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01-16-2012, 03:57 PM   #1
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Should I sell my flash, or use it?!

I'm an available light guy particularly when it comes to people and event shooting (hobby only). But maybe I haven't learned the virtues of creative flash photography. I've played around with flash photography here and there but haven't used it out of "need" per se. I shoot a bit of everything as a hobby/enthusiast: landscape, portrait, macro, abstract, travel, family...

I've got a Pentax 540 which really shouldn't sit on the shelf. I've thought about getting a cheaper flash that I could trigger wirelessly to get the placement, bounce etc that I want as I don't use flash much. What brand/model might that be if I went that route?

Before I get serious about selling my Pentax 540 (which came sort of as part of a used kit I bought), can you strobists tell me why I might consider keeping it?

01-16-2012, 04:40 PM   #2
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there are two basic uses of a flash - adding light when there is not enough of it and changing light when you want to create particular mood to the scene. The firt use is obvious and onboard flash does it too. Extranal flash can be used very creatively. The famous "onelight" video shows a lot about it.

Still, if you are aware of creative light, and just don't care, then sell the flash. It's not a sin to take pictures without it.
01-16-2012, 04:45 PM   #3
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Keep it because it works well in both manual and PTTL modes...

I use and enjoy manual flashes... both on and off camera... If I could afford a 540 it'd be on my hotshoe when I want 'on-camera' and it'd be in PTTL mode cos it works and it's easy!!

Off-camera it'd be in manual-mode and be treated like any of my other flashes (285hv&YN560) with a cactus trigger on the foot...

Have you got triggers?

I get the impression you just find using flash uninspiring... Maybe check out some of the many strobist groups on flickr for inspiration...

Personally I like going to places and 'playing around' with flash when I have a day off on my own... It's great fun...

This one is from a while ago (flash is inside the shelter, you can see where it's blown out the wall... *shaking head in shame*)... Harewood House Gardens... Spent the day running about, setting off flashguns and getting funny looks... Brilliant fun!! Your 540 and a radio trigger set can easily do stuff like this and more!
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01-16-2012, 06:51 PM   #4
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Learn to use it! It's not as easy as just upping the ISO, but the results are far more pleasing and you have so many more creative options when you know how to use an external flash.

Because it's practically impossible to take macro photos with your DA35 macro without using an external flash - you can now shoot at F22 and 1:1 macro!
Because you can use bounce flash and low ISO to get really sharp interiors and portraits without any noise.
Because you can light subjects from the side to get a really 3D look.
Because you will get better results being able to use a smaller aperture and lower ISO than high ISO and wide open in available light, especially when taking photos of groups or parties.
Slow speed shutter sync & Trailing shutter sync lets you show movement creatively - you can have a picture that is both sharp and has trails of movement blur.

It is possible to trigger the AF540 with the camera's built in flash, I would give this a go to see if it's all you need before buying another system. It's all I ever use with my AF360.

01-16-2012, 08:11 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mr_Canuck Quote
But maybe I haven't learned the virtues of creative flash photography. I've played around with flash photography here and there but haven't used it out of "need" per se.
Go to Strobist and read Lighting 101 and Lighting 102 and work on the exercises. You'll learn a lot about how to use your flash.
01-16-2012, 08:34 PM   #6
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once I bought radio flash triggers I learned to LOVE my strobe... but nothing beats a nice small camera package for walk arounds which often do not include a flash
01-16-2012, 08:37 PM   #7
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Some folks would have one believe that flash light is bad and natural light is good. The truth is light is light.

The results count, not how you get there as far as i'm concerned. Flashes have opened up an area of creativity that i wouldn't be able to get into without them. Also, flashes have taught me a bit about the nuances of light. As i've said already - light is light.

All the ones below were done with cheap Yongnuo 460 II, or 560 manual flashes and Cactus triggers v5:

the first one was done with flash "painting", no trigger no pttl, just walking around triggering the flash. maybe 15-20 hits with the flash - this truck was pitch black and no amount of long exp would have helped. I used a gel filter for the cab :-)











strobist work is just plain fun


Last edited by philbaum; 01-16-2012 at 08:43 PM.
01-16-2012, 10:20 PM   #8
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I reckon what we're all trying to say is that one flashgun and a set of triggers can give an enormous amount of diferent lighting options...

Here's a few more

The 2 at the bottom were shot seconds apart at my local climbing wall as 'mess-abouts'
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01-16-2012, 11:15 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mr_Canuck Quote
I've got a Pentax 540 which really shouldn't sit on the shelf. I've thought about getting a cheaper flash that I could trigger wirelessly to get the placement, bounce etc that I want as I don't use flash much. What brand/model might that be if I went that route?
You're still interested in the use of flash, so why would you sell it? Just to fund some radio triggers? Or to replace it buy a couple of cheaper ones? If you're never going to use more than one flash in a setup, I would keep the AF540.

I'm absolutely no flash specialist and my AF540 spends most of its life in the cupboard but I will not sell it as I at occasion need it.
01-17-2012, 08:29 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
Some folks would have one believe that flash light is bad and natural light is good. The truth is light is light.

The results count, not how you get there as far as i'm concerned. Flashes have opened up an area of creativity that i wouldn't be able to get into without them. Also, flashes have taught me a bit about the nuances of light. As i've said already - light is light.

All the ones below were done with cheap Yongnuo 460 II, or 560 manual flashes and Cactus triggers v5:

the first one was done with flash "painting", no trigger no pttl, just walking around triggering the flash. maybe 15-20 hits with the flash - this truck was pitch black and no amount of long exp would have helped. I used a gel filter for the cab :-)



strobist work is just plain fun
The truck thing alone inspired me about the possibilities. That's super cool. What did you physically do to trigger the flash and to open the camera shutter? Was it one long exposure or several or what?
01-17-2012, 09:05 PM   #11
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Almost every photo can be improved with flash lighting, assuming that it is strong enough to reach the subject. Ambient lighting is very rarely perfect and a flash can change that in a positive way.

Once you learn how to use it effectively, you will find it very useful in portraits and absolutely essential in macro work.

So keep it and use it more often. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
01-18-2012, 01:25 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mr_Canuck Quote
The truck thing alone inspired me about the possibilities. That's super cool. What did you physically do to trigger the flash and to open the camera shutter? Was it one long exposure or several or what?
Put your camera on a tripod and say 20-30s shutter. Use a fairly large dof if thats what you want, like f8 or something. Because the shutter is so long, you can actually walk in front of your camera, and the image won't show it provided you keep on moving, don't stop. (its just one long shutter)

then put your flash in manual mode as well. and trip it as you walk along, think of it like spraying paint on the truck. you trip the flash by pushing on the test or pilot button. Hopefully, your flush is fairly well carried in one hand and the test button able to be triggered by one finger. Set a fractional power of about 1/32.

Thats about it, adjust your settings as needed for the work you are doing. Good luck!
01-18-2012, 04:45 AM   #13
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Hit youtube for loads of 'light painting' tutorial videos.... Some ar better than others...
01-18-2012, 10:54 AM   #14
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I'm glad I asked. I won't think of selling the external flash without giving it a good run with some creative use. It sounds really fun. Thanks for all the replies.
01-18-2012, 11:46 AM   #15
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You could sell it to me for 200 bucks. Another flash would have worked here. I only had 2 with me...needed a rim light.
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