Flashlights for photography

Wurkkos

Ugo

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Hi all,

I am new here so I apologize for what is likely an old question, but I could use some advice and didn't see quite what I was looking for in a quick search.

[SIZE=-1]I am a photographer who is heavy into macro work. The longer the lens, and the smaller the aperture, the more light you need. Unfortunately good dedicated macro flash lighting rigs tend to be quite expensive. They also are usually setup in a fixed configuration, which doesn't allow for much - if any - flexibility in lighting direction. Some do not provide the option of always being on either, which can make it hard to setup the shot in the first place. The next problem is that if I use a flash then I'm limited to the 1/200th flash sync speed of my camera, but I'd prefer to shoot faster when possible.

To counter these problems, I've decided to try mounting small flashlights to the legs of my Gorillapod tripod (SLR Zoom version) - but still shoot hand-held. This could allow me to use the tripod legs to point the flashlights wherever I need the light, leave them on so I can see what I'm doing when setting up the shots, and shoot much faster than 1/200th of a second.

I recently got two very cheap Niko 21 led flashlights, just to test the idea, and it seems like the concept has promise. However, along with their cheap price, these flashlights are also cheap in construction. Based on the reviews at Amazon, it seems this model is infamous for flickering/cutting out, and sure enough one of mine is doing that. Also, I want to have a whole lot more light than these two can deliver. They were just for the experiment though, to test whether or not the idea was worth pursuing with better lights.

So this brings me to why I signed up here at Candle Power...I could use some advice on good, relatively inexpensive, flashlights to replace the cheap Nikos with. Here is my best case scenario:

- White LEDs, with relatively neutral color (not too blue or purple). Yes, color can be corrected after the fact, but the less editing I have to do later, the better.

- Very small and lightweight. Each needs to be able to be strapped to the last joint on a Gorillapod leg, and not make the leg drop anytime too soon.

- Super bright. If the light is available I can always shoot faster to tone it down, but there's not much I can do if I don't have enough light to start with.

- Somewhat adjustable strength. While not a "must have" feature, I can foresee situations where it might be nice. (Lighting one side stronger than the other, or only throwing a little light into the background.)

- Does not get hot. At times, the lights will be almost touching the subjects, so I don't want to toast any bugs or cause them to run, and I don't want to risk igniting dried flowers.

- Decent power usage and/or can use rechargeable batteries. If it works out, I'll be using this rig quite often so I don't want to be eating up batteries too quickly. If the light does burn through them fast, I'd like to at least be able to recharge them when I get home.

- Reasonably well made. They don't need to survive a war, just hold together during daily usage.

[/SIZE]
[SIZE=-1]- Preferably $50 or less, each. I realize I might be asking for a Ferrari for the price of a Smart but since I'm new to this I figured I'd ask.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=-1]
If this isn't achievable, how close can I get within that price range, and how close outside of it?

Thanks in advance for the advice.



[/SIZE]


 

DM51

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Welcome to CPF, Ugo :)

We have a sub-forum especially for photographic matters, so I'm moving your thread there.
 

jrtf83

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I'm a bit of a newbie around here, but I've had a GREAT experience with the highly recommended Romisen RC-G2 II from shiningbeam.

Bright, white, simple AA batteries, simple on/off and good strong construction.

Something else you might look at is strobist.com, off camera lighting on the cheap.
 

compasillo

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Hi Ugo and welcome to CPF,

I like also the macro photography and use several flashlights for the work.

They are cheap (under $50) MC-E and SSC P7 based lights from DealExtreme.

have a look on sku 16092 and 12060

They have five modes (no use for the flashing ones but the Hi-Mid-low
are usefull enough to control the amount of light you need in every shot)

These items are very useful to me also

sku 14150, 1310

I have a little space to do the work so this is my mini studio

 
Last edited:

entoptics

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Can't help with a specific light choice, but I can provide some "field tested" suggestions.

1) Several 1xAA choices under $50 that will provide 1/400th at 12" for macro stuff (100ish lumens). JetFire, Fenix, Quark, Nitecore, iTP, EagleTac, etc.

2) Devise a diffuser lens or buy a light that has the accessory. Hot spots are difficult to work with.

3) Use a white piece of paper to figure out white balance for a shot prior to shooting for keepers.

Good luck. I don't need it that much for most of my photography, but a good bright diffused flashlight can mean the difference between 1/20th and 1/200th. I have used my EagleTac T20C2 on numerous occasions for a flash like boost that you can expose for without trial and error.
 

DM51

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compasillo... putting all those links in your post is not acceptable. I have deleted them.

Aside from everything else, posting links like that is just lazy - you gave no details of what any of those items are, just links to a dealer whose name is a byword for shoddy and unreliable products.

Please read Rule 6.
 

compasillo

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compasillo... putting all those links in your post is not acceptable. I have deleted them.

Aside from everything else, posting links like that is just lazy - you gave no details of what any of those items are, just links to a dealer whose name is a byword for shoddy and unreliable products.

Please read Rule 6.

I'm very sorry Dave. My appologies
I'll edit my post and try to correct the info.
 

chenko

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I'm also using flashlights for photography with good results. Flashlights give me many interesting possibilities, the simpler one being to aid the autofocus function of the camera to work properly in a dark enviroment.

Now for the macro photography examples.
This jewel was shot in a totally dark enviroment using just a Zebralight H501w light:
macro_jewel_H501w.jpg


This key was instead photographed using a long exposure time and moving an Eagletac P20A2w flashlight at different angles:
macro_key_P20A2.jpg


Several trials were needed to achieve the result of making the surface grit of the metal to "pop out".

With the very same technique but different movements of the flashlight a more "standard" picture could be achieved:
macro_key_P20A2_02.jpg


Flashlights are AWESOME tools for photography.:thumbsup:
I'd privilege neutral white versions of the leds, not because you cannot correct white balance of the RAW files, but because the neutral and warm tints work better toghether with other natural light sources and studio equipment.
I ordered a limited edition warm white Quark preon2 just to experiment with warm leds for photography. :twothumbs
 

Rexlion

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There's also the potential for creative colored lighting with the Quark RGB. Available in cool white or natural white, plus (of course) bright and vivid red, green, and blue.
 

Ugo

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Sorry for the late reply, its been quite a week. Many thanks to all for the advice. I'll definitely check into your suggestions.

chenko, great jewelry shot!
 

chenko

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Some other interesting things you could do with flashlights:

DSC_8890_web_c.jpg


DSC_8892_web_c.jpg


It's all about "painting" with light. Literally!
 

brh

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I shoot a lot of outdoor macros, and really like the Romisen RC-C6 II from ShiningBeam for cloudy days. I use a Sigma DP2 - a relatively compact camera - and the Romisen works out great. Single 123 means I have a relatively compact light with my relatively compact camera. I can generally position the light with my lens-steadying left hand while operating the controls & supporting the camera in my right. The adjustable optic on the Romisen, I generally leave at its floodiest. This gives me a nice even beam across the photo.

(image links to flickr in accordance w/ flickr's TOS.)

That one was shot on a nasty dark day, yet I was still able to pull off 1/50 @ f/11. :)
 

EV_007

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Awesome topic. I just got a macro lens and am excited to try my hand at macro stuff. using a flashlight has always intrigued me. The continuous light source seems to allow for more on the fly control over strobes.

I like the fact that you can position them independently.

I'll be posting more in this flashlight/photo section.
 

palimpsest

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The adjustable optic on the Romisen, I generally leave at its floodiest. This gives me a nice even beam across the photo.

(image links to flickr in accordance w/ flickr's TOS.)

That one was shot on a nasty dark day, yet I was still able to pull off 1/50 @ f/11. :)
The light looks like a "middle morning" sunlight...very nice
 

brembo

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Fiddling around with some ceiling bounce, found that a Xeno E03 (XM-L T5, neutal) running off a lithium primary makes for a great light source. It puts out 100-ish lumens with this setup. Had to use an eight second exposure. The trit vial really popped out color wise, maybe it's own luminosity? Cool white XM-Ls don't generate all that pretty of a light for photography. So here they are:

Picture of Shiningbeam S-mini lit by Xeno XM-L
xenocb%20(Medium).jpg

http://webpages.charter.net/brembo/xenocb.jpg <----link to fullsize

Picture of Xeno E03 lit by Shiningbeam (Neutral XP-G)
shinbeam%20(Medium).jpg

http://webpages.charter.net/brembo/shinbeam.jpg <----link to fullsize
 

EV_007

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I asked this once and Sundrop was the answer I heard quite often (still can't afford one though)

Any high CRI will do. Diffused is even better. Although if you don't have a high CRI light and have access to photo editing software, and shoot in RAW file format, you can eek out some fine tuned color balance as well.
 

hoffmyster86

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head to the CREE types, just a matter of dufusing and/or dimming, pulse controllers for brightnes and dimming work very well, the duty cycle control is the dimmer but it will go wayyyy down low compaired to the standard resiter type dimmers.

mg9024sfn.jpg
[/URL] Uploaded with ImageShack.us[/IMG]

or a cheep 5 doller cree from evil bay..light scribes as a just to see using a paragon 10 doller m42 lens.

mg6960sfn.jpg
[/URL] Uploaded with ImageShack.us[/IMG]
 

fyrstormer

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Nichia beats Cree by a mile when it comes to light quality. McGizmo makes an un-reflectored light called the Mule which hosts a Nichia 119V emitter. It makes an excellent photography light.

CIMG4941a.png
 

tmamer

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Any high CRI will do. Diffused is even better. Although if you don't have a high CRI light and have access to photo editing software, and shoot in RAW file format, you can eek out some fine tuned color balance as well.

ya, but, if you want to shoot photos that balance with ambient daylight, then what do you do?

t
 
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