In the last post, we covered some reasons you may want to use flash – now what if you are ready to make an investment? Flashguns can be reasonably priced to quite expensive – this depends on the brand you go for and the model. Newer models have far more features but they will cost more – however, the investment may be worth it if you want your flash to last for a good few years.
When you buy your first flashgun, it’s worth looking out for some features that you may find useful. The best thing to do is to buy an automatic or TTL flash which will work in unison with your camera, measuring the correct amount of flash required for the situation. Here are some features to look for:
1. Swivel/Bounce Head
This is very common on TTL flashguns, and it means that you can bounce the flash in various directions, most commonly off a wall, off the ceiling. This way you can go for a shadow less portrait – when using a flash straight on, you tend to get the harsh black lines around the subject.
2. TTL/Dedicated Flash
You don’t have to buy a flash which is made for the camera you own, in that, it can be made from a third party but do go for one which is compatible with your camera model. An older flash will require more work because it may not have full functionality and some things may have to be done manually.
3. Recycling Time
Recycling time is the amount of time it takes for your flash to power up and take another picture. You know the whirring sound you hear when the flash goes? That’s the powering up for the next shot. You need to test your flash out to see how long it takes to recharge as one that takes minutes may mean that you miss shots. Some flashes allow you to attach a battery pack which means faster recharge times.
Some flashes have a USB slot you can get firmware updates and therefore, it will stay up to date. It also means that they may be compatible with future cameras.
5. Flash Exposure Compensation
High end flashguns will let you adjust the amount of power from -2 to +2 generally speaking, so you can add a little flash or more for the best possible image.
6. Wireless Flash
The ability to be used wirelessly is extremely useful – the top end flashguns will allow you to control a single or multiple flashes using infra red technology meaning you won’t need to buy or use the fiddly wires and cables. Canon and Nikon both use this feature although you will need to check if you specific model will do this.
7. Guide Number
The higher a guide number is, the more powerful the flash unit is (they are represented as ISO 100, ISO 200 etc).
8. Exposure Modes
Good lashes will have different modes to choose from, in the way that you would choose a mode with your camera. For example, fill in flash, high speed sync (for very high speed conditions) manual mode, strobe mode (when the flash goes off continuously) etc.
9. Stroboscopic Mode
The high end flashes will go further than having just a strobe mode and will have a function where you can allow the flash to go off continuously during a shot to capture various stages of movement, for example, of a bird flying or of a dancer.