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10-01-2009, 01:53 PM   #1
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flash bracket vs off-camera setup

I am at a critical junction. Flash bracket vs lighting stands + extra gear.

I want to experiment more with fashion photography (portraiture, etc) and discovered that I need all this other gear.

The light stands, umbrella mounts, umbrellas, and other gear really start to add up.

What's worse, is that I'm really confused about whether to buy this stuff and mount my flashes on them, or to just buy a cheap strobe kit for around 200 usd that includes all of this stuff.

Should I buy the Porsche or just pimp my Jetta?

There's no clear consensus on the usability of a flash bracket. To take it even further, am I better off purchasing a high quality bracket or will a cheap unit work for now?

Should I purchase external gear (stands, umbrellas, and the necessary adapters) on which to mount the flashes; or should I purchase a budget flash bracket, and combine that with 2 low budget strobes?

Should I rent a loft in Manhattan or live with my parents for free?

Is it me, or is this lighting stuff really confusing (for people on a tight budget)?

Just when you think you see a good deal you realize that for a little more money you can get a better value. Is this a y-curve or does this craziness continue steadily?

This issue is so confusing to me I don't even know how to structure this question.

10-01-2009, 02:22 PM   #2
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David,

If you have not, I suggest you visit Strobist Website.

Go through the articles, starting with Lighting 101. They will answer most of your questions.
10-01-2009, 03:18 PM   #3
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Definitely learn to crawl before you run.
Once you've got the hang of lighting techniques, you'll find the simplest lighting setups being capable of getting great results.
10-01-2009, 06:16 PM   #4
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Start simple before investing too much. The more you learn, the more you'll know what you want.

10-01-2009, 06:36 PM   #5
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Flash brackets vs off-camera lighting serve two different purposes.

Flash brackets are normally used for event type photography like weddings where you need to keep the flash with the camera, but need to keep it above the lens whether in portrait or landscape orientation. I use a Stroboframe Camera Flip when I'm doing weddings and receptions.

Off-camera is (typically) more suited to studio setups or semi-controlled environments where you aren't moving from person to person.

Start reading Strobist and read through Lighting 101, 102, and the On-Assignment archive.
10-02-2009, 02:46 AM   #6
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Thanks, I'll read it and weep!
10-08-2011, 06:57 PM   #7
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Alohadave- how do you have your flash set up, when in landscape do you bounce with a 90 degree or 45 and same question when flipped to portrait?im a noob as well who just obtained a custom brackets flash bracket paired with the AF360 and K-5. im about to help shoot a reception and need helps and tips.


Last edited by Bear; 10-08-2011 at 06:58 PM. Reason: typo
10-08-2011, 09:20 PM   #8
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Hey Bear,

What's the model of your bracket? I have 2 Custom Brackets brackets, QRS-35-H and QRS-35 (and a Stroboframe VH-2000 and a Newton N-7000). Maybe I can help.

Check this out.


Last edited by SOldBear; 10-08-2011 at 11:51 PM.
10-09-2011, 07:12 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bear Quote
Alohadave- how do you have your flash set up, when in landscape do you bounce with a 90 degree or 45 and same question when flipped to portrait?im a noob as well who just obtained a custom brackets flash bracket paired with the AF360 and K-5. im about to help shoot a reception and need helps and tips.
When I'm shooting events, my bracket keeps the flash above the camera in landscape or portrait orientation (same concept as SOldBear's, different bracket).

If I'm in a large room with a high ceiling, I'll point the flash straight forward with a DIY diffuser on the flash. If the ceilings are low enough, I may bounce off the ceiling. Never off the walls, too inconsistent, and it gives me different looks 9and you never know if you'll be blasting someone that might be standing near the wall). I like to have my flash look the same in each shot.

I balance for the ambient, set my flash, and put everything on manual. That way, I just have to put myself x distance from each group or person and the shots will be consistent.
10-10-2011, 08:32 PM   #10
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you see, my bracket isn't as high tech as yous guys. Its a Custom bracket Folding S...Im trying to learn how to properly use a flash. Ive started to read the same about what you do Aloha, with setting everything to manual. I know for me, it takes a couple minutes to get everything right, but im sure the more I do it, the faster ill be. Is there anyway for me to "upgrade" my bracket by adding a rotator or is my only option from this one is to find another bracket with rotator built in? I really like the idea of keeping the flash horizontal and not vertical. Does it make any difference if the flash does end up vertical but still centered above camera on a bracket? thanks guys!
10-10-2011, 11:16 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bear Quote
you see, my bracket isn't as high tech as yous guys. Its a Custom bracket Folding S...Im trying to learn how to properly use a flash. Ive started to read the same about what you do Aloha, with setting everything to manual. I know for me, it takes a couple minutes to get everything right, but im sure the more I do it, the faster ill be. Is there anyway for me to "upgrade" my bracket by adding a rotator or is my only option from this one is to find another bracket with rotator built in? I really like the idea of keeping the flash horizontal and not vertical. Does it make any difference if the flash does end up vertical but still centered above camera on a bracket? thanks guys!
In terms of flash mode setting, for now, let's just use p-TTL. The nice thing about p-TTL is that in general, the flash and the camera take care of the exposure so you can concentrate on other things.

For events, because there is little time to think and change the camera and flash settings, I normally use high ISO (400 or 800), and if at all possible, larger aperture (minimal F/5.6, mostly F/8 or F/11) for DOF. I also set shutter speed as low as possible (1/30 or 1/60). These settings allow as much ambient light as possible, resulting in better photos and shorter flash cycle time.

Most of the time I use a Metz 54MZ-4 or a Pentax 540, either with a Sto-fen and tilt up 45 or 60 degrees, unless when I need to reach far, the flash head will be straight forward with no diffuser.

I can see a few challenges with the Pentax 360:

1. It's not that powerful. A diffuser robs about 2 stops of light. You can set high ISO (800, 1000) to work around this, and deal with noise later in post processing.

2. The head does not swivel. In landscape format, you can tilt the head up, but in portrait format, with the limitation of the Folding S bracket, you have to shoot with the head straight forward. (that answers your question, " Does it make any difference if the flash does end up vertical but still centered above camera on a bracket?" - It makes a difference only when you want to tilt the flash head up).

I don't think trying to bounce the flash is a good idea. Most of the time, you don't have a good surface to bounce the flash against.
10-11-2011, 05:18 AM   #12
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If you are happy with your camera's quality at ISO 400 or 800, you can bounce just about any room with an AF540, especially if you can use wireless or a low-profile hot shoe adapter and incorporate on-camera flash as fill. If you use P-TTL, watch out for the white dresses.
10-11-2011, 09:58 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
If you are happy with your camera's quality at ISO 400 or 800, you can bounce just about any room with an AF540, ....
The most recent wedding reception I attended was at a vineyard. The walls of the ballroom were covered with wine barrels; the ceiling with exposed beams was stained a dark brown color.
10-11-2011, 07:53 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by SOldBear Quote
The most recent wedding reception I attended was at a vineyard. The walls of the ballroom were covered with wine barrels; the ceiling with exposed beams was stained a dark brown color.
I did say "just about." That might be one for the bracket.

Still, I've bounced in venues with high ceilings that I would not have thought would work. This one, for example. Not a great composition, but it is one of the few that shows what kind of a barn this was, but the lighting worked with one bounced AF540 at ISO 400 F/5.6.
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Last edited by GeneV; 10-12-2011 at 03:48 PM.
10-12-2011, 01:16 PM   #15
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thanks for the help guys, you gave me an idea of where to start
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