Looking to get into the whole "Strobist" thing...

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by pm63, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. pm63

    pm63 TPF Noob!

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    [I know there are many threads on this and yes I have searched, but I wanted some specific info on my situation.]

    I'm a landscaper and I never planned on shooting people, but for some reason that is starting to change. I thought about saving my money for an ultra wide zoom as I really need one, but I won't be able to afford one for a while, so I'm getting a Strobist kit.

    I have a Nikon D40 and shoot with the 18-55 kit for now, but might at some point get a 50mm 1.8.

    The kit I'm considering is the Starving Student SW1 kit from Mpex. I'll have to find out shipping costs, but I don't think there is any way I could get such a kit in the UK for as low a price... used 285HV's on eBay here go for as much as Mpex sells them new, for example. I've heard of complaints about Mpex though, anyone know if they've improved?

    Is this a good kit to get? Is the 285 good or am I limiting myself with such a budget strobe? What kind of recycling times can I expect? The D40 has 1/500 flash sync., will the 285 keep up or will it be limited to 1/200 or something similar as it is a budget strobe?

    Also, I know that the Cactus triggers are not supposed to be as reliabe as PWs... what does this mean in practice? Are they prone to regularly failing and would you advise two pairs just in case?

    How soon will I need to get into using a second flash? (probably a stupid question)

    Finally, do you think I will get stung on import tax amd how much could this ammount to when importing from the US?

    I know there are a lot of questions there, but any advice would be appreciated. :thumbup:
     
  2. frXnz kafka

    frXnz kafka TPF Noob!

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    With the D40 the limiting factor on your sync speed will actually be your wireless triggers. The D40 can sync up to it's max shutter speed (1/4000 or 1/8000), but even Pocket Wizards can only sync up to 1/1000. The only way to get the extra 2 or 3 stops is to use a PC cord.

    The Cactuses are decent triggers. I use them, and while they don't fire 100% of the time I'm not in a situation where that is a problem. Google "cactus trigger mods" to find some mods that will improve performance. And if they are DOA, go to the Strobist group on Flickr to figure out what might be wrong with them before sending them back. The Cactus triggers will probably limit you to 1/200 or 1/250 for sync speed, just because they aren't designed to sync faster than that. If you do find yourself need faster shutter speeds you might want to look into the Alienbees CyberSyncs, the max sync on those may be faster, and they're not too expensive.

    I've never used the Vivitar 285, so I can't give you any advice on that. I use old Nikon speedlights (SB-24 and SB-28) which I paid about $80 for each. I think the only major issue you'll run into with the Vivitar is the size of the head. A lot of light modifiers designed for speedlights won't fit on the Vivitar, and Rosco swatchbook filters will be too small.

    I've gone through MPEX only once, for filters and one of my Cactus recievers, and had not problems. I think you'll find a lot of good things to say about them on the Strobist Flickr group.
     
  3. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  4. Warren_G

    Warren_G TPF Noob!

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    For the same price, I ordered the portrait kit from gadgetinfinity.com and got 2 of the Vivitar 285HVs, as well as 2 V2s cactus triggers, 2 mini diffusers, and a stroboframe. The umbrella and lightstands are very cheap to add after the fact, but if you want 2 for the price of 1, check out gadgetinfinity
    As for the cactus triggers, have a look at Jerry's mod of improving the antenna and battery packs, he has claimed very reliable performance from them, and convinced me to take the plunge.
     
  5. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I don't think the OP was meaning that the strobist was for landscapes. I think the OP meant that landscapes were what he normally shot and was branching out to people photography. Hence the strobist kit. I think.
     
  6. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I use the Strobist method heavily and will second the opinion on used Nikon SB-24/28's. I started with Sunpack 383's at about $65 each at the time. I now use Nikon 2 SB-28's and 2 SB-80DX's. They were all purchased for under $80 ea. There durability is far greater than the Vivitar or Sunpack versions IMHO. Another advantage to these Nikon flashes, they use the same flash modifiers as the SB-800 such as the Gary Fong tupperware bowls and they use the same high voltage port and cables as the SB-800 allowing you to use Nikon's SD-8 or Quantum Turbo packs without buying a seperate cords.

    As for Mpex, I have purchased from them since 2002 all the ink and most the paper for our 2 Epson 2200's, several Pocket Wizards, and many other Strobist style stuff. I have never had an issue with him. On the phone he is a little essentric, but I always got what I ordered quickly at a fair price. Can't expect much more than that.
     
  7. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Ah... i think you are right...
     
  8. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've seen some really cool photos of landscapes done strobist too!

    Flashes with different colored gels scattered about at night works pretty well. You can really accentuate different aspects of the landscaping or even architecture.
     
  9. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I recently bought my last set of additional Cactus receivers/transmitters from MPEX. Shipping was a little slow, but I got it and at the price advertised. Shipping/handling was a little more expensive than I would have liked... and that was just to Canada.

    It is good for a beginner. I've seen some really nice pics done with a single strobe. Matter of fact, to start out with, even if you buy 6 of them, I suggest using only 1 for a while and learning.

    Depends on batteries used and power output. Expect 1-4 seconds in between shots... I think that is reasonable to say.

    A flash occurs in the thousands of a second. If your NATIVE sync speed is 1/500th, you will be able to sync at 1/500th, but in the real world, you REALLY won't need it that often. 90% of my flash shots are taken at 1/125th and lower. You will learn why as you gain experience.

    It means that if you do not modify them, they are limited to around 30 feet before they start failing. You can modify them for VERY little money and raise range to well over 350 feet (100+ meters).

    You answered that one yourself... lol
    Maybe never... maybe right off the bat.
    Start with one, it is a good place to start from and before adding a 2nd flash, maybe make yourself a nice cheap reflector.

    I live in Canada, so do not know. Ask the local post office and perhaps MPEX. I heard that it can be as much as 50% of the value of the items, but I have no way to verify this. You'll have to do the homework on this one yourself, unfortunately.
     
  10. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I hope so. If not then I want to know the answer to your question as well.:D
     
  11. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think he meant that in the past, he was a landscape shooter and now wants to get into off camera flash photography, not that he would necessarily use flashes to light a landscape. :)
     
  12. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Vivitar 283's are about $35 used on E-bay. They're not really "budget" flashes. A Quantaray flash is budget.

    MPEX is awesome. They said they would replace a defective Vivitar 285HV about 6 months after I purchased it.
     

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