Zoom setting with softbox and other diffusers?
In his book, "Using the Nikon Creative Lighting System", Mike Hagen says that one would not want to activate the automatic zoom function of an SB800 if one place diffusion ("like a Gary Fong Lightsphere or Lumiquest soft box") over the flash. However, he does not say which zoom setting one should use in those circumstances.
I usually use the automatic zoom function even though I use diffusers with my SB800s and SB900. Which zoom settings do you use when using diffusers? Wider or narrower than the lens setting? I use the Gary Fong whaletails and Lastolite softboxes (also a small Photoflex softbox on occasion). Have I missed something basic?
I do use a longer zoom setting if bouncing the flash. That is pretty intuitive..just estimate how much farther the light has to travel as opposed to the camera to subject distance.
Tell me what I don't understand about how to use the diffusers with the flashes. I will appreciate your help. This is a bit time critical since I am taking some pics at my Mother's birthday party this weekend.
#1. "RE: Zoom setting with softbox and other diffusers?" | In response to Reply # 0
jherrel Nikonian since 08th Apr 2007Thu 15-Jul-10 12:46 PM
When you place a Nikon diffuser or a Gary Fong diffuser on you flash, it will depress the small button on the flash head which sets the zoom angle to wide open. Nikon assumes that if you want diffusion, that setting the zoom angle to wide open will give you the best result. If you want to control the zoom angle with a diffuser on, you have to "notch" the diffuser so it doesn't depress the switch. Then you can set the zoom angle.
Nikonian from South Carolina
See the light, capture the essence!
#2. "RE: Zoom setting with softbox and other diffusers?" | In response to Reply # 1
gkaiseril Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005Thu 15-Jul-10 02:36 PM | edited Thu 15-Jul-10 02:38 PM by gkaiseril
Sto-Fen makes a diffuser that has stubs on one mounting edge that prevent the micro switch from being depressed so you can control whether the zoom feature is enabled or disabled.
My Nikonian Galleries
#3. "RE: Zoom setting with softbox and other diffusers?" | In response to Reply # 0
Hi John and George,
Thanks for your replies. Neither the Whaletail nor the softboxes I use cause the button on the flashes to be depressed, thereby limited the zoom to 14 or 17mm. So I can zoom away. The question is whether I should set the zoom to match the lens width or at a wider setting. Since the purpose of the diffusers is to get softer light I doubt that one would want to zoom the flash to a narrower setting than the lens width. However I would like some input on this. So far my practice has been to pretty much just matach the lens setting.
#4. "RE: Zoom setting with softbox and other diffusers?" | In response to Reply # 3
gkaiseril Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005Thu 15-Jul-10 05:19 PM
When the Speedlight is off the camera, most photographers want the broadest light coverage possible to cover a wide area or large group. Now if one want to concentrate the light to a smaller area, then the zoom could help or one attachs a grid, barn doors, snoot, etc. Many of the light modifiers for remote lights are designed for adding key and hair lights or focusing the light to a specific area.
When the Speedlight is on the camera matching the focus of the light to the lens's focal distance gives the Speedlight a little more reach for the telephoto lenses. And then for lenses over 300mm focal length one can add the Better Beamer and get added distance or a little more POP on the subject.
As to anyone setting the flash's zoom to so the light beam has a FOV narrower than the lens's FOV of the lens, I would ask Joe McNally.
My Nikonian Galleries
#5. "RE: Zoom setting with softbox and other diffusers?" | In response to Reply # 4
Thu 15-Jul-10 07:32 PM
Hello again George,
I was not specific enough in my question. I have in mind a portrait situation where the off-camera flash is being used as the key light, using the modifiers I described. Of course the composition will affect this so there are a lot of variables. The light modifiers will spread the light and, I think, in most cases a fov wider than that of the lens is "wasting" light be spreading it beyond the frame. However, I am not sure about this. Of course, as you say, if one wants to have a more directed fov (hair light, etc.) one would want to narrow the fov.
I should have been more specific and clear with my question. Thanks for your input.