Sunday, April 15, 2018

Upping my Game...


Also in this issue:
  • Other ways to get a blurry background
  • A-Mount to E-mount Adapter Nuances
  • Portrait Lighting Workshop (and other events)
  • And more...

Upping My Game

For over 20 years I've prided myself on making "Wow!" images using pretty modest equipment.  I was one of the earliest proponents of wireless flash when Minolta introduced it to the world in the 1990's.  I used it extensively in my travels to add better light with the greatest of ease.  

But over the years I slowly started to hit its limitations.  It wouldn't reliably trigger outdoors (or in a large gym, as I discovered on an important shoot); and the intensity of the flash would be severely reduced when trying to "overpower the sun" using High-Speed Sync (HSS).

Recently I wanted to "up my game" and start taking outdoor portraits using fast glass wide open.  That almost always means using a fast shutter speed, necessitating either a camera with a leaf shutter in the lens (like the Sony RX-10 or Fujifilm X100 series) or using a powerful strobe capable of High-Speed Sync (HSS).  Essentially, what I wanted was the benefits of modern technology so I could do portraits that would wow my customers (and possibly other photographers).  And it meant triggering via radio instead of using the wide and narrow pulses coming from the on-camera flash.


And so I've acquired three new radio-controlled Godox flashes: The AD600, AD200, and the TT350S, and have been putting them through their paces for the last few weeks.  

Godox flashes sell under the brand name "Flashpoint" by Adorama in the US, and "Neewer" in Europe.

After extensive testing my first real shoot was with the awesomely talented singer / songwriter Melissa K. Harding.  (Listen to her creations on Spotify, or learn more about her at www.melissaharding.com .)  As always, click on any of the images to see them larger and sharper.

Keep your subject in shade and light them the way you want.  This was the basic lighting setup - and AD200 and an umbrella.  Aperture Priority mode, lens wide open.  Spot metered for the background and let the TTL flash figure out the light for the subject.
AD200 with umbrella to left, TT350S behind providing the hair light.  I would have taken a behind-the-scenes shot but a car was coming.
I don't know why I like this one...
Here we wrapped the tiny flash in a paper tube to make it a spotlight, and exposed for the ambient studio light.
People think you have to go for the exotic glass to have that magnificent out-of-focus "bokeh" in the background, like the Zeiss 135mm f/1.8 lens (left).  But if your background is far enough away compared to the subject distance, you can get by with the much more affordable (and just as sharp) f/4 lens (right). 
I'm writing a much more detailed review of the Godox flashes (along with some bugs I found) for an upcoming issue of Cameracraft magazine.  Spoiler alert: These flashes seem to be more accurate on Auto than when using a Sony flash, which is weird because I thought it was the camera body which determined flash intensity, not the flash itself.

Seminars and Workshops

The Friedman Archives High-Impact Photography Seminars are being planned for the 2nd half of the year, including Atlanta, Georgia; Boulder, Colorado, and Scottsdale, Arizona.  Let me know if you'd like to be on the waiting list for any of these cities at Gary at Friedman Archives dot com.

There's also a new event scheduled for July - a Portrait Lighting Workshop, co-hosted by myself and Master Portrait Photographer Brian Ramage.  A chance to get true hands-on practice under the guidance of two pros who do a pretty gosh darned good job with this stuff.  This one-day event will occur on July 28th in Huntington Beach, California.  Enrollment is open now, and be sure to use the early sign-up discount code reubal to get $50 off!


In the Pipeline

Sony A7 III - Pre-order now at a special price!
Fujifilm X-H1 - Pre-order now at a special price! 

A-mount to E-mount Adapters 

This is for you Sony shooters who have A-mount lenses and want to use them on an E-mount body.  Sony has 4 such adapters: the LA-EA1, LA-EA2, LA-EA3, or LA-EA4, and choosing between them used to be an easy decision: the even-numbered adapters always gave the best performance.  Then Sony introduced E-mount cameras with native phase-detect AF, and the nuanced decision became less cut-and-dried.

To help demonstrate the nuanced behavior, I've put together this short video (because if you were to read the same information your eyes would just glaze over):



Here's the extended summary for those of you who don't want wade through a 13-minute video, enhanced by youtube viewer "Lofote":

  1. Screwdriver-driven lens?  LA-EA 2 or 4.  (If you don't need autofocus, then you can use LA-EA1 or 3.)
  2. SSM / SAM lens and APS-C body: LA-EA1.  The LA-EA1 isn't being made anymore, so you can substitute the LA-EA3 instead.
  3. SSM / SAM lens and any full-frame body except A7R: LA-EA3
  4. Camera that has “NEX” in name, the original A7, A6000, A5000, A3000, A3500, A7S, and A7S II: LA-EA2.  Since the LA-EA2 isn't being made anymore, you can substitute the LA-EA4 instead.
  5. Sony A7R: LA-EA4

(Don't forget to watch the alternative ending at the end! :-) )

Next time: I can't imagine blogging about taking engagement pictures.  But the ones I'll share next time are special...



Until then,
Yours Truly, Gary Friedman

20 comments:

  1. Interesting and timely as I recently acquired a Fujifilm X100F, leading me to read Tony Phillips' Complete Guide, which convinced me to try daylight off-camera flash. TTL management of radio triggered flash seemed the most convenient way to go, so I invested in a Nissin Di700A/Air1 bundle for Fujifilm cameras. The X100F ND filter is a big help in achieving good bokeh and vivid pictures in strong natural light, boosted by off-camera flash.

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  2. Yes, Godox!!!
    I use three TT685[S] with the X1T [S] radio Trigger, and that works Fine with my Sony A7S and A7R3. In Europe you can find them as Godox (brand name)

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  3. I use 3 TT 685 (S) speedlights with the X1T(S) Trigger. All works fine with my Sony A7S and A7R3. You'll find them in Europe also under the brand name Godox. Good price too!

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  4. Hi Gary
    will the godox's work with an a77ii
    keep the stories coming and information always a great read !!
    thanks
    Bruce

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Bruce. They most certainly will work with the A77 II!

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    2. Hi Bruce,
      Yes and perfectly! I have an a77II with three Godox TT685(s) and X1T(s).
      The only "problem" I have is I cannot figure how to optically trigger a godox speedlight with the a77ii's integrated flash. I have to use the X1T. It is not a big drawback.

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    3. I have not been able to have the Godox units work with the native Sony TTL optical flash protocol either. I can have it work as a "dumb" slave triggering on the 1st (S1) or 2nd (S2) flash pulse but neither of these settings are effective.

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  5. excellent thanks Gary just becme a real estate agent and need to hide lights around corner behind walls etc and wireless just doesn't quite do the job
    thanks
    Bruce

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  6. Thanks as always. RE: Adapters. It is rather confusing. You write that the Sony A7R needs the LA-EA4, therefore I assume the new A7III (no R) also requires the LA-EA4, correct? Thanks.

    BTW, some dealers have the LA-EA4 on sale so it is possible that Sony might release a new model soon. Maybe.

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    Replies
    1. NOT correct. The only reason I singled out the original A7R was because it dosn't have any baked-in phase detect AF; and therefore it will be just as poor as the demonstration of the NEX-7 with the LA-EA1 in the video.

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    2. Thanks Gary. I am still unclear as to which adapter is best for my A7III and my two A-mount, G series lenses: 70-300 and 70-400. I assume I should go with the LA-EA4. Thanks.

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    3. @Pontiac 1940, if your lenses are the screwdriver blade-driven type (see video on how to tell), then the LA-EA4 is the right choice. Otherwise, LA-EA3 will allow the most advanced AF features to be used.

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    4. Thank you Gary. Have a couple of old screw type Minoltas, but only use the 100-mm macro that is usually used MF anyway. The G series will be fine. Titch concerned about the reduced AF features in the 4 vs 3. Will field test a 4 from the dealer tomorrow. Love the A7III. Nice.

      Thank you!

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  7. Does you know the equivalent NEEWER model numbers for the AD200 and TT685S?
    Best wishes
    Terry

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    Replies
    1. Godox TT685s = Neewer NW880S
      Godox AD200 = Neewer AD200

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  8. Thanks. Interestingly the Godox tt865s and newer nw880s are available for more or less the same price on amazon.co.uk. The newer ad200 listed as out of stock and no date for new stock on amazon.co.uk
    I look forward to the detailed review.

    Best wishes
    Terry

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  9. Hi, I watched your video on the different E-A adapters and thought I'd bought the wrong one, the LA-EA4. However when I (re)tried it with the following lenses (see below) on both the A6000 and the A7ii they all worked (on AF) with various degrees of speed. I'd appreciate your thoughts (on top of those aired in your video). Thanx Tim.
    Sony DT 1.8/35 SAM
    Sony 3.5-6.3/18-250
    Sony 2.8/70-200 SSM
    Sigma 105 1:2.8 DG Macro HSM

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    Replies
    1. The only time the LA-EA4 is not the best choice is if you have an A7R III or later, have an SSM / SAM lens and want to use the advanced focusing features like Eye AF.

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    2. Hi Gary, Thanx for your reply, that puts my mind at rest. Tim

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  10. I loved your photos.Thanks Gary for sharing your experiences with us

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