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josh.p.
24-02-2013, 06:57 PM
Hi All,

I have a Sony Alpha A230, not the best DSLR by any stretch of the imagination but it suits me fine. The flash is pretty rubbish and as I've got some birthday money I was thinking of buying a flashgun/external flash.

What do I look out for? There are some that cost more than my whole camera!! and some that are about 50.

Ideally I want to spend as little as possible, between 50 and 100. Just something that I can use to illuminate pictures when using auto without washing them out.

What features do I want?

Josh

keith
24-02-2013, 07:07 PM
as you say, you can get very cheap to very expensive and like cameras, you need to think if you'd even use the advanced features.

For me personally there are four main things I look at when choosing a flash

1. size - if its too large I know I wont take it with me on anything other than very setup shots. So there's no point

2. power - if a cheapy flash is small but will only light up a distance of say a couple of feet, again, no point, I'm not usually that close to the subject

3. tilt - one of the best things about an external flash is the ability to tilt the flash up so you dont get the direct light on the subject, rather you can bounce the light off a roof or a wall etc. This makes a huge difference but of course does use some power which is why more power is better

4. recycle time - ideally the faster the better so you dont miss the next shot :)

Now of course, if you want the best in all that you're looking at 100s so you have to prioritise. Tilt/rotate is a massively important, usually overlooked one though. I wouldnt get an external flash that could only fire straight ahead

josh.p.
24-02-2013, 07:11 PM
Most of my photos are to accompany stories, so usually they are quite close up, in awkward places, and of an event so not necessarily posed.

What is considered a 'good' recycle time.. I've seen some as long as 5 seconds! That seems ridiculous to wait a whole five seconds between shooting!

josh.p.
24-02-2013, 07:13 PM
Also.. what are guide numbers?

keith
24-02-2013, 07:17 PM
Most of my photos are to accompany stories, so usually they are quite close up, in awkward places, and of an event so not necessarily posed.

yeah but in those situations, a full flash in the face is an even WORSE idea! you'll wipe out the detail, get red eye, and kill any sense of depth. I mean if ALL you want is to make sure you have enough light then yeah ok you won't mind about the nuances, but why not try and do it better than the rest ? ;-) With a bit of care a quick adhoc interview photo could rise above the mediocre really easily. Bouncing the flash off a nearby wall is a really easy technique which makes a huge amount of difference. A diffuser on the front will also help with that harsh snapshot light that is so common


What is considered a 'good' recycle time.. I've seen some as long as 5 seconds! That seems ridiculous to wait a whole five seconds between shooting!

yeah I'd say 1second is as high as I'd really want to go but again it's a compromise with cost

josh.p.
24-02-2013, 07:23 PM
yeah but in those situations, a full flash in the face is an even WORSE idea! you'll wipe out the detail, get red eye, and kill any sense of depth. I mean if ALL you want is to make sure you have enough light then yeah ok you won't mind about the nuances, but why not try and do it better than the rest ? ;-) With a bit of care a quick adhoc interview photo could rise above the mediocre really easily. Bouncing the flash off a nearby wall is a really easy technique which makes a huge amount of difference. A diffuser on the front will also help with that harsh snapshot light that is so common
Exactly! I definitely want something that I can maneuver to bounce off ceilings or walls. I've seen loads of really cool diffusers that seem really cheap! They add bulk for sure but in most situations I really don't mind a bulky camera :shrug1:

Is the recycle time between each individual photo?

keith
24-02-2013, 07:29 PM
Exactly! I definitely want something that I can maneuver to bounce off ceilings or walls. I've seen loads of really cool diffusers that seem really cheap! They add bulk for sure but in most situations I really don't mind a bulky camera :shrug1:

I just use a simple stofen http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sto-Fen-OM-EW-Bounce-Flash-Diffuser/dp/B000CLNHXY

One of the first guys who taught me was a press photographer and he used to let me travel round with him, he'd get me to take a shot (snapshot and it'd be rubbish) then in about 10 seconds he'd get the subject to stand sideways to window light, bounce some fill flash and bang. Photo 100 times better than mine in just a few seconds. A tiny bit of kit and experience. Amazing what can be done


Is the recycle time between each individual photo?

between each flash photo.. normally you can press the shutter before the time is up but you either wont get a flash or it'll be underpowered

josh.p.
24-02-2013, 07:39 PM
What about something like this? http://www.amazon.co.uk/Polaroid-PL144AZ-Power-Zoom-Flashgun-Panasonic/dp/B004LNWWLW/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1361734728&sr=1-1

keith
24-02-2013, 07:41 PM
What about something like this? http://www.amazon.co.uk/Polaroid-PL144AZ-Power-Zoom-Flashgun-Panasonic/dp/B004LNWWLW/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1361734728&sr=1-1

absolutely! I think that's a fine unit

Tink
24-02-2013, 08:02 PM
Isn't it amazing to speak with Keith about camera or any electronic equipment? I swear you should be a consultant and charge a fee, Keith! We could all vacation with you in Tahiti if you would! :D :D

I know I've had so much excellent advice from you over the years that I refuse to purchase any electronic equipment without getting your advice first.

Just reading this has taught me about flash and how to take better photos!