Cheap Phoenix Ring Flash even worth it? Macros and Semi-Close indoor subjects.

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by jtice, Mar 27, 2007.

  1. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    I am not sure what you call this type of photography...
    I do alot of indoor shots of various products.
    Knives, Flashlights, Tools, Electronics, etc.

    I have been experimenting with different lighting techniques, but none seem to do exactly what I need.
    I noticed that when I used a slave flash the color was much better, and it has good detail, but I can get a bit of glare, and harsh lighting.
    I have tried 1500W+ of halogen lighting, but the shots always seem to have some noise to them, and WB is always tough.
    I did get some of my better shots with it, due to there being so much light.
    But I find fixed lighting to be a pain, as I love to be more free, and not HAVE to use a tripod.
    Thats what I liked so much about flashes.

    I also want to start doing more macros,
    and I noticed that just about any lighting I tried, came out uneven due to the camera being so close, and blocking the light.
    And the builtin flash is naturally useless this close.

    So, I was thinking of getting a Ring Flash, and trying that out.
    But I wasnt sure if it was good for only Macros, or if it would work for this sorta thing.
    I am also on a budget, as I just dropped a large amount getting my 30D. (due any day now!)
    While I would hope it will make cleaner shots, I figure my lighting still needs work.
    Here is a cheap one I was thinking of trying out.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...s&Q=&sku=157349&is=REG&addedTroughType=search
    Would it even be worth it?

    Here is just one of the setups I have been trying.
    And yes, I also tried shining the lights through the sheet also, but it just made it dimmer.
    Its not so much that it needed defused, its that it wasnt hitting the subject from all angles.
    This setup had a few 5200K Spiral bulbs.
    i even tried bouncing that large 35W HID light in there also.
    [​IMG]

    Would I be able to use just a couple hundred watts of fixed lighting, and a ring flash to do these shots?
    I am typically about 6" to 24" from the subject.

    I also need to look into macro lens I think, but I am taking it one step at a time. :confused:
    but, I dont THINK I really NEED macro lens for this.

    Any advice would be great, thanks
    ~John
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Are you mixing continuous lights and flash? I wouldn't bother, not for this type of thing. You said that shooting the light though the fabric just made if dimmer...but it also made it more diffuse (soft). The dimness shouldn't matter because you should be shooting on a tripod and you can use a longer shutter speed because neither the camera or the subject will be moving.

    If you do want to go with flash/strobe...then use only flash/strobe.
     
  3. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    I can understand not mixing the lighting.
    When I used the flash, the continuous lights were really only on to help me and the camera see to focus.

    I would rather use flash only if I can, I like the freedom it seems to give me.
    I dont like to use a tripod unless I have to, as I find it hard to get just the right angle/orientation I want to the subject.
    Using the flash seems much more free and creative for that.

    If I do decide to go all flash, would something like the Phoenix Ring Flash I linked to work well?
    Or should I not even bother unless I spend a few hundred? :(
    If its output was smooth, and plenty bright for about 4 feet and under, it seems it might be what I need.

    IF it would work, I would like to use a ring flash, and maybe one or two other slave flashes.


    ~John
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I've never used a macro ring light, but it looks like it would work well.
     
  5. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Mixing flash and hot lights really doesn't work. The flash is so much more powerful, it will normally blow out any effect from the hot lights. The reason you have glare is that you are using the light tent improperly. The idea is to use the lights to light the tent which, in turn, lights the subject. You have the subject inside the tent but you have lights applied directly on the subject, not the tent.

    Here's the way to use the light tent. Ignore the flash head that is closest to the viewer. It isn't turned on. The two lighting the tent are the issue.

    The cheap ring light will probably work fine. It just won't be as durable and reliable as a better one.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    Nice setup you have there.

    Yes, I realize that the lights should be shown THROUGH the material,
    but I was using a typical white bed sheet, and it seemed to do more harm than good, by blocking too much light.
    I was using it as a way to bounce the light around a bit.

    Even in your setup, I dont see how the front, front/bottom of your subjects are being lit well.
    As most the light is on the sides.
    This seems to be one of my biggest issues.

    I still have a few ideas,
    I was thinking of positioning the sheet over the table more, and bouncing the flash off it.

    ~John
     
  7. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    All the light is on the sides. The purpose of the light tent is to enlarge the light source. It diffuses the light evenly despite the direction of the source. Bed sheets aren't reflectors. This shot was made with the setup pictured above. Lit well enough for you?

    [​IMG]
     
  8. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    I donno Fred, I can allllmost see some shadow there. ;)
    Looks great, thats what I am after.

    I need to rethink the setup, I just through it together.
    I need to find a better white material to use also.
    Think I saw once that you could buy the material they use for light boxes.
    I may just end up buying a light box, but I sometimes take photos of larger items, like firearms, that wouldnt fit.

    ~John
     
  9. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The shadow is there on purpose. The light from the left is set to higher output than the one from the right. The sheet will work fine. Many, many light tents have been made from sheets. The light tent you see in the image was $45 from B&H. Of course there are larger ones. I once shot an RV using a parachute canopy as a light tent. Size shouldn't be an issue. Take care.
     
  10. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the tips!

    Yea, I was kidding about the shadow ;)
    Without it, I figure the edge would be TOO defined, especially for the blades edge.

    I am going to rearrange things this week,
    try shooting a couple slave flashes through the sheet.

    ~John
     

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