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Thread: External Flash for Travel

  1. #1

    Default External Flash for Travel

    Hi all. I'm a newbie here and have been lurking in this forum less than a month ago before deciding to purchase a DSLR (D70) 2 weeks ago in place of my P&S cam. One of the reason for getting this system is for my upcoming trip to Italy this coming Thursday.

    As I've already purchased a 28-300mm lens for nature/land/city-scape and a 50mm lens for portrait and indoor shots, I'm wondering if anyone can advise whether it will be useful or economical for me to purchase and bring along an external flash in place of the built-in flash? I will be taking outdoor shots mostly but may need to take casual group photos at night or indoors. Will the built-in flash be sufficient? I guess this will be similar to using a P&S cam to take such shots, right? What other usefulness does it have for travel purposes that couldn't be accomplished by the built-in flash?

    Thanks all in advance for you advise.

  2. #2

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    bulit in flash tend to give u redeye. just buy the sb600 and use it with a bounce card and go enjoy italy!

  3. #3

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    sb 600....highly recommended too....but a word of advice....bring ya p&s too.....

    from p&s to slr need some time one.....

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by clive
    bulit in flash tend to give u redeye. just buy the sb600 and use it with a bounce card and go enjoy italy!
    Not true for the D70. Have yet to get a single red eye from out of hundreds of portrait shots, same with most D70 owners on DPReview too. Only complaint is that it might not be powerful enough for group shots etc.

  5. #5

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    Thanks for the advise. However, for red-eye, I guess I could go through the more troublesome procedure to remove them using software (which I've been doing so for p&s cam). I just thought that if I were to invest on an external flash, what other usefulness will it have for travel/casual photo taking? Right now I can only think of using it to take group photos at night or dim indoor lights with it. But to get one just to avoid red-eye?

  6. #6

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    It's a worthwhile investment not just for night photography, and definitely will propel you past "causal photography". (nobody buys an external flash just to do that! ) Flash can also be used in bright daylight, acting a fill-in flash to reduce shadows under the nose and chin, not to mention adding a pretty catchlight in the eyes.

    An external flash will give you further reach anytime, e.g. taking a big group shot. It can also be used for bounced flash effect that gives you less harsh shadows indoors.

    A built-in flash will also be blocked by larger lenses.

    Once you master flash photography, you'll never want to shoot with the built-in flash again. Sooner or later you'll need to invest in one.

  7. #7

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    red eye normally external flash do give this prob....coz the flashhead is far away from the lens...

    read something about a 45 degree angle to the lens would cause red eye at certain distances.....thus the build in flash red eye prob...

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Witness
    red eye normally external flash do give this prob....coz the flashhead is far away from the lens...
    I presume you are trying to say "red eye normally external flash don't give this prob..."?

    The closer the flash is to the lens axis, the higher the probability of getting red-eye shots.

    That's why external flashes, further away from the lens axis compared to the built-in flashes, reduces (not eliminates) the probability of getting red-eye shots.

  9. #9

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    Hi all. Thanks again for all your replies. I just thought of another possiblity of having an external flash for travel... to take the inside of buildings such as cathedrals! With their dim indoor lightings and big space, I guess an external flash is a must. Just hope they don't restrict flash photography as I know some do...

    Hopefully the SB600 have been replenished when I hunt for it tomorrow coz they were all sold-out in most of the major shops I asked early last week and the week before... here wishing me luck!

    Thanks for all your help again!

  10. #10

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    italy huh? where flash is needed, its also likely to be prohibited
    cathedrals, museums, blah blah blah... you get the picture yah?
    unless you intend to use the flash as a fill-in light for portraitures, creative shots...
    ...in which case you'll probably also need a tripod!
    so anyways, a tripod will probably be of more use to you over in italy
    cheers!

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebenezer
    With their dim indoor lightings and big space, I guess an external flash is a must.
    An external flash is not a silver bullet for all your lighting needs. The best flash is still the sun. For places like cathedrals where it's so big, the flash probably cannot illuminate the whole place. (People use multiple flashes to photograph places like these.)

    Nevertheless, good decision made on investing a flash. Do take some time to learn flash photography techniques--otherwise it will churn out results only as good as your P&S flash shots, if not worse.

  12. #12
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    Just got my SB600.....get it from Lords....they have plentiful of stocks there.....

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ebenezer
    Hi all. Thanks again for all your replies. I just thought of another possiblity of having an external flash for travel... to take the inside of buildings such as cathedrals! With their dim indoor lightings and big space, I guess an external flash is a must. Just hope they don't restrict flash photography as I know some do...

    Hopefully the SB600 have been replenished when I hunt for it tomorrow coz they were all sold-out in most of the major shops I asked early last week and the week before... here wishing me luck!

    Thanks for all your help again!
    You want to light up big indoor spaces with a dinky little external flash? I hope the flash you are getting is a giant spotlight.

    Best way for taking photos in cathedrals etc that I know of is to use fast lenses and fast film/high ISO.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robin
    Just got my SB600.....get it from Lords....they have plentiful of stocks there.....
    HI Robin,

    I'm Loy here. Happened to lose your contact when i wanted to call you to sell my Nikon 1.4. Would appreciate it if you could kindly call me on this. My contact: 98236248.

    Thank you.

    Regards,
    Loy

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by justarius
    You want to light up big indoor spaces with a dinky little external flash? I hope the flash you are getting is a giant spotlight.

    Best way for taking photos in cathedrals etc that I know of is to use fast lenses and fast film/high ISO.
    Hehe... Actually I will not be trying to take the entire inside of the cathedral with the ext flash, unless it is well lit of course. It'll just be the statuettes and murals on the walls. I have travelled to Europe a few times before with my trusty p&s cam, video cam and most importantly, my tripod. However, this is my first time to Italy (just going to the north-eastern area). If it's the same as anywhere else, flash photography inside a cathedral is usually prohibited. However, I've came to a few that's ok to do so, or sometimes I 'steal' a few shots in those prohibited ones... With my p&s, the pictures usually came out yacky. If I set to high ISO, it's even more yacky with the noise... So with the better ext flash and less noise even on the highest ISO of the D70, I hope I can get good shots at last. I once tried setting up my tripod to take with a lower shutter speed. However, I felt kind-of uncomfortable and embarrass when I see those church goers around me like stare and perhaps wonder what's this guy's doing etc...

    Quote Originally Posted by robin
    Just got my SB600.....get it from Lords....they have plentiful of stocks there.....
    Thanks Robin for the info. I'll check out with Lords this evening after work. Hopefully they'll still be open and the price has not gone up (I believe it's about slightly less than S$400 for the previous batch).

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ebenezer
    Hehe... Actually I will not be trying to take the entire inside of the cathedral with the ext flash, unless it is well lit of course. It'll just be the statuettes and murals on the walls. I have travelled to Europe a few times before with my trusty p&s cam, video cam and most importantly, my tripod. However, this is my first time to Italy (just going to the north-eastern area). If it's the same as anywhere else, flash photography inside a cathedral is usually prohibited. However, I've came to a few that's ok to do so, or sometimes I 'steal' a few shots in those prohibited ones... With my p&s, the pictures usually came out yacky. If I set to high ISO, it's even more yacky with the noise... So with the better ext flash and less noise even on the highest ISO of the D70, I hope I can get good shots at last. I once tried setting up my tripod to take with a lower shutter speed. However, I felt kind-of uncomfortable and embarrass when I see those church goers around me like stare and perhaps wonder what's this guy's doing etc...



    Thanks Robin for the info. I'll check out with Lords this evening after work. Hopefully they'll still be open and the price has not gone up (I believe it's about slightly less than S$400 for the previous batch).
    Most of the major churches and cathedrals don't allow tripods. And flash photography is also usually not allowed, especially if the churches have old murals and paintings to protect. In this sort of situation where circumstances don't allow me to get a decent picture, I get a postcard. Go easy on the flash yah? Leave something for future generations to see.

    Do enjoy Italy though. Venice and Florence are amazing cities, likewise the Tuscany countryside.

  17. #17
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    Be careful with your belongings especially in Italy. Well known for pickpockets. Be on a alert when surrounded by kids. You'll be surprise with what they can pick with their little hands
    If possible lock your backpack with a small padlock.

  18. #18
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    External flash is useful under the broad daylight too. There're times when you want a great depth of field (hence using a small aperture) and the human subjects are under shade (e.g. your friend and you posing under a shade in front of a beautiful countryside scenery).

    With an external flash, you could light up the human subjects sufficiently to be of the same exposure as the background. Without an external flash, you'll either get grossly underexposed humans and porperly exposed background or properly exposed humans and grossly overexposed background. Internal flash is genrally too weak to be used at small aperture of say f11,f16.

  19. #19

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    Thanks Justarius. I'll keep that in mind. I just hope the weather is alright when I reached there coz I heard news that it might be rainy...

    Thanks Adrian for the reminder. I've been to Spain before and almost kana pickpocketed by 3 gypsies who were acting as lost tourist. Quite interesting really; 2 gypsies (obvious from their feature and dess-up) were shoving a map in front of my face asking for direction while the third one tried to pick my pocket from behind. As me and my group of friends were already forewarn to keep an eye on gypsies many times, we obviously knew what they were up to despite the "illogical" setup. We just shoved them away hard and walk away quickly. As usual I was the obvious "target" among my friends because of the DC and VC I carry around my neck... This time, however, I got my Crumpler so hopefully I don't look that "rich"... The usual tips I get when travelling in Europe, other than looking out for gypsies, were to stay away from crowds, strap your belongings tightly on you, lock down all openings of your bags, don't leave your bags to "chop" sits and go away to buy food like most Singaporean do here, don't go out alone at night, stay in well lit area etc. Sometimes I really wonder whether I'm on a vacation coz it's equally stressful, having to watch out constantly... I guess it's the price to pay to avoid being sorry later.

    Thanks for the tip mpenza. For my p&s cam, I usually just let the built-in flash go off when I see that the face is darker than the background. But I see now that I need to know more on how to handle such situation with a DSLR in order to get better pictures. Sigh... I just hope I have time to play and study more on my new ext flash that I only got it just now before I fly off in 3 days time... Hopefully it's idiot proof... (oops.. no *pray* emote... )

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