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08-30-2011, 12:07 AM   #1
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FLASH BLOCKED BY LENS. Ugly shadow created. WORK-AROUNDS?

I read the similar threads but none of them specifically answered my question. I was VERY disappointed today when my new Tamron 18-200mm lens created ugly flash shadows in my night pictures.
I understand why. I also own a GREAT external flash that I LOVE to use, however, the entire reason I got this super-zoom lens was so I could "lighten my load" at Walt Disney World. We go there 3-4 times a year. Anyone who has been to Disney knows the more you carry = the less fun. You have to lug it ALL DAY and night, and you will walk many miles a day there. So light is better.
Before I was taking my Pentax K-X with the kit 18-55, and I would carry the 100-300 in my cargo shorts lower pocket. The problem was it would make my leg sore, it was constantly getting bumped, and it posed issues on the roller-coasters. AS DOES THE EXTERNAL FLASH. I'm a gear nut too, but I like to travel light at Disney.
Here's my core question... It seems there would be a way to create something that would direct a smaller amount of light from the on-camera flash to the affected area. It wouldn't have to be PERFECT, just better than it is. I can picture some pro with some dental mirror / aluminum foil trick that he figured out through good old trial and error.

The lens hood was OFF, so the flash shadow is just from the lens. I like using natural light, but at Disney your often fighting crowds, squirming children, and lack of stabilization. A tripod would work great with no flash in many situations, but that takes time, and a tripod is another of those things I dont want to carry into the parks.

Im not big into processing or cropping after the picture either, and Id prefer my pics without that ugly shadow.

What would work great would be something small and rugged that would direct just enough light over the lens to help hide some of the lens shadow. That or a very low and lightweight flash that's hardly even noticible on the camera.

Anyone have any friendly suggestions?

08-30-2011, 12:11 AM   #2
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There's nothing a little perseverance, smarts, and plenty of ordinary house hold materials cannot fix

my macro rig at any one point in time has at least three rubber bands, several things of tape, etc. etc. on it. I had problems with lighting so I created solutions. I think the best solution would be for you to do the same Get some creativity going!
08-30-2011, 12:46 AM   #3
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I woudl suggest to consider a homemade diffuser that you would set on and around the in-camera flash. It may be a piece of cardboard or a pice of plastic and duct tape.

As yeatzee indicated, you may need to experiment a little bit.

Hope that the comment will help....
08-30-2011, 01:23 AM   #4
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Find an old white translucent plastic film canister - I think they were Fujifilm.

Cut a little rectangle slot in the side wall of the canister with a hobby knife, just large enough to slot onto the flash. - this works as a cheap diffuser for a sto-fen style effect. Not sure if it would work with the 18-200, but it has improved results for my 10-20, which is both larger diameter and much wider...
Obviously, it also reduces the light output of your flash, so you have to factor that in and use a wider aperture too.\

Anything that increases the area of the light will work too, such as dangling a white handkerchief in front of the flash - but it's a bit hit and miss. There are 'professional' pop up flash diffusers you could buy. Try a google.

08-30-2011, 02:59 AM   #5
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I just happen to have a photo of the cut out film canister at work. Not sure if it will totally fix the problem on a long lens, but cheap and worth a try.

08-30-2011, 03:06 AM   #6
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Instead of a diffuser, I'd be tempted to try a short snoot first, just enough to have the flash output clear the lens. If the light ends up being too harsh, you can then rig up a diffuser, but I don't think it will be noticeably worse than the unmodified flash.
08-30-2011, 03:53 AM   #7
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Here are a couple websites that may have something you are looking for.

DIY Lighting Hacks for Digital Photographers
From Paper To RingFlash In Few Easy Steps | DIYPhotography.net

Hope you get an idea for what your looking for


Delia
08-30-2011, 04:01 AM   #8
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If you want to get really primitive, cheap and compact, you can fold an ordinary sheet of typing paper into a box that sits over the pop-up flash. It helps a lot, and can fold flat when not in use. It won't take a lot of abuse, you'll find you're making a new one every so often, but until you find something better... And, if you find you're getting blinded by it, you can use some electrical tape to black out the back of the box.

If you'd prefer to buy something, here are three cheap universal pop-up flash diffusers here, here and here. I've used the first type in a shop, and it seemed effective. I didn't try the coloured diffusers that come with it. The second one looks effective, but fragile. The third has the advantage of folding flat for your pocket.

08-30-2011, 05:35 AM   #9
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I think your best solution will be to extend your zoom and shoot from a greater distance. You'll have to experiment to find out what focal length will be right for you. Perhaps you could hang a head-sized target on a wall & take a series of flash photos at different focal lengths & distances until you find out what works.

I can't imagine an easy-to-carry-and-use-at-an-amusement-park DIY periscope arrangement* that'll fit over your pop-up flash.

Dave

* in order to avoid the lens shadow you must either move the flash up or increase the distance to the subject. Adding a small diffuser to the flash won't increase its effective height much.

Last edited by newarts; 08-30-2011 at 05:48 AM.
08-30-2011, 05:41 AM   #10
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Hi

Just be careful with the home made diffusers, I got a very bad flash in my eye from the Film Canister one. Took a few weeks for it to get back to normal !
Just as dangerous as a welding flash.
08-30-2011, 07:51 AM   #12
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Not exactly what you are looking for but I use an old Pentax manual flash in that situation. It is quite small compared to the modern tilt head, all options, automatic flashes and is easy to carry. It is just tall enough to clear the bigger lenses and has a larger flash head than the built-in one.

I use the Metz 48 when I know I am going to be using flash all the time and a Pentax AF200T when I just want a little fill without carrying the big flash gun.

Be careful with home made modifiers. I learned the hard way that even the built in flash packs a lot of power. I was using a piece of translucent paper around the built in flash as a diffuser and after about 15 shots noticed a burning smell. The flash scorched the paper and it was smoking. Never got to the point of open flame but it scared me enough not to do that again.
08-30-2011, 08:04 AM   #13
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I don't think these diffusers are solutions to his issue.

Perhaps look for an inexpensive, smaller external flash. There are a few that are about the size of the palm of your hand. This would probably elevate your lighting passed the end of the lens and be small enough to fit in a pocket or leave it mounted. Have a look around the reviews section for the smaller flash units.

Or shoot your scenes a little wider and crop out the lower part of the picture in shadow.

What is the extended length of your lens? Using a slightly physically shorter lens is out of the question?
08-30-2011, 06:28 PM   #14
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I don't think anything short of an external flash will help much.

Remember that some of the old 2AA flashes aren't compatible with newer digital cameras without some current protection.

Paul
08-30-2011, 06:48 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
I don't think anything short of an external flash will help much
I've had similar issues using external flash and tamron 17-55...

QuoteOriginally posted by newarts Quote
I think your best solution will be to extend your zoom and shoot from a greater distance.
And depending on the shot... I agree

Shots pointing down (at the kid) are usually the problem in my case... Greater distance at Disneyland probably not going to happen...

QuoteOriginally posted by bobpur Quote
Just be careful with the home made diffusers, I got a very bad flash in my eye from the Film Canister one
Black 'gaffa' (I think it's marketed as 'Duct' in the US) stuck round the back half, including sides (top and bottom) of the film can...
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