Thursday, November 14, 2013

Interesting new Kickstarter project for a speedlight system

MagMod is a new kickstarter project for a fairly innovative light modifier system:

The innovation isn't in the light modification attributes, as its just a grid and a gel holder.  The innovation is in the delivery system.  Instead of messing with velcro and flimsy gels like you do on other systems like the Honl system you get an elegant, well thought out and implemented system that doesn't make you look like a DIYer.

By the way, I own and really like the Honl system, but it is not elegant and can sometimes be fussy to set up correctly etc.  It does the job, just not elegantly.

The MagMod, IF it fulfills on its promises, looks to be elegant, simple, easy to use AND useful all at the same time.  I contributed and am looking forward to testing it out when they start to ship in early 2014.  Click the link above to find out more and to support them towards their goals.  The campaign ends Dec 2, 2013…..

Monday, September 2, 2013

Yongnuo expected to come out with a transmitter for their YN-622 system of flash triggers

I read on Flash Havoc that Yongnuo is expected to announce a new flash transmitter for their YN-622Ns in October 2013.
(if you follow flash equipment, this is a great site that I recommend bookmarking)

For anyone who's read up on the YN-622Ns, they are a cheap alternative to radio poppers or pocket wizards, offering full i-TTL control of Nikon flashes off-camera - effectively replicating CLS functionality over radio so it doesn't have to be line-of-sight.  

In order to transmit up to this point, you either had to learn an arcane system of button pushes, or you could mount an SU-800, SB-900/910 or SB-700 on top of a YN-622N mounted on the camera.  This works really well but is a bit bulky and does effectively take one of your flashes out of commission (you can fire it from on-camera, but this isn't ideal).  The new transmitter will provide an SU-800 like interface and will attached directly onto the hotshoe (rather than sitting on top of the YN-622N).  This will be more compact AND will free up another flash to use off camera!!

I'll write more once I see an official announcement from Yongnuo.........

until then....happy shooting!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

My son Rowan has signed up for Basketball, so I thought I would try to represent that in a photo.  This is a three light setup.  Speedlights are on either side of him both in TTL (the one on the left is dialed into -1 EV in TTL).  I have a third set to manual on 1/2 power to highlight the goal (with a Honl grid on it).  I would have preferred a 4th speedlight to provide some rim lighting against Rowan, but I ran out of speedlights :-).

I see a few things I can improve on next time (in addition to the 4th speedlight),  such as dialing down and trying to more evenly spread the lighting on the basketball goal.  I may also try to bring in a little of the sky which was fairly dramatic at that time (it was dusk).  However, overall I am happy with with the image.  By the way, if you play Rowan in basketball, don't let him get within 4 to 5 feet of the goal.....he's a killer shot from that distance! :-).

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A few new tidbits regarding my Yongnuo YN-622N post....

I've had some conversations with Yongnuo technical support on the TTL capabilities of the YN622Ns and here is what I found out:

  • My SB-800 was throwing off the TTL.  The SB-800 has an issue with early YN-622N units.  Yongnuo claims that is fixed with newer units of the YN-622N.  They did not indicate a date when they started shipping the corrected unit, but I received that email on July 30, 2013.   I imagine they are selling briskly enough that if you buy the Yongnuo's after August, 2013, you should be good.  Note: the issue with the SB-800 affected TTL operation, but as far as I could tell, it did not impact manual control over the YN-622Ns.
  • All of my other flashes work with the YN-622N in both TTL and manual.  That includes the SB-900, SB-910 and SB-600.  
Happy Shooting....

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monthly Group Shoot -- West End Overlook

So on Sunday I went to my first Meetup of the Pittsburgh's Model and Photographer Meetup.  They have a group shot at the West End Overlook on the first Sunday of each month.  I went, met some good people and captured some good shots.  There were about 10 of us while I was there.  I believe the model's name was Alexandra.  It rained during most of the shoot, but that didn't deter us.  Here are some samples of some of the shot's I was able to get:

So I took a few photos as I was trying out my new Yonguo YN-622N's.  Here are a few of my beautiful family (Giao, Maia, and Rowan):

I was super excited because my family NEVER sits for me when I have my studio equipment set up.  Once we took some serious poses, a few silly ones came out as well:

 It was a short but fun session.

Photos were taken at f/8 or f/6.3 and 1/60s.  Primary flash was off camera on the left in a diffuser, while a small fill flash was camera right for two of the photos with Rowan.  The photos of Rowan were taken with a Nikon 85mm F/1.8, while the photos of Giao and Maia were taken with a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC @ 45mm.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Yongnuo YN-622n flash triggers

I purchased Yongnuo YN-622N flash triggers recently.  They are a very cheap alternative to PocketWizards, costing something like $100 for two (I bought 4).  They are transceivers so you put one on the hotshoe on your camera and the other ones on the flashes you want to control.

They also have a passthrough so that you can still use your flash on top of your camera.  I am very impressed so far (but still have a lot of testing to do).  Here are some of my notes so far:
1) Controlling the other flashes from the transceiver itself is painful, as the controls are through a series of button pushes that are not intuitive.  The good thing is there are other options for controlling the other flashes.

2) I originally thought I would be able to use my camera's master controller menu for the built in flash to communicate with the camera mounted YN-622n, but that unfortunately does not work.

3) You CAN control the system from a flash mounted on top of the camera/YN-622n.  Controlling the system from a camera mounted SB-910 or SU-800 is super easy and what I am doing.  You can also use an SB-900 or SB-700 as a master controller (the SB-700 allows you to control 2 groups, the others let you control 3 groups).  Note, although you can use an SB-800 as a controlled remote flash using the YN-622n, the YN-622n is not compatible with using it as a Master.

4) I am still testing the pass through TTL.  I have had some inconsistent results in TTL mode but it could be me.

5) I usually set up for manual flash output.  This has worked flawlessly for me.  To do this you set all of your remotes as TTL, and in my case I set my SB-910 as Master.  I control all of the flash ratios for my groups from my SB-910 so without having to walk over to my remote flashes, or worrying about whether the infrared eye is pointing in the right direction, I can just fire and forget.  Very cool.

6) I thought that I might be able to mix and match with my SB-910 on camera with some remotes using the YN-622n and some still relying on the infrared CLS communication (since I was using the 910 as my Master).  Unless I did something wrong in my test, that mixed mode does not seem to be supported.

7) I have not tested it, but there is a 3rd party SU-800 available from Debao that is around $100.  That is significantly cheaper than Nikon's SU-800 (and it uses AA batteries instead of the CR123 that the Nikon uses).   If the Debao works well with the YN-622n system, it would be a very cost effective alternative.

All in all, if you want to experiment with off camera flash and don't mind doing manual flash control (all from your camera mounted flash, which is super easy), then I highly recommend the Yongnuo's.  If you want to shoot TTL, I would read a few more reviews to verify that TTL is working correctly for others (as I said, I may just be doing something wrong).

Happy Shooting....