Tuesday, June 3, 2008

off camera flash on the CHEAP!!! (BYOF)

Ok, we have already established that photographers are cheap.  I have already resonated with this several times on the blog.  I know I have talked a bit about David Ziser's off camera flash setup and lots of people want to use that setup ... however, his Qflash and battery pack will run you a little over 1,200.00 landing your total in the $1,500 + ballpark.  I don't know about you - but that HURTS!  Most of us have a decent camera flash / speedlite.  Why not put that one to work to get the same result?

(click on image for larger version)
This is the setup I have put together using my Canon 580 EX II flash.  If you don't already own a flash this setup will be a little more expensive; however, good used flashes are easy enough to find.  I know the strobist likes Nikon's SB-24.  I used that speedlite for years on my Nikon N90s and I do believe it would work well for this setup - you can generally find them for $50-$80 on eBay.  That said - I am not including the 580 in my list of supplies - so this setup is a BYOF (bring your own flash).

  • Dynex light duty 70" monopod $29.95 - Best Buy
  • Photoflex shoemount multiclamp: $16.95 - B&H
  • IMPACT 33" translucent umbrella: $9.95 - B&H
  • Quantum FreeXwire trancievers (2 units needed): $265.00 - eBay seller imagesc
  • Nikon 15" PC Male - PC Male (I used a 15' Interfit/Patterson cable that I had laying around.  It ended up having a short in it which is why you see it taped to the light stand.  My assistant found where the short was and managed to make a temporary fix that got us through the rest of the day.  Nikon makes a cool version that has thread locks so you can't accidentally pop the cable out.  The Interfit/Patterson cables are around $9.95 for a 12" cable on B&H.  The Nikon cables are 19.95 for a 15" cable that will lock in place.  My money is going on the Nikon but ultimately you can pick what works for you):  19.95 - B&H
                                                               TOTAL: $341.80

I would recommend picking up a power-pack for the flash down the road to allow it to recharge more quickly.  Your flash will dictate which one you purchase.  Canon makes a cool pack that runs 8 NiMh rechargeable batteries that only works with the 580 line for around $150.  Quantum makes universal power packs that can be added to any flash system that has a power input.  The quantum packs start around $460 for the SC slim model + the appropriate cord to connect your flash.  The 2x2 is more powerful and thus starts in the $580 for the unit alone and 30-40 for your flash cable.  I just did a wedding using the 580EX without a power pack and the only time the flash had a hard time keeping up was when the bride came in the sanctuary and I was popping about 3 frames per second at 1/2 power.  That in mind .. I think I will be going with the Canon - especially since I have an abundance of NiMh rechargeable batteries.


Ronnie said...

Cheap...er inexpensive thats what I need. Thanks for the list of parts.

Spikey said...

Thanks for the post. I think that this setup is ideal instead of battery packs and large lights.

Thanks for the info and pricing.

rafamvc said...

What is the monopod for?
Are you thinking about holding this all the time? Shouldn't it be a light stand?

Rick Mead said...

You could use a light stand in a studio setting; however, I have found that having an assistant hold the setup is a faster situation. It is nothing for me to say "Mike, take a step to the left or lean the light in overhead a bit more." A light stand has to be adjusted and moved ... translates into time. Time is something that I have little of on a wedding day. This setup requires you to have an assistant who will hold it. The Dancing in the light photo:


would have been impossible with a light stand. That was taken at the reception and the monopod allows us to work in the crowd without causing a mess.