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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.

  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 a 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.

  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...)
    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

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