Hello Nikonians. I am new to this website and fairly new to photography. Therefore, I have many questions.
First of all, I have a Velbon DF 40 tripod, which is made with dual functions -- camera & video mount. I like its lightness very much. However, I notice that when I tilt my N80 with SB 28 mounted and zooming lens of 70-300 mm D to 90 degree for vertical shot, the tripod is not as stable as I like it to be. Should I invest in another tripod for better stability without spending too much money and compromising the light weight? I'm doing this research by taking a survey to see which tripod is mostly recommended by Nikonians for my case.
In addition, since I like to get a holder for the reflector in the near future, is it true that the reflector holder can be mounted on any tripod, including my current Velbon? If not, what tripod should I purchase for the reflector holder? Any brand suggested for reflector, holder, and tripod? On the same topic -- tripod, which one can I buy in order to mount my SB 28 in case I do not want to mount it on top of my Stroboframe 350? If such is the case, the SC 17 is still usable, correct?
Since I like to capture natural sun light as much as possible, one way to do it is to redirect sunlight with a reflector when subject is not well lit, is it true that reflector with gold on one side and silver on the other side would be the best choice to purchase for portrait shot?
For home potrait as pure personal hobby, should I buy a light box? If so, what size and what wattage power? I like to get a strobe light to place between the back of subject and the background canvas in case I like to high light the details of hair or fur on clothing, any recommendation on such equipment?
I have read that many Nikonians using slave flash with SU 4. Should I invest in this in addition to all the equipments I just mentioned for home portrait, i.e. having the slave flash point at subject while being 45 degree way from camera position? Am I overkilling here, or will I eventually need all this for my hobby?
By the way, what's the difference between setting the N80 on automatic vs. using an external light meter? If I use an external light meter, it will tell me the settings. Why not set the N80 on automatic or use the suggested metering system inside N80 and not waste any money? I know that it's a dumb question because many people are still buying light meters and huge amount of money on those too, but I need to ask to find the logic. Thank you all for taking the time to read my post and answer my questions.
#1. "RE: New to photography" | In response to Reply # 0BJNicholls Charter MemberThu 04-Oct-01 04:23 PM
Whew! Lots of questions. I'll answer a few based on what I use.
If your Velbon feels weak for your N80, it probably is. There are so many ways you could go to upgrade, I'll just offer the brand I consider the best compromise between price and quality: Manfrotto (Bogen in USA). You'll need to do some research to figure out what works for you in size, weight and cost. Read some of the threads here on the subject.
I use the collapsible disk type reflectors (Photodisc in my case, but there are others). It's better and less expensive to use photo stands as supports for reflectors and lighting than to use a tripod, although you can use a tripod with the right adapter. However, most times you are setting up with lightstands, you'll need a tripod for your camera too.
I use an arm with spring clamps to hold the reflectors. This mounts to the stud that comes on top of most lightstands, or on older lightstands it just fits on the thinnest top section of tubing.
I use Photoflex XTC softboxes with my Speedlights. You can create a lighbox effect with a big diffusion panel, too. If I were buying now, I'd go with the convertible panels that can be transluscent, white, silver or gold depending on what panel face you zip around the frame.
One thing you'll bump up against with a home studio is that it's often impossible to visualize the lighting from a Speedlight. With no modelling light to help you, or a Polaroid back to check the setup, you end up guessing and hoping a lot. The answer for me is a CoolPix 990 digital camera. I can check a setup and then switch to my film bodies if I need the resolution.
What you need depends on what you want to achieve. I'd advise you add only an item or two at a time to solve a particular problem that you are facing. Don't go out and buy a ton of lighting equipment only to find out that you would be better off with, say photofloods rather than many electronic flashes.
Also, be creative. A lot of lighting stuff is convenient and time saving, but you can often rig up something that will do the job in a pinch without spending a lot of money...
#3. "RE: New to photography" | In response to Reply # 2jrp Charter MemberThu 04-Oct-01 11:36 PM
Have a great time :-)
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#4. "RE: New to photography" | In response to Reply # 3Ed Basic MemberFri 05-Oct-01 03:28 AM
> Should I invest in another tripod for better stability
> without spending too much money and compromising the light
Yes, Bogen is the most popular brand due to its cost vs. effectiveness ratio. I have an old battered aluminum Bogen 3021.
> is it true that the reflector holder can be mounted on
> any tripod, including my current Velbon?
You probably need a clamp to attach the holder to, then the clamp goes on the tripod leg. But as BJ said, this is not ideal for portraits. It's perfect for macro subjects though! The cheapest way is to get an assistant/friend to hold the reflector, that is, unless you're paying for his time. Sometimes depending on the light, the subject themselves can hold the reflector.
> which one can I buy in order to mount my SB 28 in case
> I do not want to mount it on top of my Stroboframe 350?
> If such is the case, the SC 17 is still usable, correct?
If you're using the SC-17, the SC-17 screws right onto the stud of tripods and light stands. If you're not using the SC-17, there are many doodads at the camera store that will hold the flash and screw on the tripod/light stand. Some even have the PC sync cord for triggering.
> is it true that reflector with gold on
> one side and silver on the other side would be the
> best choice to purchase for portrait shot?
Silver is color-neutral while gold warms up the reflected light and gives your subjects more vibrance on a flat day.
> Should I invest in this in addition to all the
> equipments I just mentioned for home portrait, i.e.
> having the slave flash point at subject while being 45
> degree way from camera position? Am I overkilling here, or
> will I eventually need all this for my hobby?
I use an SB-24, and 2 Vivitars, all on manual power. I also use photo-floods, sometimes bounced into umbrellas, atop cheap light stands. For triggering I use Wein peanut slaves. Right now, it is a personal hobby so I probably won't spend much more than this at this stage. This equipment is not expensive. A new SB-28 probably costs a lot more than the total of all this, but they serve my current needs, and I get nice portraits of my kids and their cousins on a regular basis. The only expensive gear I bought for home-portraits is my Minolta Flashmeter IV. That was definitely overkill for me then but I'm happy to say I use almost all of its features even today. But any cheap used flashmeter would do for home portraits. I'd advise against TTL with multiple strobes. I hope I answered that question, even if in a round-about way.
> By the way, what's the difference between setting the N80
> on automatic vs. using an external light meter?
An external light meter can be the incident type or the reflected type. The incident light meter measures the amount of light falling on the subject (depends on how you point the dome). It does not get fooled by the reflectivity of the subject, so black comes out black and white is white. All depends on where the dome is pointed though. I have an incident-type flashmeter which I use to measure the ratio between my strobes during portraits, and of course tells me what aperture to use.
The reflected light meter acts similar to your N80. From where you stand, it measures the light reflecting from your subject, but it's dumb, whereas your N80 has the smarts. It only measures the reflected light as compared to a known value: 18% gray. The amount of deviation from 18% gray gives you your reading. OTOH, your N80 uses matrix metering that is computer-aided, much more complex and therefore gives you more accurate readings.
Hope this helps,
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