Nikon Speedlights

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Ezra Morley 3 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #9964

    thefarmhand
    Participant

    I am needing to purchase a speedlight for a upcoming job. I’ve looked around a little and am looking at a Nikon SB-700, or a Yongnuo YN568EX ii. They range from $100-300. Am I shooting to high? Would something a little less fancy work? Or are they the limit of functionality? Does anyone recommend Nikon over the Chinese copy? Are any of you selling one? Thanks!

    #9966

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    Well, a little more information might help us to help you! What exactly do you intend to use it for? Do you plan on buying just one, or do need more than one? Do you really need the iTTL functionality, or can you go for a manual speedlight (the Yongnuo YN-560 II) and pay about half as much? Even the cheap speedlight supports “Slave Mode” (or “Optical Slave Mode”) which allows you to trigger it remotely, either with your camera’s built in flash, or with another speedlight.

    The one advantage(?) of the $325 Nikon flash is it’s “Wireless Mode” which will let you remotely trigger the speedlight, or whole groups of speedlights. I’m not sure if it’s just a glorified “Slave Mode”, or whether it’s actually some sort of wireless, but regardless, with the regular slave mode found on the YN-560 II (or YN-568, for that matter) you can do about the same thing. The other advantage of the Nikon product is, of course, it’s made by Nikon, it’s guaranteed to work with your camera. Third party manufacturers aren’t quite as reliable, but I have had veryfew, if any problems with my 2 YN-560s.

    If you want more than one speedlight, I would definitely recommend the YN-560 III (or YN-560 IV), as it includes built in 2.4 Ghz wireless control. You can buy a pair of YN-560 IV for about $150 and you get one flash to be on-camera which can wirelessly trigger a second flash without having to use Slave Mode! And all for less than half the price of the Nikon equivalent!

    I’m glad you asked about this, because I didn’t even realize that the YN-560 IV existed until today! As I said, I have the 560 and the 560 II, and I’ve had no trouble with them. If I was rich, I would definitely buy a couple of the 560 IV to add to my group. Sometimes just 2 speedlights isn’t enough. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • This reply was modified 4 years ago by  Ezra Morley.
    #9971

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    I forgot to add that, although some of the “original” Yongnuo speedlights got some rather bad reviews, I think their newer ones are very well rated. If I was seriously in the market for a speedlight, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one, or more than one. Considering the price compared to Nikon (or Canon) equivalents, it’s a no-brainer! I can get 6 of Yongnuo’s newest speedlights for the price of one Canon 600EX-RT Flash! Even if one or two of them broke, it would still be a better deal to me.

    #9972

    timtam
    Participant

    I can’t say enough good things about the SB 700. I have a second one on back order right now. I have purchased and returned 2 Yongnuo units and never again. I also have a cheap (maybe Bolt or not) ittl unit that works but it is a piece of junk. I also have a slave unit and an SB 300.

    The SB 700 comes with a case diffuser and two color correction snap on filters. Really easy to use. Just snap on the filter to match ambient light put on the diffuser and get great results.

    Exposure is always great.

    Now I also use four Yongnuo triggers when not using the Nikon CLS setup. They are also cheap and poorly designed but get the job done. They are not at all easy to understand and the instructions are poorly translated from Chinese.

    Of course the price is tempting. Just don’t expect the quality you get from Nikon. You get what you pay for.

    BTW. I almost never use my SB 300. It is a lot smaller than you might think and I don’t think it will fire the SB 700 as a master like the pop up flash does. I would not recommend it.

    The SB 700 has lighting fast recycle time when your subject is within 15′.

    At the end of the day. What are you needing it for? Does your camera support the CLS system?

    #9973

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    Of course the price is tempting. Just donโ€™t expect the quality you get from Nikon. You get what you pay for.

    That’s exactly right. You know if China can make something for 1/4 the price, they’re cutting corners somewhere! On the other hand, I don’t have the cash for the big name brands, so I have to take what I can get. But I think that, considering the price, the Yongnuos are still the better value.

    I guess it’s basically: pay a lot for a “name brand” and hope that it lives out it’s life paying you back. Otherwise, you pay a lot less, and hope that it lives long enough to pay for itself. ๐Ÿ™‚

    P.S. I think that the battery power has a lot to do with recycle times. Using high quality Eneloop batteries, you should get very decent recycle times with either system.

    #9980

    thefarmhand
    Participant

    Howdy!

    Ok, in response to buddingphotographer, I am not familiar with iTTl. I’ve just been learning to use my flash outdoors, and now my mentor is ready to hire me to help cover some major golf tournaments. He said that I would need to step up the power on the flash, as well as shoot faster than the onboard could. My understanding from my research, is that a good flash is a major factor in getting pro shots indoors and out. At this time I think that I only need one. I have also done some photography at the HEAV convention, and while flash use was restricted, there were a lot of places I could have used it! Where would the iTTL come into play? I also do some things like our church photo directory, which is indoor shooting. I’m not looking to throw a ton of money into this right now, but I want to make sure that I get somthing that will last, and preform very well, as the job I’ll be doing has to be done right the first time! If I get the Nikon I’m thinking about getting it used for around $225. Which Youngno did you recommend? What application would y’all use several lights in?

    And timtam, my camera does support the CLS, not exactly sure what that is though. Somthing to do with wireless? I have a D5200, and the owner’s manual does not really explain it. I will be doing group photos of some college professors and staff soon, as well as some real estate coverage. I know I’ll need a flash for that as well.

    #9981

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    i-TTL is a fancy way for saying “automatic flash”. In other words, you set your flash to i-TTL, and just fire away; it automatically adjusts the power to what is needed to properly expose the subject. It’s just like your on-board flash, you don’t have to think about it, or adjust it, it just works. Here’s an article that might throw some light on the subject. (Pardon the pun:)

    Manual flash on the other hand has to be set manually. You set the power level, and the flash will always fire at that power.

    CLS is Nikon’s Creative Lighting System. Here’s a video tutorial on how it works. (Be prepared to turn down the volume, it starts out rather loudly with some “noise”.) I also found a PDF which seems to explain more about it. It seems that there is very little information on i-TTL and CLS.

    As mentioned elsewhere David Hobby’s Lighting 101 and Lighting 102 are the last stop for learning how to use external lighting. (Unfortunately, “there is not a sense of moral integrity in the packaging in which the content is presented” to quote @jamesstaddon.)

    I want to make sure that I get somthing that will last, and preform very well, as the job Iโ€™ll be doing has to be done right the first time!

    If you can get the SB-700 used, then it will probably be your better option if that’s what you’re looking for. Even so, you can still get 3 of the Yongnuo’s for the same price. But as @timtam mentioned, you do get a case diffuser and two color correction snap on filters with the SB-700.

    I have used two speedlights for lighting up a room for a group portrait of 50-60 people. Even then, it was just barely enough light! I wish I had done more experimenting now, because I think the placement of the lights has a lot to do with it.

    #9982

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    BTW, one more thing in favor of the Yongnuo speedlights… B&H Photo, one of the most reputable photo stores in the USA has just recently begun to stock Yongnuo products. That in itself says something about their reliability, since B&H wouldn’t stock something that they can’t recommend. If you do go with a Yongnuo product, definitely buy it through B&H, and they will take care of any problems if there are any.

    It seems that they don’t actually have them in stock yet, according to their website, it will be another 2-4 weeks yet…

    #10014

    Mr. Quebec
    Participant

    I never had a Yongnuo flash, but buddingphotographer and I had a discussion here somewhere (Drop of Water), and his Yongnuo had optical slave, and my Canon 430EX did not. So I guess that some Yongnuo flashes can offer more than a ”name-brand” in terms of features.
    Also, maybe an other aspect to consider : Nikon flashes can fairly easily be sold used, while Chinese copies are harder to sell. If you plan to keep them as long as they will last, that will not be a problem, but if you want to upgrade or sell it someday, it can be something to look at.

    • This reply was modified 4 years ago by  Mr. Quebec.
    #10017

    timtam
    Participant

    If you are shooting golfers outdoors and you cant take a chance with your equipment then I suggest getting the SB 700 or two Yougnuos (one as a backup :] ).

    My initial thoughts on shooting golfers with an on camera flash (I assume you are moving around with the camera vs a portrait booth).
    Get a flash bracket with a sync cord and put a small diffuser on the flash head. This puts the flash a little higher and allows you to shoot portrait as well without shadows.

    Set your camera in manual exposure mode and the flash to TTL. Set your manual exposure to approximately 1 stop or less underexposed (while spot metering on your subject) and let the flash act as a fill flash in TTL mode, metering on your subject through the lens (TTL). You may have to lock exposure this way and recompose the shot depending how you are metering the scene. If you have relatively flat light you can get away with matrix metering. If you have very bright backgrounds then you might want to meter off of the background for your manual settings so the background is not blown out. This technique will make your backgrounds not too bright or too dark (which often occurs when shooting in Auto, A, P, or S modes with flash) and make your subject pop off the image a bit. First select you preferred aperture and ISO combination depending on conditions and use the shutter speed to control the exposure of your backgrounds.

    Remember when shooting with flash you are really taking two exposures at the same time. One exposure is the ambient light and the other flash.

    If you are taking any motion shots (golfer swinging, etc..) make sure your you flash is set for rear curtain sync so your motion blur looks natural.

    practice this technique.

    One thought just popped into my head. I cant imagine you are allowed to use flash outdoors during a golf event???? May distract the golfers?? Are you shooting the after dinner indoors?

    See attached sample images.
    one image show good indoor lighting plus an SB 700 with manual camera exposure and TTL flash exposure with a head diffuser and green filter on the flash to compensate for the indoor gymnasium lighting; the other shot shows poor indoor lighting with the camera set on auto everything with a camera mounted hot shoe flash set to TTL. You can see that the auto everything ruins the background. The third image shows using flash outdoors with the background slightly under exposed where the fill flash lets the subject pop a bit.

    • This reply was modified 4 years ago by  timtam.
    Attachments:
    #10023

    timtam
    Participant

    OK, one more shot. This is outdoors with OFF-camera flash TTL with flash placed camera right. You can see my and the flash reflection in the eyes.

    • This reply was modified 4 years ago by  timtam.
    Attachments:
    #10026

    thefarmhand
    Participant

    Howdy folks,

    I went ahead, bit the bullet, and bought the SB-700. I got it for $230 used. The reviews on the Chinese ones were 50/50 success and failure. I didn’t see many bad reviews at all on the sb-700. As Mr. Quebec pointed out, I also want the option of selling it later as well. Y’all have helped a lot in this decision making process. Thanks for all of your practical advise as well!

    Buddingphotographer, will the 700 work as a master with the Chinese models if I were to purchase them later as slaves?

    Timtam, Your first photo threw me for a loop. I’m 100% sure I know the young lady in that photo. Is that Lily G.? If so, she goes to my church!

    As far as the golfing goes, The photographer that I’m working for said that we will be covering the golf event with flash. This event is the Old American Ins. Co. seminar. They want photos of some important people playing golf, and it looks like they don’t care too much about distracting flash. Yes, I will be shooting indoors as well, so thanks for the tip on exposure. Say, when you shoot in manual as you described for the golf event, do you use auto ISO? Or should I just change the ISO every time I move location to adjust to the lighting?

    PS. Also attached is a photo of the max my onboard can do, I was forced to overexpose it… It was time to move on.

    Thanks again y’all!
    In Him,
    -Thefarmhand

    Attachments:
    #10033

    timtam
    Participant

    Personally I almost always shoot in M but will use auto ISO when condition are changing rapidly, i.e. outside sunny day, sports, etc…. However; in auto ISO you have the same problems with flash that you have with Auto exposure. So you are better off keeping it in Manual and quickly adjusting exposure with your shutter speed to control the background exposure. This is easy to do by metering your background with the camera meter and adjusting your shutter speed with the command dial to get it one stop under exposed. Don’t mess with your aperture, keep it set to f/5.6 to f/11 depending on how bright it is outside and even f/4.3 indoors. Practice.

    Lily?….. yes. Small, small world. She lives down the street from us and is friends with my daughter. That photo is from my daughter’s birthday party last spring.

    In your shot I think the background should be a stop darker. Looks like Mobjack Bay to me?

    Let me know if you ever want to try out some of our gear. Text 757 869 0957

    #10036

    thefarmhand
    Participant

    Hey Neighbor! That’s the Mobjack to be sure. Man this is a small world! I’m up in Mathews. All the jobs I’ve mentioned will be in Williamsburg. You’re right about the background. I had to overexpose it to be able to see our faces because my flash just wasn’t powerful enough. What kind of gear do you have to try? You’re welcome to contact me through https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkMachen/, and I’ll send you my email.

    #10102

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    Glad you guys connected! wow, it is a small world. Is that Matthew F. sitting there on the front row of Indoor-well-lit-room-1-of-1.jpg?

    And glad you got your sleedlite @thefarmhand. If not just shooting as hobby, you can’t take a chance like @timtam said. Reliability is a necessity when you’re shooting assignments.

    My two cents to add would be to not forget to make sure your hotshoe is clean. I’m out in the field a lot shooting landscapes, the hotshoe gets dusty/dirty, and then I get a scare when my speedlites mysteriously don’t fire. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you @timtam for your specific directives on March 17, 2015 at 9:21 pm. It’s been helpful for more than @thefarmhand.

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