and use my existing flash as a trigger.  Guessing the ergonomics is better with the dedicated trigger but I was thinking it might be better to invest in a more powerful flash (I could be wrong about the need for a dedicated trigger though). I then started looking at the AD200 - could be overkill for me but seems like it would be more suited for use with modifiers - with the bare bulb option and extra power.

Sailor Blue - I'd seen the Joe Brady links from another of your posts on this forum.  Very useful - bookmarked and will be watching more of his stuff.  Knowledge/Experience > gear

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BAK Forum Pro • Posts: 24,854
Cheapest, easiest, and pretty good
1

Put your current flash on top of your camera, turn it up a bit toward the ceiling and twist it  the flash points behind you.

Hold a piece of foam core, or similar, with your left hand, so the board is wedged into your shoulder.

Snap the shutter.

Second easiest, second cheapest, even better.

Flash on a light stand with an umbrella.

I don't know if your camera's flash "commander"will trigger the flash, but you can buy a fairly inexpensive trigger.

BAK

Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 14,901
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice
1

FujiFuji wrote:

Thank you both for the replies.

I'm from the UK so don't have Adorama or B&H.. The umbreallas don't seem too expensive. A Westcott 43" is available for £36 from amazon - with some other brands as cheap as £6. I guess the very cheap ones probably won't be very durable but are probably similar in terms of quality of light.

They won't be the quality of the Westcott umbrellas and they probably won't be collapsible.

There are lots of cheaper umbrellas for photography but I recommend the Westcott umbrellas because they are collapsible and of good quality. I am still using the ones I bought in the early nineties.

Definitely makes sense to pick up an umbrella for the price, portability and easy setup. The softboxes I was looking at were all umbrella style for this reason but I guess they are still a bit more faff than an umbrella.

They are going to be heavier and take up at least 10 times as much space. My Selens 65cm 26" Foldable Collapsible Beauty Dish Softbox is 55 cm x 20 cm in its case. The Westcott collapsible 43" umbrellas are about 38 cm x 8 cm when collapsed.

I want to keep it simple with a single light source and use a reflector to fill in shadows where needed. There are packs of collapsible reflectors for less than £15. Not sure how these compare to the foamcore boards but there doesn't seem to be much difference in terms of price.

Buy an extra stand for the reflector.

Don't spend the money on those pop-up reflectors and a fancy holder for them.

Spend your money on an extra umbrella bracket, spigot, a good cheap spring clamp such as an "A" spring clamp, and either a 1/4"x 20 bolt or cap nut. Here is my DIY rigid reflector holder. With this you can hold a rigid reflector at any height and at any angle.

Amazon.com - Impact Umbrella Bracket with Adjustable Shoe : Photographic Light Mounting Hardware : Camera & Photo

Amazon.com - Manfrotto 118 Male Spigot for 2905 1/4-20-Inch Male and 3/8-Inch Male 26mm Long Adapter - Replaces 3107 : Photographic Light Mounting Hardware : Camera & Photo

Amazon.com - Manfrotto 119 Female Spigot for 026 1/4-Inch 20 Female and 3/8-Inch Female 31mm Long Adapter - Replaces 3108 : Photographic Light Mounting Hardware : Electronics

You can get white foam core board or plastic cardboard for a white reflector.

Black foam core board is better than black plastic cardboard since it has a matte surface while the plastic cardboard surface is shiny and reflective.

You may be able to find foam core board that is white on one side and black on the other or you can paint one side of a sheet of white foam core board black.

Buy an extra sheet of foam core board. Scrunch up some aluminum foil then flatten it out - it will be randomly wrinkled. Spray one side of the sheet of foam core board and one side of the sheet of foil with contact adhesive then stick the foil to the board. You now have a shiny but not mirrored reflector.

An X Pro trigger is £60 - I was considering this more of a luxury. For an extra £36 I could get the TT685 flash and use my existing flash as a trigger.

With the TT685 you have to include the cost of at least two sets of rechargable batteries and a charger. I use Eneloop batteries but there are other good quality batteries now, including some from Maha.

I recommend a smart charger like this to maximize the life of your batteries.

Amazon.com - Maha PowerEx MH-C9000 WizardOne AA/AAA Battery Charger & Analyzer, add 8-pack PowerEx 2700mAh

It can actually be less expensive to buy the Godox V860 II, which comes with a charger and with a Li-Ion battery that will outlast two sets of rechargable batteries in the TT685.

Guessing the ergonomics is better with the dedicated trigger but I was thinking it might be better to invest in a more powerful flash (I could be wrong about the need for a dedicated trigger though). I then started looking at the AD200 - could be overkill for me but seems like it would be more suited for use with modifiers - with the bare bulb option and extra power.

The AD200 will give you more power, about 2-1/3 stops more power than you have now. You would still have to buy an umbrella bracket. For the AD200 I recommend the AD-B2 bracket, which has a LED modeling light and which can hold two AD200s. The modeling light, however, is so weak that there might as well not be any modeling light. You need two AD200s to get two LED modeling light bulbs, and even then the modeling light is marginal.

For less than the cost of the AD200 you can get a a 5-stop range (1/1 to 1/32) 300Ws Godox MS300 studio strobe that has a useful modeling light, AND you can get the XPro trigger.

Sailor Blue - I'd seen the Joe Brady links from another of your posts on this forum. Very useful - bookmarked and will be watching more of his stuff. Knowledge/Experience > gear

Here are the classical portrait lighting setups. By far the most useful is Short Loop lighting, which is simply called Short Lighting in this link. Once you master Short Loop lighting learn Butterfly and Split lighting. Save Broad lighting for anorexic subjects.

Portrait Lighting - Project 3 - Portrait Lighting Set-Ups

Clay Blackmore is a master photographer who specializes in portraiture and weddings. His most used lighting setup is Short Loop lighting. Here are some links to some of his posts.

Clay Blackmore - YouTube - Pose Light Love 2015 08 11

Clay Blackmore - YouTube - Techniques For Posing and Lighting

Clay Blackmore - Head Posing Guide.pdf

Rembrandt lighting is a variation on Short Loop lighting. Here Clay shows just how easy it is to go from Short Loop lighting to Rembrandt lighting.

Clay Blackmore - How to Find Rembrandt Lighting When Posing Portraits - YouTube

Here is a two day version of the Pose It, Light It, Love It tutorial Clay does.

Clay Blackmore - CreativeLive - Pose It, Light It, Love It - $129

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tugwilson Senior Member • Posts: 1,454
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice
1

I have a TT350F and it's my least favourite Godox product. It's an adequate on camera flash but it's not a nice trigger. The wireless power is lower than a dedicated trigger like the XPro. the firmware is buggy (I can't get HSS to work on a TT600, for example). Godox have never updated the firmware from the first version which is unusual as they generally release a second version soon after release to fix the problems that people have found in the field (edited to add - there was an update but it didn't fix my HSS problem).

However, It should be adequate for your intended use - be aware that if you do run into problems it may be caused by the TT350F.

As far as I can see you have four options for an off camera light before things get too expensive. In increasing order of price they are:

TT600 + S-Type bracket This gives you manual off camera flash with the ability to use Bowens mount modifiers or an umbrella. You don't get TTL. In theory you get HSS but I can't get it to work with my TT350F as a trigger.

TT865F + S-Type bracket Basically this is a TT600 with the addition of a Fuji specific shoe and TTL support.

MS300 Mains only light. About 4 times as powerful as the speedlights above. No HSS or TTL. Reasonably fast recycle time (~1.2 seconds at full power) You could save £7 by buying the 200Ws version but I don't see why you would. You can use Bowens mount modifiers with no extra equipment but you really need a reflector if you want to use an umbrella.

AD200 + S-Type bracket If you are in the UK I very strongly recommend you buy it from Pixapro rather than from a vendor on Amazon. It's no more expensive and you get local support. About 3 times as powerful as the speedlights. Needs a reflector if you want to use an umbrella. Rechargeable battery and lots of pops from a single charge. OK recycle time (~2 seconds at full power). The replaceable head is really nice. You can add the round head and the extension head which makes it a very flexible system.

Whilst I love the AD200 I'm not sure it's worth the money for your use.

Don't buy the cheapest stand you can find you will regret it very quickly. Pixapro do decent quality, inexpensive stands they also do some decent collapsable softboxes.

Now, umbrellas! If you are going to use one in your home than you may hit problems. Shoot through umbrellas scatter light in all directions. In a studio this generally isn't much of a problem but in a small room it can be. The light will bounce of walls and ceiling and pick up any colour from the decorations. Reflective umbrellas don't have so much of a problem but they are still hard to control the light. A softbox gives you lots more control especially if you have a grid on it.

OP FujiFuji New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice

Sailor Blue - Thanks again for the detailed response.  That's given me a few things to think about.  I've already got a charger and use eneloops with my TT350F but I would need some extra batteries if I go for a TT685.

Sailor Blue/tugwilson.  The MS300 looks like very good value.  Would ideally prefer something smaller that doesn't need to be tethered to the mains but for the price I will give this some consideration.

tugwilsion - thanks for sharing your experience using the TT350F.  I might re-consider getting a dedicated trigger or at least factor in that I might need to upgrade later.

BAK - I've been using this technique minus the foam core. I got this pic on Friday that I'm quite happy with.  This room has white ceilings and walls so I think the bounce works quite well.

The responses have been useful.  Thank you!

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BAK Forum Pro • Posts: 24,854
Buy some frames
2

Get prints made. Buy frames. Distribute gifts.

BAK

Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 14,901
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice
1

When I want to light the background and environment around the subjecttugwilson wrote:

I have a TT350F and it's my least favourite Godox product. It's an adequate on camera flash but it's not a nice trigger. The wireless power is lower than a dedicated trigger like the XPro. the firmware is buggy (I can't get HSS to work on a TT600, for example). Godox have never updated the firmware from the first version which is unusual as they generally release a second version soon after release to fix the problems that people have found in the field (edited to add - there was an update but it didn't fix my HSS problem).

However, It should be adequate for your intended use - be aware that if you do run into problems it may be caused by the TT350F.

As far as I can see you have four options for an off camera light before things get too expensive. In increasing order of price they are:

TT600 + S-Type bracket This gives you manual off camera flash with the ability to use Bowens mount modifiers or an umbrella. You don't get TTL. In theory you get HSS but I can't get it to work with my TT350F as a trigger.

TT865F + S-Type bracket Basically this is a TT600 with the addition of a Fuji specific shoe and TTL support.

MS300 Mains only light. About 4 times as powerful as the speedlights above. No HSS or TTL. Reasonably fast recycle time (~1.2 seconds at full power) You could save £7 by buying the 200Ws version but I don't see why you would. You can use Bowens mount modifiers with no extra equipment but you really need a reflector if you want to use an umbrella.

AD200 + S-Type bracket If you are in the UK I very strongly recommend you buy it from Pixapro rather than from a vendor on Amazon. It's no more expensive and you get local support. About 3 times as powerful as the speedlights. Needs a reflector if you want to use an umbrella. Rechargeable battery and lots of pops from a single charge. OK recycle time (~2 seconds at full power). The replaceable head is really nice. You can add the round head and the extension head which makes it a very flexible system.

Whilst I love the AD200 I'm not sure it's worth the money for your use.

Don't buy the cheapest stand you can find you will regret it very quickly. Pixapro do decent quality, inexpensive stands they also do some decent collapsable softboxes.

Now, umbrellas! If you are going to use one in your home than you may hit problems. Shoot through umbrellas scatter light in all directions. In a studio this generally isn't much of a problem but in a small room it can be. The light will bounce of walls and ceiling and pick up any colour from the decorations. Reflective umbrellas don't have so much of a problem but they are still hard to control the light. A softbox gives you lots more control especially if you have a grid on it.

Nice post tugwilson. Lots of very good information. The OP should read study this, not just give it a quick read.

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Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 14,901
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice
1

FujiFuji, Here is a bit more information to get you started.

In the past, before I bought softboxes, I only used umbrellas indoors or out, and I still use them outdoors and for location portraiture where traveling light is important. Normally I want the umbrellas in reflection mode with the black backing in place to minimize stray light, but not always. When I want to light the background and environment around the subject an umbrella in shoot through mode is the tool of choice.

In my home "studio" I now have and use very nice (not cheap) softboxes, but I never travel with them. Even the 26" umbrella opening softbox I have is much more of a pain to travel with than a collapsible umbrella so it is really a stay at home light diffuser.

If you have a softbox where the outer diffuser is flush with the front of the softbox, or a reflection umbrella with a black backing, you will find that you get a hemisphere of light from either diffuser. Both will produce a brighter disk or rounded square/rectangle in front of the diffuser that is fairly evenly lit. This central area is surrounded by an area that fairly quickly gets darker as the angle away from the center increases.

It is that central fairly evenly lit area that you use. The rest of the light is stray light that can illuminate your background or can bounce off of nearby surfaces. and reduce your control of the subject and background lighting.

If you want to reduce the stray light you need a softbox with a recessed outer diffuser. This will immediately reduce the amount of light going to the sides by simply blocking it. To reduce it even further you need a grid to stop even more light from going to the sides, but adding a grid will drop the light output by a couple of stops.

If you are starting out it is best to Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) and to keep the costs down.

A great way to start portraiture is with a single budget priced 300Ws strobe and a 43" white umbrella with a removable backing.

Digital Photography Review - Thomas Park - The One-Light Studio

As you learn what you can do with just this you will suddenly find that it is time to add a reflector, then time to add a fill light, a background light or two, accent lights, softboxes, grids, flags, snoots, etc., etc., etc.

I guarantee you develop a full blown case of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) so beware and use your head.

Here are some tips to let you expand your capabilities on the cheap.

Need a reflector - position the subject close to a white wall and you have a zero cost reflector.

Want a background, use a corner in a room that has white walls or buy a cheap white folding screen from a discount store, Amazon, or eBay. You can place the subject in the center and use the corner or folding screen as the background.

With a screen you can simply clamp some pieces of low cost fabric to the screen to give you a different background. Velvet and Velveteen don't wrinkle much, and you can quickly steam any wrinkles out or simply dampen the back of the fabric with a mist of water to make the wrinkles disappear. Patterned fabrics make great backgrounds, especially if you have to room to pull the subject away from then an blur the background by using a wide aperture for a shallow depth of field.

When you are finished simply fold the screen up and put it away.

Here is one way to use a corner in a room or the white folding screen. Most screens have a texture but by using white Velvet or Velveteen you can get a smooth featureless background.

Both reflection and shoot through modes work but you get a bit more difference between the highlights and shadows in reflection mode.  Highlights and shadows are good since they give a flat printed image a 3D appearance.

Position the subject about a foot from each wall. Place the umbrella about your height from the subject ( Hint: Your arms span index finger tip to finger tip is about equal to your height), at a height so that the lower 1/3 of the umbrella is below the subject's eye level for a nice catch light, and aimed at the upper body and face.

You can move the umbrella around the subject and change the subject's pose as much as you want and as long as you keep the subject to umbrella distance the same the exposure will remain the same.

With a hot-shoe flash I suggest you try ISO 100, f/2.8 to f/5.6.  With a strobe you may have to go to a smaller aperture but you should be able to go to at least f/4 by moving the umbrella to about 8', just don't move it any further or you start getting hard light.

The white background will be your light meter. Start with enough flash/strobe power to make the background blink when you have your camera's Highlight Alert turned on. Reduce the flash/strobe power in small increments until the background stops blinking. That is your exposure.

Even if you now change the background from white to any color, or even to black, the subject exposure won't change because that only depends on the distance from the subject to the light, not the background.

Try to keep the camera at least 10' from the subject to minimize extension distortion. The best distance is 15' but that is further than most small home studios or locations will allow for.

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GMACNEIL Regular Member • Posts: 462
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice

Great information here!

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OP FujiFuji New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice

I appreciate the tips - thanks!

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OP FujiFuji New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice

Your advice seems to be aligned and I appreciate both of your very detailed responses to my post.  I will be re-reading them a few times. 

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OP FujiFuji New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice

Quick update -

Thanks for the recommendation on the MS300.  I've ordered it today so I'm looking forward to playing about with it.  Hopefully I'll be able to get some great photos with some more learning and a bit of experience.

Also decided to go with an octabox and light stand from luxlight.  They seem to get good reviews - hopefully a good balance of price/quality.  The company is relatively local which is a bonus.

I've got some white walls in my house that I can make use of - I'll see how I get on and add stuff later if I need it.

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tugwilson Senior Member • Posts: 1,454
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice

FujiFuji wrote:

Quick update -

Thanks for the recommendation on the MS300. I've ordered it today so I'm looking forward to playing about with it. Hopefully I'll be able to get some great photos with some more learning and a bit of experience.

Excellent!

This video should help you get up to speed with the light. It's very straightforward but there are a couple of things in it (like setting the modeling light to dim when the flash fires) that I missed in the manual.

OP FujiFuji New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice

tugwilson wrote:

FujiFuji wrote:

Quick update -

Thanks for the recommendation on the MS300. I've ordered it today so I'm looking forward to playing about with it. Hopefully I'll be able to get some great photos with some more learning and a bit of experience.

Excellent!

This video should help you get up to speed with the light. It's very straightforward but there are a couple of things in it (like setting the modeling light to dim when the flash fires) that I missed in the manual.

Thank you.  Recently started watching a few of Robert Halls videos - seems like he knows his stuff and produces some very informative videos.

Got all the kit today and managed to set it up.  Quick test using a doll - seems to be working.  Just need to play about with it some more and learn how to use it properly. White balance was way off with auto white balance but setting it to "cloudy day" seemed to fix it.  Got some white balance cards free so might be able to use those to dial it in correctly.

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OP FujiFuji New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice

PS.  The MS 300 came with a standard reflector in the box.  This was a UK version with a UK plug - I'm guessing it's not included in some other regions.

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Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 14,901
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice

FujiFuji wrote:

tugwilson wrote:

FujiFuji wrote:

Quick update -

Thanks for the recommendation on the MS300. I've ordered it today so I'm looking forward to playing about with it. Hopefully I'll be able to get some great photos with some more learning and a bit of experience.

Excellent!

This video should help you get up to speed with the light. It's very straightforward but there are a couple of things in it (like setting the modeling light to dim when the flash fires) that I missed in the manual.

Thank you. Recently started watching a few of Robert Halls videos - seems like he knows his stuff and produces some very informative videos.

Got all the kit today and managed to set it up. Quick test using a doll - seems to be working. Just need to play about with it some more and learn how to use it properly. White balance was way off with auto white balance but setting it to "cloudy day" seemed to fix it. Got some white balance cards free so might be able to use those to dial it in correctly.

Never use Auto WB for portraiture.

Wait, let me correct that:

NEVER USE AUTO WB ANYTHING FOR PORTRAITURE!

If you want to know why simply take a waist up photo of a subject in a red sweater with Auto WB then have them change to a green sweater and take another Auto WB shot. Check the two shots in your post processing software. The same thing happens if the color of the background changes.

When doing portraiture I recommend:

1. Use manual flash/strobe power control.

With TTL flash all you have to do is change the composition (e.g. full length to head and shoulders) and the amount of light output can change, which changes the exposure, which means lots of work fixing exposures in post.

With manual flash/strobe power control as long as the subject to flash/strobe distance doesn't change the amount of light on the subject will never change.  This means the exposure should never change.

2. Use manual exposure control.

Auto exposure can change the exposure if you change the composition (e.g. full length to head and shoulders) even though the subject to flash distance doesn't change. This means correcting the exposure of many shots in post.

Unless you change the subject to light distance every manual exposure shot will have the same exposure. Even if you miss the exposure slightly you can batch process the exposure change for all the images.

2. Never use Auto WB for the reason explained above.

Basically, for portraiture forget about all those fancy Auto things - you want consistent results so go back to manual everything.

If all you have is a small WB card take a shot with the model holding the card just in front of their face and flat on to the camera as your first shot.  That will be the image you use to set the WB during post.  You can then batch change the WB of all the images taken in the same lighting using the WB from that first image.

Ideally you have a WB target that is large enough that you can fill your camera's viewfinder with it so you can set a Custom WB. Set the lens to Manual Focus and at ∞. Move in close so the WB card fills the viewfinder and take an Auto Exposure shot. This is your Custom WB shot.

Be sure you don't cast a shadow on the WB card. Be sure to switch back to Manual Exposure.

If you don't have a large WB card you can make one cheaply. Here is how to DIY a large WB card.

Sailorblue - Using a DIY Plastic White Card for WB

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tugwilson Senior Member • Posts: 1,454
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice

FujiFuji wrote:

PS. The MS 300 came with a standard reflector in the box. This was a UK version with a UK plug - I'm guessing it's not included in some other regions.

Mine was a UK version too and came without a reflector.

Was the reflector in the Godox box or was it separate? It's possible that some vendors are adding the reflector.

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