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Thread: Strobist - SUNPAK 120J PROFESSIONAL

  1. #141

    Default Re: Strobist - SUNPAK 120J PROFESSIONAL

    Hi all,

    Before I start I will like to give a heads-up - the writing for this post is a bit "jumpy?". I will sort of switch to a different subject at some point. If you are new to this thread. I suggest you start from #139 and read from there so you will not get confused.

    Below is the light setup with 120J for 1st wardrobe, my original idea is to use the 120J dome as a background ambient fill and the LEDs as a punch light to lit the face. However I quickly realized this is not possible due to the fact that a 120J with its lowest power is still way too powerful compared to the LEDs. After a few frames I decided I would just use one light (Flash). Now you will notice the over blown up corner at top left. It is so because I was shooting at ISO 3200, I wanted the background to be visible and the feel I go for is sort of a mid (50%) key exposure. So I shot a few test shots without flash to see at what ISO and shutter speed in order to get the background ambient exposure I wanted. After adding flash back in, I noticed the blown out corner but I let it go as the background was more important to me. The 120J lit images is sort of okay I guess, I can still tweak the 120J by shifting it more to the side and pull back further... I decided to switch to LEDs and see what I can get.

    Model is Alexandra (or Alex in short as I called her) This is the first time I worked with an agency model so I was not sure what to expect and was a bit nervous. However the uncertainty quickly faded away when she showed up. Alex is focused and very independent. She is also professional and experience as a model. She arrived early, worked with MUA/Stylist Agnes on wardrobe and gave honest and good feedback when we discussed about the brief. She really knows her stuff. When we talked about the time constraint and the targeted 7 wardrobe changes within 90 mins, both Alex and Agnes expressed their concerns and suggested we do less wardrobe so as to have a better chance in getting good images. I explained to them why, and show them the mood board, the ideas, editorial story line on my ipad and macbook pro. Now I am going side track a bit. Communication is extremely important when you do personal shoot and when you are working with models, mua and stylist as a team. Respect and listen to everyone's point of views and try to work out something, be as clear as possible, if you do not have any references images, then draw it out. I assured them that I would assess the situation and decide while the shoot was ongoing. We reached the location early, had a quick bite and the owner graciously let us have a 15mins extra head-start. When the shoot started, I slowly got blown away by Alex - she warmed up very fast and took art direction well. She adapted and emoted so brilliantly that after 8-9 mins I decided I have also warmed up and proceeded with the actual shoot. I actually allocated 25mins for 1st wardrobe. 10-15mins for warm-up and then 10 mins to get the shot. We completed the 1st wardrobe including warm-up within 15mins. When it came to changing/re-style/touch up, both Alex and Agnes also amazingly did it at a impressive pace- on average 3-5mins. Both Alex and Agnes worked so fast and efficient that we went through 8 changes with 7 wardrobes. In fact we had extra time to repeat one of the wardrobes to shoot another idea I had. In the end we overshot the time by only 5mins.

    Alex is truly awesome and I am totally impressed by what she delivered.

    Setup with LEDs, the result is more pleasing and close to the overall feel/exposure I wanted. The top right is still a tad blown up but I am cool with it. I have to push the LEDs much closer to Alex to lit her as compared to 120J dome which bounced light everywhere. The rim from model's left face and cheek is from the ceiling lights which give it more dimension, a happy accident bonus. Now can the 120J get similar result? Definitely yes. My guess is I would use a 120x80 softbox with grids and no diffuser. The larger size means that I can pull way back and a bit to the side to reduce the flash to better match the ambient background and give Alex a bit more shadows and highlight. The rectangle modifier also would allow me to move the light closer to wall, pillar or table if required.

    The makeup and styling is done by Agnes and she is very confident, creative and had experience working with well known local and foreign photographers. Like Alex, Agnes also has ever worked on magazine editorial (published). She worked really fast and efficient on location, just like you have a female Super rank 50 Master Chief (Halo) on your team. It's surprising to watch the model and MUA who met for the first time could work so seamlessly in an unfamiliar environment. I guess being experienced and professional in their craft are 2 huge factors that made it possible.

    In the end Agnes totally blast me away.

    That's all, everyone. Lastly give a huge shout out to Keanu Reeves's John Wick 2 (check out the wicked cool purple low key lit poster photo). I watched it at it's 1st night preview, It is bloody amazing, refreshing and inspiring to watch. If you have not seen it, please go see it.

    "The Pencil" makes an appearance in Chapter 2. It's Brutal to watch.
    Last edited by wahgongzai; 7th July 2017 at 10:12 AM.

  2. #142

    Default Re: Strobist - SUNPAK 120J PROFESSIONAL

    Hi all, just to share a quick setup for wardrobe #02. This was actually shot with LED video lights. I did try the flash when I shifted to another spot but the images was a bit "meh..." + the scene just did not work out for me. So I reverted back to LED, moved to this new spot, shot a few frames and decided to proceed to wardrobe #03.

    Now would I be able to achieve something similar if I were to use SUNPAK 120J? Yes of course. Not 100% identical, but it should be close with a bit of chimping and tweaking with the light and camera setting. If I were using 120J, the Godox AD-S17 dome diffuser definitely will not work. Instead I will use a 60x90 rectangle softbox with grid. Reason? For me the size and shape allow me to maneuver more easily in small tight spaces. The softbox grid will also constrict the light just like the barn doors on the LED although the latter has the benefit of fine tuning the light spread easily.

    That's all everyone. Stay tuned for next thread when I finally bought a new camera to replace my Nikon D70.
    Last edited by wahgongzai; 8th July 2017 at 04:10 AM.

  3. #143

    Default Re: Strobist - SUNPAK 120J PROFESSIONAL

    Hi all,

    Let's get one thing right before I start - I really adore my Nikon D70. Yes, it is a 6 mega pixels 2004 DSLR, a great, great grandfather of Nikon D7200. The Nikon D70/70s/D40/D1 series have something special - they all use electronic shutters. Lets put all the quirks and cons of electronic shutter aside and discuss one of the biggest advantages they still have over all the "non electronic shutter DSLR" till this day. It can sync flash passed 1/500 to 1/1000 (using radio), 1/500 to 1/4000 (using PC sync/IR/Optic). Now I know High Speed Sync (HSS) can achieve something similar, and the tech has made improvements over the years. Cheaper HSS flash options from Yongnuo and Godox also let people own it without spending a fortune.

    Although I am no expert when come to HSS, I do know that an electronic shutter camera has one advantage over it. HSS is a highly complex process that requires dedicated devices. That means a Profoto B1 HSS can only work with its Profoto B1 trigger (FYI, i don't know about B1, maybe it can work with other HSS devices). For my Nikon D70 I have no such problem. I can use my cheap PT-04/08, or any Pocket Wizard to trigger "almost any" flash at 1/1000. And if for some reason the radio trigger is not working due to external interference, I can switch to PC sync or IR to achieve even faster flash sync speed. Although I love my D70, sad to say its old age has caught up recently. The grip is getting sticky and the CF card slot sometimes is not so responsive during shoot where occasionally it gives an "err" message. The 6 mega pixels is also a bit limiting at times... my iPhone 5 can produce a 8 mega pixels photo. So last year I decided that I will replace my Nikon D70. After the disappointing purchase of Samsung EX-2F, I am more careful in picking what new camera I should buy. I shortlisted Fuji X100T, X70 and Panasonic LX100. In the end X100T was the winner. To double confirm my decision, I rented the X100T and went Hong Kong and did a photo shoot. It did not disappoint me. Now why did I not aim for the newer X100F? Actually I did consider, but when I went Hong Kong during late February this year, the X100F is still not released yet and the price is about S$500 more, as compared to a new X100T. And due to budget, I decided to go with a new X100T.

    Now how well did the new kid X100T fair against the old grandpa D70 using the PCsync, which the Nikon D70 hit the insane 1/8000 (sort of).
    It faired very well as you can see, sync effortlessly side by side with the old timer D70 all the way up to 1/4000. Now the X100T has an electronic shutter that can go up to 1/32 000. Why Fuji put a brake* and limit the flash sync at 1/4000 and not faster? I have no idea, maybe it is a hardware/science physic limit thingy? However the D70 has no brake limit set inside its firmware and it went pass the 1/4000 and hit 1/8000 (the fastest it can go), it did catch the flash but the image sort of got "burn"? I know when I pushed the D70 passed 1/4000, the image's color tends to shift but not this bad with "burn" and "corrupt" image effect? Signs of an old worn out sensor going to retire?
    (*when you switch to electronic shutter, it will disable all flash options)

    How about radio flash trigger, where D70 sync fastest @ 1/1250?

    (From Left 1st and 2nd, Godox FT-16 triggered a Godox Cell II. 3rd image, PT-08 triggered a PT-04 receiver)
    This is surprising! The X100T outperformed the D70 when it came to radio trigger. It sync passed 1/1250 all the way up to 1/2000. At F2.0 it did catch the flash @ 1/4000 although compared to PCsync @ 1/4000. It is significantly darker (radio frequency delay or leaf shutter limit?). Before I bought X100T, i did a lot of read up on the interweb. Based on what I read, the X100T can sync 1/1000 at all F stop. But to go beyond 1/1000, it needs to step down. You can read this from Mr Ken Rockwell review of X100T. 1/1000 all Fstop, 1/2000 from F4 and 1/4000 from F8. I manage to sync 1/2000 @ F2.0 and F2.8 (although the later black out @ 1/4000). More testings are needed, so I can get to know more about X100T limits.

    So conclusion? Is the X100T a replacement for my beloved D70?
    The answer is yes and no... X100T is a totally different camera from D70. It is well received and reviewed by many as a great street photography camera. The "flash sync speed" is just a happy accident due to the mechanical leaf shutter design on the X100.

    What I like about the X100T
    Mechanical Leaf Shutter - able to get fast flash sync at 1/2000-4000, 3-4 stops difference as compared to most non electronic shutter DSLR @ 1/250.
    Compact size made it a great second camera for all types of shoot.
    The optical and electronic viewfinder is refreshing and fun to use.
    The Look - it is a damn handsome camera, I got to admit.

    What I don't like about the X100T.
    Fixed lens (it has options of mounting a wide or tele adapter lens, expensive though...)
    Does not have Flash WB option like the Nikon D70. (Although it does have a "K" - Custom White Balance option)
    Compact size makes it a bit slippery for big hands (I bought a hand grip + thumb grip just to feel safe handling it)
    No dual card slots. (maybe it will have on Fuji X100V?)

    Ultimately the X100T is a good but not the best replacement for my Nikon D70. Personally, as of now I don't think there is any camera that can entirely replace the Nikon D70. Maybe I should write a letter to Nikon? Hmmm...

    (sorry for the crabby drawing, been a while I used a mouse to freehand draw. I sucked)

    Want to know more about Shutter/Flash Synchronization, please check out this Youtube video by Mr Paul Duncan
    Dpreview also wrote an interesting article about Electronic shutter, rolling shutter and flash. Do check it out
    Last edited by wahgongzai; 1st January 2018 at 06:19 PM.

  4. #144

    Default Re: Strobist - SUNPAK 120J PROFESSIONAL

    Hi all, "Something happened" and I am forced to re-edit all my clubsnap posts and threads since 2008 which I will explain why later. This sharing will be a quick one.

    LED facing front slightly on the side, nothing complicated. Just to give a bit more light to the model's face without affecting the overall ambient environment.

    Another photo that I like using the LED as main. Now if I were using 120J and I could move away all the tables and chairs, I would use a 60" reflect umbrella, roughly same position but much further away to fill up the background and add more artificial ambient to the scene. This would let me shoot at higher shutter speed to minimize camera shake. That's all everyone.

    "Something happened"?

    Early July, a big photo news happened. Photobucket decided that they will no longer provide FOC image hosting and broke Billions of photos (hot links) across the world wide web. The news was covered by Petalpixels on 1st July. That day I checked all my image links and they seemed okay? Yesterday early morning, I received the "pay us US$400!" email from Photobucket and sure enough, all my image links have been broken. Anyone who visited this thread yesterday will notice the missing images.

    I started using Photobucket around 2008. During that time I knew about Flickr (later joined 2009). I really like Photobucket html link code which has the image file name in it, enabling me to edit my posts and html easier. Flickr generates a html link code without any of the image name which makes it hard for me to identify by looking at the HTML source page. I understand that Photobucket is a company that needs to make money in order to survive and their decision is comprehensible. However the sudden implementation without any early warning to its user is a bit too much. They also add salt to all users' wounds by providing solely one hosting paid plan of US$400 per year. This is truly a thoughtless business decision. I paid them US$2.50 a month to get ad free and 2GB of image hosting. And for the past 8 yrs, I never exceed 3% of the 2GB data. As a low usage user It makes no sense for me to pay S$550+. I am okay paying but not this ridiculously much.

    So yesterday I scrambled to reload all the images from Page 8 to Flickr. It took me some time. Bizarrely, today all the photobucket links are back (for now), and i am not sure what happen? I have decided to switch entirely to another image hosting platform. However after this incident, I will need time to research which platform suits my needs and hosting fees budget.

    For now, I will re-link all the images from page 6-8 to Flickr by next Tuesday. After I have decided and confirmed a platform, I will proceed to reload the remaining images to the rest of the pages. If you happened to revisit any of the pages and the links are broken, please accept my apology. I will try my best to solve this problem asap.

    I am grateful that Photobucket has given me 8 yrs of good image hosting service, I would like to say "Thank you". However I think you Photobucket have lit yourself on fire. Sorry to say this. I am bailing out from this hot mess you have created. Live Long and Prosper to you... I hope...

    Lastly a kind reminder, if you have any comments or thoughts on the Photobucket Ransom saga, please start a thread or post at CS's General Discussions like Kopitam or General Talk. Thank you and much appreciated.

  5. #145

    Default Re: Strobist - SUNPAK 120J PROFESSIONAL

    Hi all, today I am going to share another method in triggering camera flash or strobe, using Infra Light Flash Trigger.

    Why use infra trigger, instead of your pop up camera flash? For me, there are 2 main reasons:
    First, It won't affect your exposure, because we can't see it and so do our cameras (unless you modified it).
    Second, it syncs faster than radio trigger. How fast? Lets find out and compare it to PC sync cable which syncs at an insane 1/8000 with Nikon D70.

    It syncs effortlessly side by side with PC sync up to 1/4000sec. I forgot to take the 1/8000 test shoot as I was testing out my X100T a few weeks back. The X100T maxed out its flash sync at 1/4000.

    Here is the 1/8000 test shot straight from camera, just resized and nothing else. The IR flash actually fired and it bounced off the white facing wall and triggered the Yongnuo flash's front facing IR slave sensor. Interestingly the EXIF data indicated that the flash was not fired? Not sure what happened... I will do more testing to confirm that in future.

    As always there are pros and cons in every device.

    Pros about IR Trigger
    1. Sync flash up to 1/8000 (Nikon D70)
    2. The IR flash will not add exposure to the photo.
    3. Will work under water with the right waterproof gear.
    4. Almost all optical/IR receiver do not need battery and relatively small in size.
    5. Fairly affordable, easy to find online - used or brand new.
    6. The IR flash will trigger "most" hot shoe camera flash/strobe with built-in slave mode.

    There are many types and designs of IR receivers catered to different needs. Most mid to upper price range flash will also have built-in slave mode which will work with IR flash trigger.

    Cons about IR Trigger
    1. Recycle flash time limitation. The Wein SSR recycles about 1sec but some consumer models may take 5-6secs.
    2. Line of Sight, if the optical/IR receiver can't "see" the "IR flash", it won't fire.
    3. May not work very well under strong ambient light condition (eg, Sunny noon outdoor)
    3. Some IR receivers might misfire by external sources like a a flickering light bulb, thunder lighting or another nearby flash.
    4. IR receiver (seldom though) may fail without warning due to component deterioration and aging.
    5. Effective range is still slightly shorter than radio trigger, 8-10m for cheap IR models and 60-180m for pro IR models.

    For me, if radio trigger is not able to work due to radio interference. I will choose IR flash trigger over PC sync cable when I am using more than 2 lights or I am in an environment where there are a lot of human traffic.

    That's all everyone, hope you find it useful. Lastly Happy 52th Birthday Singapore.
    Last edited by wahgongzai; 9th August 2017 at 09:50 PM.

  6. #146

    Default Re: Strobist - SUNPAK 120J PROFESSIONAL

    Hi all,

    Just a quick sharing for the 5th wardrobe setup. LED close to model on the side, sort of a "Broad lighting" depending on which direction the model's face is facing the light. So if I am using flash (?) what will I do? I think I will used a boom and raise the flash up to mimic a ceiling light effect. The light fall off from top to bottom will give it a bit "dramatic" feel.

    That's all everyone, thanks for dropping by.

  7. #147

    Default Re: Strobist - SUNPAK 120J PROFESSIONAL

    Happy New Year Everyone, 2018 has arrived.
    Heads Up - this post will be my sharing of year end reflection with some gear and photography stuff ranting and what new things may happen in 2018.

    Last year I tried to do Polaroid Gal #07. The project was again (...I know, I know) put on hold when one important part of the plan did not go so well. I won't elaborate on what this part is, but is something I really wanted to try. Since it's my first try then, I think I will tweak my approach and try again. As my favorite movie quote goes - Never give up, never surrender!

    2017 is definitely not a creative bleak year in terms of photography. I did do a few personal and paid photography projects which I gained interesting experience in term of transporting/handling gear and on location workflow. One of the personal shoots I did, instead of using flash and big modifiers, I used solely LED video lights. LED lights are really cool tools. They work well in small tight spaces and enable me to shoot much faster as compared to flash. Of course LED are not perfect. I have to shot at high ISO 800 and above because the light output is not strong enough and the LED lights are not ideal for long day shoot unless you are prepared to bring lots and lots of batteries. The shoot lasted about 6 hours - 4 hours into the shoot, all 5 LED lights chewed through all 15 NP-F550/750 batteries. In the end I had to charge and swapped the drained batteries continuously on the fly...not fun. Despite the few cons, the LED video lights will definitely still be an indispensable lighting tool inside my gear bag in the future.

    I will also be looking into buying and trying new gear/accessories and possibly a new bare bulb flash beside 120J. Reason? After 8 years of using my 120Js, 3 of my 120J are out of commission 1 by 1 from mid to late 2017. I hope I can get them repaired but this did prompt me into looking for a 120J alternative as I am now only down to 4 set of 120J. Comparing to the availability of Bare Bulb Small Flash similar to 120J, I have much more options now than in year 2009 (back than only Quantum Qflash, great flash but super expensive) . The price of flash and strobe has also become more competitive when China makers like Godox, Phottix and etcs started making strobes. In addition I will also be sharing some cool accessories I bought last year that can be used with 120J in the strobist mini tips post.

    The 3 set of 120J strangely all shared the same problem. The flash output adjust would not work and could only fired at 1/1 power.

    Stay tuned for more strobist mini tips and sharing of new gears that I used together with the 120J

    2017 was mostly a good year for photography world. Of course, life is not a bed of roses. We saw companies like Bowen closed shop, Lexar exits its memory card/reader business. New55 forced to end its short-lived 4x5 peel film line and lastly Fuji killing more of its film products. On the bright side, we see the new life of Polaroid Originals with their instant film price finally reduced (not much but is a good start) and introduced a New cheap US$100 Polaroid film camera. LED light technology is maturing and prices have dropped sharply compared to 2016. The release of "Jack of all trade" Sony A7RIII and Nikon D850, caused an influx of Sony A7RII and Nikon D800 into the used market at very good prices. 2018 is definitely a good year to shop for used gear.

    That's about it. Thank you for dropping by from time to time. Wishing you all a Happy Happy New Year.

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