After spending what seems like an eternity of trial and error, I have finally sorted the problem of shadow with flash etc, by sorting myself out with a flash bracket and cord. However, whilst looking for a more powerful flash (Metz, Quantum etc) I notice that although they are pro level kit, they are all side mounted!!! Why is that? It seems like going forward to go back!!
Unsightly shadow's will be introduced again!!
Can someone explain why side-mounting these flash units suddenly becomes a 'selling feature'? when so much marketing is done for other products to ensure that the flash is kept directly over the lens etc?
I hope i'm not the only one who recognises this inconsistency.
#1. "RE: Why side mounted pro flash?" In response to Reply # 0
Rural Virginia, US
The "potato masher" flash units have been around for as long as there have been strobes. I got my first one in the the late 50s. They duplicated the form factor of the large side mounted flash bulb units used with many film bodies of the time. So one answer to your question is "they have always existed."
Having the flash above and right or left of the lens axis creates a different look to direct flash shots that I prefer. It creates more "modeling" of features rather than the very flat features from the close-to-axis camera mounted flashes. In fact for a time you could buy a flash bracket for your hot shoe flash that duplicates the side mount flash (Nikon and Sunpak made them). On a SLR or DSLR - rotating to portrait orientation maintains the side mounted flash above and right or left of the lens axis (as long as you rotate clockwise) so no flash flipping is required. Stroboframe made a flash bracket that allowed you to position your "potato masher" directly above the lens. Not very wieldy!
The large side mount flashes tend to be more powerful so they have more options for light modifiers and can do bounce flash when less powerful units can't.
A hot shoe flash on a bracket well above the lens gets some of the modeling back, but it is not as nice (in my view) as flash that is also right or left of axis.
The main reasion I stay with my Nikon SB series flashes (on a RRS bracket) is camera dedication. Third pary manufactures seem to struggle to keep up with Nikon flash technology.
#2. "RE: Why side mounted pro flash?" In response to Reply # 0
Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
>After spending what seems like an eternity of trial and >error, I have finally sorted the problem of shadow with >flash etc, by sorting myself out with a flash bracket and >cord. However, whilst looking for a more powerful flash >(Metz, Quantum etc) I notice that although they are pro >level kit, they are all side mounted!!! Why is that? It >seems like going forward to go back!! > >Unsightly shadow's will be introduced again!! > >Can someone explain why side-mounting these flash units >suddenly becomes a 'selling feature'? when so much marketing >is done for other products to ensure that the flash is kept >directly over the lens etc?
Placing the flash to the side adds definition to the subject's face. It also causes the shadow you mentioned. You can control the shadow by watching out for the background. As long as there is not a wall behind the subject, the shadow is normally not visible - at least not too obvious. You can also eliminate the shadow by going in tight on your head shots which puts the shadow out of the picture.
I use a Gary Fong LS II diffuser that stays over the camera when in the horizontal orientation, but when I go to vertical, it places it on the top left side. The top left position makes really nice facial definition, but shadows can cause lots of problems if not careful.
To completely fix the shadow problem you have to use a flip bracket. Then, the shadow will always fall behind the subject where it is not visible. However, I find it very clumsy to use something like a Fong LS II on a bracket, so I generally do not use one. I prefer to deal with the shadow and use the LS II in the hotshoe and get the soft face modeling.
#3. "RE: Why side mounted pro flash?" In response to Reply # 0
Shadows are caused by the light bouncing back from a wall and the subject being to close to a wall or curtain or backdrop. Bouncing your flash is more important than a side mounted flash. Bounce flash will give you a more natural distribution of light and eliminate the shadow effect you mention. Also alway remember to keep your subjects at least 4-6 feet from any backdrop, wall, etc.
Any flash that is kept several inches away from the camera will also avoid the dreaded red-eye effect. But bounce flash is always the best method indoors.