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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Lighting suggestions

    I was goofing around on the weekend with some macro shooting in my office and realize I really need something more than my poor little SB-400. Buying a couple speedlights just isn't an option right now, but I see there are a few reasonably inexpensive options on eBay. These mostly involve LED lights blasting through an umbrella or softbox, or shooting into a reflective umbrella. Are these types of options worth getting into, or should I just grab my 500W halogen work lights from the shop and figure out some way to diffuse the light until I can afford a couple more speedlights and softboxes?

    Thanks in advance.

    Rod
    Critique most definitely desired...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Rod, what's not working with the way you are using the SB-400?

    If you are shooting indoors then there is no reason not to use any light you have. To make the light soft and diffuse all you need to do is put some translucent fabric between your light and the subject. The closer the fabric is to the subject the softer your light will be.
    _______________
    Nikon D3, D300, F-100, 10.5 Fisheye, 35 f/1.4, 50 f/1.4, 85 f/1.4, Zeiss 100 f/2, 105 f/2.5, 200 f/4 Micro, 200 f/2 VR, 300 f/2.8 AF-S II, 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8, SU-800, SB-900, 4xSB-800, 1.4x and 1.7x TC
    (2) Profoto Acute 2400 packs w/4 heads, Chimera Boxes

  3. #3
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    Rich,

    With the SB-400, when bouncing light off the ceiling, I'm having to use fairly slow shutter speeds (3 - 6 seconds) to get an adequate exposure at smaller apertures. With longer exposures, even using Mup, it seems like my shots aren't quite as crisp and sharp as they normally are. It may be my Velbon Sherpa isn't quite stable enough, even though I try not to move a muscle after pulling the trigger. I thought about a flash diffuser so I could light things up a little more direct, but I read a fair bit of negative about them so I wasn't sure if that was an acceptable route. Also thinking that having some extra lighting around wouldn't be a bad idea for portraits of my wife and kids....

    Rod
    Last edited by DiamondSCattleCo; 06-18-2012 at 05:10 AM.
    Critique most definitely desired...

  4. #4
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    NY
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    Try not bouncing the light off the ceiling and just shooting your subject thru a piece of white fabric. What shutter speed are you shooting at? You should be at 1/125 to 1/250th and you won't be recording much with ambient light.

    Is your SB-400 mounted on your camera or have you moved it off camera with a sync cable or remote trigger?
    _______________
    Nikon D3, D300, F-100, 10.5 Fisheye, 35 f/1.4, 50 f/1.4, 85 f/1.4, Zeiss 100 f/2, 105 f/2.5, 200 f/4 Micro, 200 f/2 VR, 300 f/2.8 AF-S II, 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8, SU-800, SB-900, 4xSB-800, 1.4x and 1.7x TC
    (2) Profoto Acute 2400 packs w/4 heads, Chimera Boxes

  5. #5
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    I think with the flash pointed directly at the subject, at f/16 I was able to shoot at 1/250th, but don't quote me on that. I'll give it a shot with the white fabric one of these days when I have time again. I'm shooting with the SB400 on camera, since I don't have a sync cable. I think I'm going to snag a cable to move it off camera and see what that does for me. I'm thinking if I have it well above the subject, pointed down, it would help. I've got a couple el-cheapo tripods around here that I can mount it to.

    Thanks for the help, Rich.

    Rod
    Critique most definitely desired...

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Location
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    Rod- I think you'll notice a major improvement when you get your light off axis. If you've got one of those shop lights I'd try it behind a piece of material to diffuse the light.
    _______________
    Nikon D3, D300, F-100, 10.5 Fisheye, 35 f/1.4, 50 f/1.4, 85 f/1.4, Zeiss 100 f/2, 105 f/2.5, 200 f/4 Micro, 200 f/2 VR, 300 f/2.8 AF-S II, 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8, SU-800, SB-900, 4xSB-800, 1.4x and 1.7x TC
    (2) Profoto Acute 2400 packs w/4 heads, Chimera Boxes

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichNY View Post
    If you've got one of those shop lights I'd try it behind a piece of material to diffuse the light.
    Yep, I got em. Now I've got to find something in the wifes drawers that she won't miss anytime soon, especially if it starts on fire. Those 500 watt halogens run HOT.

    So I take it you're not a fan of the inexpensive umbrellas or softboxes?

    Rod
    Critique most definitely desired...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Wisconsin
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    2,929
    Rod, I use cheetah q box softboxes with my Nikon flashes for all my out of studio lighting. I think you'll notice a huge improvement with something like this....

    http://www.cheetahstand.com/servlet/...qbox%2C/Detail

    They come in 16" and 24"
    Jason

    "A coward dies a thousand deaths, a soldier dies but once."-2Pac


    A bunch of Nikon stuff!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Adelaide, South Australia
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    378
    If you want macro photos of small objects (watches, jewellery, non-moving insects, etc.), then an inexpensive light tent is ideal. You can use natural light or external lights for illumination. A shutter speed of several seconds may be required, depending on the aperture chosen, in which case use the remote release or self-timer to trigger the shutter rather than pressing the shutter button. This will minimise any vibrations and assist with image sharpness.

    The SB-400 is a great little flash for portraits and general family photos, especially when there is a low, white-painted ceiling available to bounce the flash. However, its asset of small size is a drawback when you want to illuminate larger areas, and it can't be used wirelessly if you want to use it off-camera. The SB-700 is far more powerful and versatile, and seems to be available at very good prices right now (the lowest I've seen is AU$243 here in Australia). Since I acquired my SB-700 and appreciated what it can do, I'm afraid my SB-400 has languished somewhat. Its small size still makes it handy for travel, though.
    Nikon D7000 and a bunch of Nikon stuff oh, and some Canon p&s's too

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Hmmmm, I like those Cheetah boxes, Jason. I wonder if the bracket would allow them to get low enough for my little SB-400, or if its something that'll have to wait until I step up to big boy flashes?

    Thanks for all the info everyone, its appreciated. Since I had some eBay bucks burning a hole in my pocket I did decide to try out an on-flash diffuser for giggles (for 2 bucks its worth a shot), but I'll grab my work lights from the shop next time I'm going to do some staged shooting.

    And like you say Les, I'll get some 700s (or 600s if I can find them) next time the budget allows for it). I see there are also plans for a DIY light tent that I may try out. Since the wife won't let me use any of her translucent white things for diffusing my work lights, I've got to buy some fabric in town, so I'll get enough for a tent too...

    Rod
    Critique most definitely desired...

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