Which flash / bracket to buy for my D80?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Jon_Are, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    Here's the situation: Most of my photography is outdoors, but I'm thinking I need a decent flash for the occasional indoor snapshot-y pictures I take. I'm certainly not looking for anything approaching professional equipment; just something to put a nice, soft light on the subjects. With the pop-up flash I always get a harsh, ugly shadow.

    First question: do I need some sort of bracket to get the flash off-camera? Or would bouncing the flash work well enough?

    Do I need some sort of diffuser attachment? (I was at a wedding recently and the photographers used some puffy, white chef's-hat looking thing over the flash and pointed upward).

    With a bracket, I guess I need some sort of cord attaching the flash to the camera?

    If someone could provide a direct link or two for any of these (bracket, cord, diffuser) I would very much appreciate it.

    Thanks,

    Jon
     
  2. tsaraleksi

    tsaraleksi TPF Noob!

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    Bracketing the flash is important for event photography but for snapshot type stuff or whatever, I think you'll be fine just bouncing a bare flash. This is a situation where your best bet is to get it piece by piece and figure out what you're missing.
     
  3. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    Sounds reasonable, tsarelski.

    Thanks for the response.

    Jon
     
  4. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The D80 has Commander mode which means you can use the SB-600 wirelessly straight out of the box. It has a pivoting and rotating flash head so you should be able to find a surface to bounce off of. This is a very good flash and uses Nikon's CLS lighting system. It comes with a flip down wide angle diffuser and a cold shoe stand.

    It also looks like B&H has dropped the price about $7-8.
     
  5. Big Mike

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

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    Bouncing the flash is usually the best/easiest way to improve the light (besides actually getting the flash off of the camera).

    A bracket is most useful for keeping the flash above the camera, even when you rotate the camera to portrait orientation. Probably not necessary for "snapshot-y" type stuff ;).

    There are a bunch of flash accessories available, I'm guessing that you saw someone using the Gary Fong Lightsphere. All of the flash accessories have strengths and weaknesses...some are better for certain situations and useless for others. That being said, it's not always clear when they are useful or not, and I see a lot of Pro photographers using them in situations where it doesn't make sense.

    The point of the story, is that you probably shouldn't run out and get a flash accessory until you know when & where it will help. You may find that bouncing the flash is enough.
     
  6. tsaraleksi

    tsaraleksi TPF Noob!

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    What I've seen with the LightSpheres is that the people who use them swear by them, but everyone else makes fun of them. I have not seen much explanation of what makes them $100 better than an omnibounce, and rather more importantly I have never really felt a crucial need for an omnibounce type of product. I have had a lot of success with a bare bounced flash and bounce card that is built into my 580EX. Moreso, however, if I can, I'll set up some kind of off camera bouncing strobes-- big lights pointed at the ceiling that give you a huge amount of clean, bright light that don't have draging recycle times. However, that's not really practical for the snapshot type of photo.

    More on brackets: Brackets are heavy and a pain. They are very useful for what they do, which is get the flash off-axis and therefore cut down on red eye and give you shadows that are below the subject, rather than directly behind. At the same time, they let you move the flash so that it stays above the camera when you are shooting vertically, which saves you the weird sideways shadows that are an unpleasant result of shooting with the flash from the side (an odd side note is that you can create really weird looking images with a bracketed flash configured for vertical but held on its side-- the light comes from below the lens, giving you a bizzare, movie monster look).

    If you're shooting snapshots, don't worry about the bracket-- they are a great way to make your wrists ache and make the camera ackward to carry. But it might be something to look at down the road.
     
  7. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, the SB-600 is the flash I've decided on. I was going to go with the 400, but I wouldn't be able to use it off the ceiling for a vertical shot (which seems like a huge limitation to me).

    What is a cold shoe stand?

    I have a strong suspicion that a ceiling bounce will do me nicely - can't really see myself lugging a huge bracket around at the next family get-together. :lol:

    Lots of great advice, I appreciate it.

    Jon
     
  8. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Opposite of hot. :lol: It's a flat stand the you slide the flash onto to stand it vertical, like when placing on shelf, floor, behind your subjects, etc. You may also want to look into a ball bungee and/or a superclamp to place it in odd locations like a door, pole, etc.
     
  9. Sandspur

    Sandspur TPF Noob!

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    I think you've got it figured out.

    I too shoot the D80 with the SB600. Usually use a Stofen diffuser dome and angle the head at 45 degrees.

    The 600 comes with a cold shoe. All it is is a little stand that you can attach the flash to and put it on a table or atop a tripod while using Commander mode.

    The Fong products are great - but cumbersome, ugly, and ... not cheap. A bracket would require a cord - the combination will run you at least $150 (not including the Fong-Dong).

    I have all that stuff, and use it when I'm shooting serious pro stuff.

    But for everyday snap-shooting, I don't bother. The 600 on camera and bounced does a great job!
     

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