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What do I need for off camera flash with a D700?

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by soulman, Sep 30, 2008.

  1. soulman

    soulman Guest

    I want to do some MTB action shots in the woods...

    The D700 is as good as it gets without flash under the tree canopy but I've seen some stunning stuff done with off camera flash. What do I need in my kit to do this?
     
  2. I use my SB-600 all the time
     
  3. TheCommons

    TheCommons

    112
    Jul 2, 2008
    LA, CA ;)
    You need a flash obviously.

    Im not sure how effective the Creative lighting system is(using popup as a commander) in the outdoors, but your safest bet is to fire using PC cords(wired) or via a receiver-transmitter device(cheap option would be cactus triggers)
     
  4. soulman

    soulman Guest

    Thanks guys, I was hoping to get away with a 600 for cost reasons, not a big flash user so if it's possible with the 600 thats the way I'll go
     
  5. joealcantar

    joealcantar

    86
    Oct 5, 2008
    Beaumont,CA
    Soulman what is MTB action shots?
     
  6. Chris01ZX6R

    Chris01ZX6R

    28
    Jul 25, 2008
    NJ
    This is a guess but I think he means mountain bike action shots.
     
  7. avyoung

    avyoung

    Dec 17, 2007
    Canada
    Hi Des,

    I have been mountain bike racing for a few years now (both DH and XC). I haven't been out in the trails taking photos much, but would love to get some great shots for friends.

    On camera flash does not look have as nice as getting off the camera some where. You certainly can use Nikon's CLS Commander with a SB600 or SB800 (or 900). I would encourage you to get the more powerful and capable SB800...used perhaps if you don't want to lay out so much cash. But as you can see on this board, you may be able to pick one of the SB800 up for a ridiculously low price as they phase them out.

    One flash will be good to dabble, but get atleast 2 flashes if you get serious. Radiotriggers can be very useful so that you can place the off camera flashes anywhere that you want. I chose to go with very cheap Ebay cactus V2 triggers since I don't use them very often.

    2513568822_6b5a597538_b.
    two SB800 off camera; cactus v2 triggers

    2907054000_36e01781e3_b.
    Two SB800 main lights; SB900 with Blue gel back light; cactus V2 triggers
     
  8. soulman

    soulman Guest

    avyoung - that's the kind of thing! Will the D700 not control a couple of SB-X00's to do this? Will I have to buy more kit?
     
  9. avyoung

    avyoung

    Dec 17, 2007
    Canada
    Hi Des,

    I think your plan is just fine. I would get atleast one SB800 or SB900 if the budget allows, as it is nice to have one that you can use on the camera as a commander as needed: you can use it on camera as fill and the off camera flash as the main light. (You can also swivel the head of the SB800/900 to fire a remote in a location that would otherwise be impossible to work with the built-in camera flash. Also, the SB800/900 are about 2/3 stop more powerful than the SB600, and you may find that extra power useful in either more shots in rapid sucession or more power and range to over power bright ambient light (a problem I find is common). If you start using flash modifiers like gels or shoot thru umbrellas you reduce your flash output further.

    Sometimes I like to use the SB800/900 in SU4 remote mode (I don't think the SB600 does not have this feature). It uses the IR sensor to fire the flash in manual. The SU4 has incredible sensitivity and can be used far away from the on camera flash.

    The Nikon CLS is fast and great on the fly, but nothing replaces a carefully thought out shot with the lighting controlled in manual flash output. This is where the radio remotes can be very effective. You can set up the flash in any position you desire, and not dictated by line of sight with the Nikon CLS system parameters; you don't get any ittl preflash delay; you are limited to 1/250sec max sync speed with the radio triggers (only the expensive radiopoppers will keep ittl and FP sync intact).

    On the other hand, with the Nikon CLS you can command the remotes in using manual settings to elimate the shutter lag by preflashes, or use the flash exposure lock.

    Not MTBing, I took this shot this evening when the kids wanted to ride in the driveway. I used the D300 built-in flash as commander using ittl. Set the built-in to -- (turned the output to off) this allows you to use the built-in commander to control your remotes in FP sync (allow upto 1/8000sec instead of limiting you to 1/320sec). I had 2 speedlights to the left and one on the right to overpower the sunlight. All of them had 1/2 CTO gels.

    2930204599_fd16329546_b.
    Nikon 10.5 fisheye; F8.0; 1/1600sec; ISO 200; processed with Adobe Raw.

    I am finding the strobist thing really fun and interesting. Sometimes it essential to getting the shot; while other times it can create a whole different look. If you get a SB800/900 and a SB600, I think you will have a great time exploring your MTB shots! You can always add radio remotes in the future if you find you need/want them.

     
  10. Billy Ng

    Billy Ng

    722
    Jan 22, 2007
    Hartsdale, NY
    Gear used in this shot
    -------------------------------
    Two Sunpak 383s: $80 each
    Poverty Wizard Radio Triggers: $40 (1 transmitter & 3 receivers)
    1 Cheapo light stand from B&H: $20
    1 Cheapo light/umbrella bracket from B&H: $14
    1 Cheapo 42" white shoot-through umbrella: $15
    Shot of your friend's kid in perfect soccer form: Priceless
    --------------------------------

    There are some things light can't do, for everything else, there's Strobist.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Billy Ng

    Billy Ng

    722
    Jan 22, 2007
    Hartsdale, NY
    On a more serious note, CLS was simply too expensive of an option for me and in my brief workings with it on a small scale, I found it a bit limiting and in the case of using the popup-flash as a master, rather annoying in that the popup flash contributed to the scene too much for my liking.

    So I built my lighting kit on the cheap and cheap with the idea in mind of always being fully manual and wireless.

    I already had an SB-800, I picked up two Sunpak 383s and went with Ebay radio triggers (Poverty Wizards) for less than $50 shipped with 1 transmitter and 3 receivers.

    I got two light stands, two umbrella/flash brackets, and two umbrellas (one silver reflective, one white shoot-through).

    I also picked up the Nikon flash gel kit for the SB-800.

    All in all, I'm out less than $300 and I've got a rather versatile kit. The only thing I would do different is pony up the extra cash for better triggers. The Poverty Wizards are about as bad and bad gets. I'm waiting for the Radio Popper Jr.'s to come out as an inexpensive but high-quality replacement for my triggers. But I've been waiting for almost 6 months now, and I'm beginning to wonder if they will ever really hit the market and I may just have to go with something like the Skyports.
     
  12. TheShotLessTaken

    TheShotLessTaken

    303
    Oct 2, 2008
    SoCal
    Do I see a skyline in that garage across the street? :eek: 


     
  13. avyoung

    avyoung

    Dec 17, 2007
    Canada
    Billy,

    I think you made a great case for the poverty wizards and going all manual control, however Nikon CLS has its advantages.

    Having used both the poverty wizards and the Nikon CLS IR system, I would have to say as a mountain biker out trail riding, I would prefer to take minimal equipment. If I was to take candids of my buddies (setting up very quick to take a grab shot as they go by) I would prefer the Nikon CLS with ittl to do all the calculating. If I was setting up for a high quality shot, that I would be doing several takes over and over, I would go all manual and use the radio triggers so I can place the speedlight flashes where I want and do not have to stick to line of sight. The consistency shot to shot, with all manual is essential if you are setting up for a particular shot that you have envisioned.

    Here is a time-trial race where I set two speedlights on opposite sides of the road. I took shots of the riders from different angles and left the lighting the same for all of them. I could not have done this with the Nikon CLS, I need the radiotriggers to free me from the line of sight limitation.

    2512749921_ffba705228_b.

    2943130273_afdf1d4095_b.

    2943131007_a4c48182b8_b.

    2943131831_f27a3a36f9_b.
    Here the shot immediately after the last, no flash. Big difference!

    Tonight, I grabbed a quick shot of my one year old jumping from the coffee table to the sofa. I am not practiced enough with all-manual control to intuitively know what flash output to use, especially since I moved around to different camera positions and moved the flashes around if to get the lighting I wanted. Nikon's ittl makes for quick grab shots easy. It is not 100% consistent shot to shot even if you keep all the variables the same, so that is why I prefer manual, if I am taking multiple shots to get the best one.

    2943063617_8022825fab_b.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 15, 2008
  14. I used my D80 and SB-600 (which was bungee'd to a tree on the other side of the trail) for this shot. It was fired via CLS. This is the first time I tried one of these shots, so it's not that impressive. I plan on making a better one in the future.

    original.
     
  15. avyoung

    avyoung

    Dec 17, 2007
    Canada
    Hi TheShotLessTaken,

    Although, I don't necessarily think this the best interpretation of the moment, it was an example of overpowering the sun. I was encouraging Des to get the more powerful SB800 (over the SB600) and wanted to give an example of how dramatic the lighting can be if you have enough flash power to overpower the ambient lighting.

    Here is a shot from that evening that I thought the dramatic lighting suited.

    2943894290_1ce9b1bfb0_b.
    My son Lukas has a lot of attitude and "cool" about him. I liked how this turned out.

    On the other hand, my son Lukas said he did not like the "night shots" and wanted "happy pictures of him biking" (brighter). For me, I am exploring and trying out different ways to light a picture. Eventually, I'll have enough experience and tricks in my bag of knowledge to create the right lighting for the moment!
     
  16. avyoung

    avyoung

    Dec 17, 2007
    Canada
    Mike,

    Nice start. I have seen some of your other work. I'm sure you will have some spectacular MTB shots soon!
     
  17. avyoung

    avyoung

    Dec 17, 2007
    Canada
    Hi Des,

    One more thing, do yourself a favor and check out Seb Rogers blog. He is a professional mountain bike photographer in England, and I have learnt a tonne from him. He is super friendly too, and has answered my questions via email.

    He has comments on pocket wizards verses Nikon CLS use, advantages and disadvantages of both approaches....and much much more!

    http://sebrogers.typepad.com/seb_rogers_blog/

    Enjoy!
     
  18. He was asking if that was a Nissan Skyline in the garage across the street... :wink:
     

  19. Thanks Alan. I will most definitely give it another go before too long.
     
  20. avyoung

    avyoung

    Dec 17, 2007
    Canada
    Ohhhh! Hahah
    Nope.
    There are a few Nissan Skyline's in the neighbourhood, but none on my block. I hear there will be a New Skyline that will be imported to North America...looks pretty cool.

    I saw a show that takes three different cars and teams and allows them to supe them up to have a show down. I was disappointed that the Nissan Skyline with over 600hp had so many problems on the track and I think it even blew the motor by the end of it. I was expecting it to blow the other cars away but it didn't.:rolleyes: 
     
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