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08-16-2007, 11:38 PM   #1
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flash bracket -- yes no?

I have never used a flash bracket when shooting events in the past, but now I'm reconsidering. More experienced event photographers I've talked to seem to fall into two schools: one says a bracket is really useful, the other says the bracket isn't useful enough to offset the fact that it's a hassle to deal with. Which do you think is right? With the Pentax 540FGZ flash unit attached to the camera by the hot shoe, I haven't felt particularly handicapped. I don't have problems with red eye. I bounce the flash when appropriate and possible and the results seem generally good. What exactly would I gain if I were to move the flash off the camera, up a few inches and over to the left?

I myself can see, or rather I can imagine, two main advantages to using a bracket. First, with the detachable unit on the bracket rather than on the camera, I could either use the camera's built-in flash or (if I owned one) use a second flash unit on the camera -- thus generating more light, if that really mattered. But how often does it really matter?

The other advantage I can see is that the bracket makes that "I'm the Pro" statement. Nice complement to the hand grip. I'm only half joking about this being an advantage.

Am I missing something else? Would I lead a better, fuller life as a photographer if I started shooting with the flash off the camera and on a bracket? And if I would, what bracket would you recommend? I would be grateful for budget-minded recommendations here, although if you want to explain to me why the $100 model you recommend is twice as good as the $50 model I would rather buy, I'm all ears.

Oh, one last question. If the camera has a bracket attached, do you have to take the bracket off to mount it on a tripod? I guess you must have to, but I'm not sure.

Thanks in advance.

Will

08-16-2007, 11:40 PM   #2
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By the way, here's one item that I'm considering:

Bogen-Manfrotto camera flash bracket model 233B

Price is right and the user reviews very positive. What do you think?

Oh, let me add that I use the K10D with the battery grip. I gather that some brackets aren't designed to work or work well if the camera has a power grip attached.

Will
08-17-2007, 04:53 AM   #3
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Hey..eh...where is the mount for the flash? haha. (I'm assuming you gotta buy this or does the 540 miraculously have a tripod mount?)
08-17-2007, 05:14 AM   #4
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Lol.

Now that is perfect timing. I just ordered one and it came in yesterday from the local camera shop.

I was looking for a bracket that was versatile enough to be used in macro work as well as for portraiture.

The bracket is very well made. There is a reversible screw for attachment to a tripod under the camera plate. You get both 3/8" and 1/4" threads. Likewise, you get another one for the flash.

The flash thread screws into the bottom of the off flash cord. Or, you can attach a ball head of your choice for even more flexibility (this is what I did to use for macro work).

It is a very well made light weight flash bracket. You can even change the axis of the camera plate simply by turning them after you loosen the knob. In this way, you can angle the flash arm leaning forward.

I like it, but I have not yet used it. Very versatile from what I have seen.

08-17-2007, 06:27 AM   #5
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Looks like my second post (an addendum) has side-tracked my own thread.

Still interested in responses to the original post.

Will
08-17-2007, 06:51 AM   #6
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Will, if you want a cheaper version to experiment with try this one Pivot Flash Bracket for 35mm Camera - New - (eBay item 120150279639 end time Aug-17-07 09:15:59 PDT) I bought it and have used it for about 2 years on an off. I bought a promaster cord for it and that combo and the Sigma 500 work well. I can say I only have used it for events indoors. I like the results and I think you will to. With the 540 I think you can even use the flash off camera without a cord. As for the comment about being more like a pro with one. I agree you feel more like a pro as everyone else is shooting at say a party with just the pop up flash or one attached. I too am half joking on that. I do feel like you get less shadows and shooting straight forward no bounce I like the results better then attached. Less red eye for sure. Do you need it? Maybe maybe not. For the $38. you can play and decide if you want to spend more for something different. Just my $.02
08-17-2007, 09:52 AM   #7
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The only major problem with that bracket..you will have to take the battery grip off the camera, Judging from the photo.

As per your first post, a flash bracket may or may not be needed depending upon the circumstances. The nice thing is that most models will fold flat for storage when you do not need it.

As for a better fuller life as a photographer... As a summative task for a course I was teaching, I would teach my students on how to make pin hole cameras. We would use photographic print paper as our film. They would get lost for several weeks tweaking their home made cameras to perfection. How is it possible to lead a fuller life as a photographer when we can find so much pleasure in something as simple as a cardboard box and a pin hole with a little wet chemistry thrown in?

Like everything else, equipment only makes our life easier. This is why photography is full of accessories. Do we truly need them other then the essentials? I like convenience myself.

08-17-2007, 10:01 AM   #8
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Will,

Check out the Vivitar PG-1 Pistol Grip. I used to have a picture of it on here but had to delete it to recover space to post something else. Look for one on ebay. (search for vivitar flash bracket pistol grip). I'd do it but can't get to ebay from work. This places the flash up and to the left (as viewed from viewfinder). It has a quick release so you can detach the whole grip and flash to handhold or tripod mount as desired. little hard to get ahold of but they work great. Only caution is since the shoe is metal you need to insulate it before mounting your flash (small piece of electrical tape will do in a pinch). Best of luck...
08-17-2007, 10:11 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chako Quote
The only major problem with that bracket..you will have to take the battery grip off the camera, Judging from the photo.
Yeah, I wondered about that myself. Looks like a nice bracket, though.


QuoteQuote:
As per your first post, a flash bracket may or may not be needed depending upon the circumstances. The nice thing is that most models will fold flat for storage when you do not need it.
Understood. I have looked at a bunch of them online and in the B&H catalog.


QuoteQuote:
As for a better fuller life as a photographer... As a summative task for a course I was teaching, I would teach my students on how to make pin hole cameras. We would use photographic print paper as our film. They would get lost for several weeks tweaking their home made cameras to perfection. How is it possible to lead a fuller life as a photographer when we can find so much pleasure in something as simple as a cardboard box and a pin hole with a little wet chemistry thrown in?
Well, I was smiling when I wrote "better fuller life", but I get your point. What I'm still trying to get a sense of is why you'd want to use a bracket, in real life. I've got a great camera and a great P-TTL flash unit (the 540) sitting atop the camera, and I have a reasonably clear idea what I'm doing with both of them. How does using a bracket matter to the photos that I will take? Still hoping someone will pitch in there, either to say "brackets are bunk!" or "I love my bracket because....." (feel free to use more than 25 words).


QuoteQuote:
Like everything else, equipment only makes our life easier. This is why photography is full of accessories. Do we truly need them other then the essentials? I like convenience myself.
Yes, absolutely. That's me all over! I was very reluctant to get the grip at first. Somewhere buried in the archives here is the thread I started on that subject. Eventually I was persuaded by personal testimonials that the grip was worth a try, and now I love it.

But I'm not sure that a flash bracket is quite as necessary as the grip seems to me. For one thing, it looks like one more hassle to deal with and it's bad enough having to carry around lenses and change them. If I'm not using the flash for a while (say, during a wedding ceremony) I think I'd prefer to take the flash off the camera -- lest someone get scared when I raise the camera to shoot. But having the bracket there without a flash on it is likely to look a bit silly. Don't mind looking silly, really, but I don't go out of my way to do it, either.

Will
08-17-2007, 01:12 PM   #10
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The bracket is only there so that you can control the shadows from your flash. The best orientation is for your flash to be fairly high, but inline with the lens. This way, any shadows are behind and down of the subject, thereby eliminating as much shadow as possible. You can easily do this without a bracket by placing your subjects away from close backgrounds. A bracket comes into its own if you can't get away from close backgrounds.

Now shadow from a flash on camera in landscape mode isn't so bad. However, when you flip the camera into portrait mode, do you really have to worry about flash shadow? Now the flash is off to the side creating a deep dark shadow on the opposite side of your subject. I mention this because not all brackets are made equal. There are 2 main types of flash brackets our there.

1. Camera flip style flash brackets (you can flip the camera and keep the flash in the same above orientation.

2. Flash flip brackets (you flip the flash instead of the camera).

It makes sense that style 1 is superior as the flash location does not change, giving you consistency in your photos in both landscape and portrait orientation.

You can use diffusers on your flash gun. This really works great in eliminating as much shadow as possible. Combine a bracket and a diffuser, and you have the best shadow elimination possible.

As for is it really needed? No and yes. It depends on the location and the subject matter. If you are going to shoot groups in front of a wall, then yes, you do not want a strong distracting shadow to show up. More so if you’re getting paid for it.
08-17-2007, 06:49 PM   #11
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Will,
i'd be more than happy to lend you a couple of grips and the off camera cords for a week or so. off camera flash opens up many aspects for flash photography.. i mainly use it for macros. well actually that's about the only time i use it except for pet shots.
roy
08-17-2007, 07:47 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by roy Quote
Will,
i'd be more than happy to lend you a couple of grips and the off camera cords for a week or so. off camera flash opens up many aspects for flash photography.. i mainly use it for macros. well actually that's about the only time i use it except for pet shots.
roy

Hey, Roy - thanks for the kind offer. I'll send you a message off list.

Will
08-18-2007, 09:26 AM   #13
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i'll give you a call.

roy
08-18-2007, 11:12 AM   #14
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When finally get around to buying a flash, I will get the Pentax adapters to move the hot shoe function off of the camera with a sync cable attachment. I guess you have to ask your self what kind of lighting fits your photographic style. Personally I detest flash (yes it is necessary some times), since when is the sun (our ultimate source of light) emanating from our foreheads?

Back in the days when I shot film (and had hair), I had two or three brackets to hold my flashes. I used them interchangeably on several cameras - and since the x-sync connector was the only way to use them I did not have to worry about hot shoe connections. That is the only thing I would be concerned with - hot shoe viability - does the bracket have the proper connections for the hot shoe to work?

On of the old brackets I had used a pistol style grip with a short strap - made it easy to carry the camera around. Add onto that the old flash I was using (2 inch flash tube - 1/2000 second flash) pure manual - no "fill" potential with this bad boy. That thing was so bright you could see puffs of smoke come out of peoples ears at 5 feet as their retinas were burned out - no red eye here - just coal like eyes.

If you need a bracket - get one - just get the flash off axis from the lens --> bad flat lighting.

PDL
08-18-2007, 11:29 AM   #15
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this one is DIY and i have another that i haven't used yet. will, ck your phone messages

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