Recommendations for flash (or litepanel) / ND filter for travel photography

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by AfroKen, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. AfroKen

    AfroKen TPF Noob!

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    I am interested in getting a couple of things, and do primarily travel photography (so think lightweight, easy to manage, sturdy - I backpack through the Himalayas, Peru/Ecuador, Africa, etc.):

    1. What would you recommend for a flash for a Nikon D50 (and a D90, as I intend on purchasing a D90 from you in the next few months), bearing in mind that I do a fair amount of travel photography and want something that is durable, flexible, and lightweight? And what sort of diffusor would you recommend with that? I do realize that this is rather vague, but I have never owned a flash other than the built-in pop-up flash, so I'm not sure what to ask.

    I am interested in the Litepanel Micro, which is a little over $300, but am concerned about the reviews stating that it has a flimsy shoe mount. But it's lightweight, portable, and gives off almost no heat, I can see what I'm going to be shooting, and I can use it off-mount. Any real-world reviews or alternatives to this?

    2. I am interested in experimenting with ND filters, but have never used one before. I'd be interested in them for longer exposure shots, and especially in a graduated ND filter for darkening skies. And yes, I realize that this may be two separate ND filters.

    Nikon D50 (hopefully soon a D90)
    AF-S 18-200mm Nikkor f/3.5-5.6G ED DX VR
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    For a flash, I'd suggest the SB600. With a little creativity, it could probably do anything you want it to do.

    ND filters can be useful for long exposure shots. As for what strength to get, it's hard to say. Keep in mind that you can stack it with other filters to block more light. I will often stack one over a circular polarizer, which is almost always on my lens when shooting outdoors. If you don't already have a Circular polarizer, that is the one filter that I would recommend above all others. Especially for landscape/travel photography.

    As for graduated filters....they are handy, but I think they are just about obsolete because of how easy it is to apply a similar effect in post and/or combine multiple exposures. Plus, they are all a flat gradient. How many Himalayan landscapes have you seen with a flat horizon? ;)
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Here is an excellent article about filters, from a guy who has backpacked all over the entire world Filters by Thom Hogan

    The LED light...hmmm...it's not a flash, but a constant light. I read the reviews at Adorama,and owners seem to say it is very weak, and also built rather flimsily. It is not a flash unit, so it would allow you to shoot at different shutter speeds and still get eye catchlights, but it would also lack motion-stopping ability that flash has. I'm not too sure about this accessory.

    A diffuser for a small speedlight flash is really *not* that great an accessory; beyond 10 feet, the flash with or without the diffuser is about the same hardness. For macro shots, a Sto-Fen is an okay diffuser, but I prefer the small Photoflex mini-softbox with SC-17 or SC-28 TTL remote cord.
     
  4. AfroKen

    AfroKen TPF Noob!

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    Cool, thanks. Someone else recommended the Bower SFD926N as well, a more traditional flash. I know nothing about that.

    I have one and it is wonderful for outdoor photography. I have it on most of the time as well.

    Not so many, and this has definitely crossed my mind. Even my shots in Death Valley rarely had a flat horizon.

    Do you have a particular manufacturer of ND filters that you would recommend? Thanks.
     
  5. AfroKen

    AfroKen TPF Noob!

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    I was wondering if anyone was familiar with the Bower SFD926N flash, and how it compared to the SB-600. Thank you very much!
     
  6. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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  7. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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  8. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    A set of ND and Graduated ND filters is a very good idea. I like Cokin myself, especially with the graduated filters because you can place it where you want, unlike a screw on type.

    COKIN Creative System - The Holder System

    I went with the pro holder so that it will fit the most lenses possible.


    I do have an idea for a flash but what will you be using it for? None of your photos I have seen would ever use a flash so I'm kind of wondering before making a recommendation.
     
  9. AfroKen

    AfroKen TPF Noob!

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    Well, you're right, much of my photography doesn't use one!! :D

    However, there are some photos on kenleephotography.com, such as concert photos, that do use flashes, though, and the built-in flash is obviously not the greatest. I'd use it for taking photos of bands in small dark clubs, indoors in relatively well-lit places such as large banquet halls and so forth, and as a fill light for travel photography as well as any indoor things that I might do.

    And I would obviously want something simple and lightweight because of traveling. I want something that is wireless even though I've never done that yet...I just want that option.

    Flash photography is a new world for me, as I've experimented very little with it. I definitely know that I want a diffusor, but eventually, I think I may also want to experiment with various gels and things like that.

    Anyway, I hope this info helps somewhat. Thanks for your time. It's greatly appreciated...and thank you to everyone else who has answered as well!!!
     
  10. AfroKen

    AfroKen TPF Noob!

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    Thanks! Those are good reviews, and if it does indeed do everything that the SB-600 does, maybe I can save some coin.
     
  11. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Well, I'm a big Metz fan since that is what I lugged around the world without once having a problem. And they did take a beating...

    Both of mine are of the "handle" variety because I find it easier to hold when doing off camera work. Great recycling time which is very nice when doing multiple flash bursts to light large areas.

    The only problem is that they are not light. Mine weighs in at 1.2 lb without the bracket.

    Here's the current model closest to what I have:
    Metz | Mecablitz 45 Series CL-1-N Auto Handle Mount | MZ 45012

    They do have TTL models too. Cheers.
     

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