Help Me Pick a Flash!

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by elemental, Dec 7, 2008.

  1. elemental

    elemental TPF Noob!

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    For some time I've been meaning to pick up a half-decent flash unit and have a go at the Strobist thing. People photography is one of the last areas I've hesitated to try, mostly because of the equipment required to do off-camera lighting right. Well, I talked to a friend today who admires my photography, and she happens to be A) ordering some, well, fairly revealing clothing items, B) interested in "messing around" with some photos, and C) very attractive. Obviously, my interest in trying some off-camera light is piqued again. My question is this: What would you recommend for a very inexpensive (as inexpensive as possible, really) flash unit? I use a Pentax K100D along with some older K-mount 35mm bodies, and I have no interest in proprietary TTL-type systems or any of that fancy stuff. I need a flash that has decent, variable output and can be acquired very inexpensively through eBay or KEH (or any other means short of outright theft. Actually, I might consider that too). I will cobble together an improvised and probably dangerous triggering system to go along with whatever I end up with, so the real issue is the flash.

    Any thoughts? I like the Vivitar 285HV, but I think I can go cheaper. The Sunpak 544 seems to have everything I need and is extremely inepensive, but the handle-mount thing is ghetto (hey, cheapskates can't be choosers, so if this is my best option, I'll gladly get the Visa out). The 383 also seems solid, but I am not seeing those in the same price range as the 544s. Any other thoughts?
     
  2. elemental

    elemental TPF Noob!

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    Well, a little more research, and the 283, 285's grandaddy, is cheaper and similar. It will probably not be safe to shoe mount on the K100D, but getting away from that was the point anyway. Any thoughts on this guy?
     
  3. frXnz kafka

    frXnz kafka TPF Noob!

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    Pick up a Nikon SB-24 or SB-28 for about $70.
     
  4. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    283's are great for the price. They were going for about $35 last time I checked.

    You'll need a stand, an umbrella, an umbrella adapter, and a way to trigger it.

    Then you're going to be working with one light. Maybe something to help fill. You can buy those sunscreens that go in a car's windshield for less than $5. That or get an actual set of reflectors.
     
  5. elemental

    elemental TPF Noob!

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    I think the 283 is what I'm going to go with. The old SBs are tempting, but I'd rather have two 283s (or almost three instead of one 285HV). I plan on ordering one in the next few days. My other concern is triggering- since the 283 is old school with its massive trigger voltage, I need to avoid any direct connection with my camera, so it looks like some Poverty Wizards straight from Hong Kong are my best bet. You know you're a college student when you're looking for cheaper versions of Cactus triggers.

    I think I am going to go ghetto with the stands and diffusers for the time being- $5 tripod that I never use, packing tape, and a sheet anyone? I will definitely try to find some of those sunscreens at Wal-Mart- I have seen impressive results using those. If not, I'll go for the old cardboard and aluminum foil trick. As time goes on, I plan on adding more credible equipment, but for now I think I'll improvise. I plan on buying the two receiver set, so I can add another $35 strobe and have a two light system. My only concern is that once I have two I'll want three, and those eBay systems aren't exactly easy to add to. . . . Maybe I'll order the three receiver version. . .
     

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