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Cheap options for better flash photos?
Just wondering if people have any clever tricks or ideas to give much nicer flash photos (I hate the way photos look with the built in flash) for those who are currently unable to spend any kind of significant money on a decent flash? This is for DSLR's by the way..

I suspect that getting/making some kind of cheap diffuser will probably be my best bet, how well do diffusers work though on a built in flash?.

The other night I was messing around with an old old external flash that my father bought in the 80's. The problem is it has no metering so always just goes off the full amount, which actually gives me completely white photos unless I stop down the aperture (theres a little chart on the back of the flash letting you know what aperture to use for what distance). The problem here of course is that by stepping down the aperture to compensate for flash going off at maximum blast means I get a lot less ambient / background light. I have even tried holding the flash off-camera either myself or having someone help me, set up a pretty slow shutter-speed and get them to manually fire the flash at my subject when they hear the camera shutter go off. This only really works with shutter speeds of 1/2 sec or slower, but surprisingly looks quite good!..

Comments (6)

Have you tried using Slow Sync??? That will eliminate the 'deer in the headlights' look at the cost of a slow shutter speed....

Zadam wrote:.

Just wondering if people have any clever tricks or ideas to give muchnicer flash photos (I hate the way photos look with the built inflash) for those who are currently unable to spend any kind ofsignificant money on a decent flash? This is for DSLR's by the way..

I suspect that getting/making some kind of cheap diffuser willprobably be my best bet, how well do diffusers work though on a builtin flash?.

The other night I was messing around with an old old external flashthat my father bought in the 80's. The problem is it has no meteringso always just goes off the full amount, which actually gives mecompletely white photos unless I stop down the aperture (theres alittle chart on the back of the flash letting you know what apertureto use for what distance). The problem here of course is that bystepping down the aperture to compensate for flash going off atmaximum blast means I get a lot less ambient / background light. Ihave even tried holding the flash off-camera either myself or havingsomeone help me, set up a pretty slow shutter-speed and get them tomanually fire the flash at my subject when they hear the camerashutter go off. This only really works with shutter speeds of 1/2sec or slower, but surprisingly looks quite good!..

Comment #1

Yeah I don't mind slow-sync, and tend to use it quite a lot... In some situations it gives a better result than standard flash, in some cases I find it doesn't work so well (too hard to hand-hold such slow shutter speeds). Still, there must be other options.....

Comment #2

First, be careful about using an old flash on a modern DSLR. If the trigger voltage of the flash is too high you could fry your camera. Still, if it's worked so far you are probably OK....

Apart from getting an external flash with a bounce/swivel head, a quick-n-cheap alternative is to make a diffuser out of translucent white plastic (like an old camera film carton or a table-tennis ball) which fits over the flash head:.

Http://www.flickr.com/photos/natuurplaat/10362363/.

Http://photojojo.com/content/diy/diy-film-container-flash-diffuser/.

The pop-up flash is not very powerful and this will reduce the light intensity more, so stay close to your subject, and use a wide aperture or turn up the ISO..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #3

Don't get rid of that old flash yet. Try: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/02/welcome-to-strobist.html.

Also, get a decent off camera flash. They aren't expensive.

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Comment #4

I use both of these..

Http://store.garyfonginc.com/puf-01.html.

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Http://www.adorama.com/FALSUS.html?searchinfo=lightscoop&item_no=2.

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The also make a warm version of the lightscoop..

Both work very well. Yes you can make your own, but they never stay on as well as the manufactured items..

You didn't mention what brand you were shooting. I happen to shoot Nikon. There are situations where I want something more powerful than the on camera pop up flash but don't want a big flash unit on the camera (to intimidating) In those situations Nikon makes a SB-400 flash which is very small buy has full TTL capabilities and the head will swivel up to a full 90 degrees.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

They sell for just over $100 and are a great middle ground between the on camera and large external flash units. I don't know what other manufacturers offer but I would bet you could find a similar solution for other brands...

Comment #5

Thank for that web site, it's very informative and I'll have to read through everything!.

One problem however, when I started reading the introduction/tutorial it told me something I already suspected....

"2) You have a strobe that can be set to manual power and "dialed down," as seen in the second photo. This is pretty much mandatory. If your flash does not have a variable manual control, you are gonna be one unhappy (and very limited) puppy.".

Unfortunately, the old flash I have has no such control  ...

Comment #6

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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