Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Photo FAVS Wednesday: Why I Took The Quantum Leap

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Photo Favs wed Yep, it's another afternoon post.  I know posts are coming out a little slower than usual this week, but 'tis the season to be in "low gear". I love the time between Christmas and New Years.  Phones are quieter and we're working with a skeleton crew at the studio so not too much activity.  It's just good to get caught on all the things that have been put on the back burner over the last several months.

From a studio management point of view, it gives all of us, me, LaDawn, and my entire team, a chance re-charge and re-invigorate ourselves for the new year.  It's been a policy that's been in place around here for quite a number of years, and I have to say,  "I love it."  It is certainly the pause that refreshes before starting the race for another exciting year.

Anyway, let's get on with Photo FAVS Wednesday - here we go...

Why I Took The Quantum Leap

Quantum T5DrOK, I know the title of today's post probably gives away what my Photo FAV is today.  If you guessed my Quantum T5d-R strobe, you are correct.  My Quantum flash is probably the single most important piece of equipment in my gear bag, next to my camera, that is.

Everybody knows that "my gig" is lighting, particularly off-camera  flash. So many shooters these days are simply satisfied with the simple lighting of their on-camera flash or no flash at all. I think that's too bad or should I say so sad for the shooter AND the client.

Off-camera flash opens up wonderful new doors of opportunity for photographic creativity, excellence, and imagery. Sorry, I feel myself climbing up on my "soap box" again, so before I get too "revved up" let me get back to telling you why it's one of my Photo FAVS.

Hit the "Read More..." link below to see my top 5 reasons why my Quantum T5d-R strobe is one of my Photo FAVS.

Here is the quick 5 point list:

1. It's got power to spare.

Here is the deal - most on-camera flashes are rated at about 50 watt-seconds.  A watt-second is a measure of the flashes real output.  No smoke and mirrors here, it's an absolute measurable number based on capacitor storage energy and lots of other electronic things that are going on in a flash unit. You can find the "super geek' explanation right here.

That means for the same flash output, I would need 3, count them, three on-camera flashes to get the same light output. Considering the cost of Nikon and Canon's on-camera flashes, that just about covers the cost of the Quantum and a Turbo 2x2 battery.

DAZNOTE: Many times I'm asked about Quantum's Trio.  I love the Trio for an on-camera flash.  It doesn't overheat and you can shoot with it like crazy till the battery dies. But, you've got to remember that's it's only rated at 80 watt seconds - half the power of my     T5d-R. 

 0027-Chapter 9 -0001-IMG_5709-EditDoes it work well as an off-camera flash?  My answer is, "Most of the time. As long as you are not in a "high ambient light" situation like bright sun, it works great."  The Trio is actually my strobe of choice for my Master Classes. 

But if you are in a bright light situation, for example, late afternoon shooting, you need all the "snot" (LaDawn hates it when I use that word) you can get out of that off-camera flash.  That's why I like the Quantum T5d-R for my remote flash.  150 watt seconds - Power to the people, eh ...photographer!

2. I can shoot most of the day on one Turbo battery.

With the new high ISO cameras I'm usually shooting at ISO800 for most of the day.  That means that the flash output is reduced by half had I been shooting at ISO 400.  Read that to mean that I get 2x the flashes per charge because of the higher ISOs at which I like to shoot.

When shooting over 3000 shots at a wedding, I'm more than covered with the Quantum flash powered by my Turbo 2x2 battery.

3. I can dial down the power to 1/128 power.

I know what you're thinking, "Why would anyone shoot at such a low power setting?"  There are times when using wider apertures for a shoot, say when I really want to throw the background out of focus, that I really like dialing down the Quantum's power to still give me the direction of light I'm looking for without over-exposing the subject. A nice benefit.

4. It has a fast recycle time - perfect for wedding candids.

When we're shooting candids at the wedding reception, things are moving fast and the action, at many points of the evening, is non-stop. My off-camera flash is "key" for the look and feel of my images I deliver to my clients. 

When shooting my Quantum at, say 1/8 to 1/2 power, the recycle time is almost instantaneous - plenty fast to capture all the action.  Remember, my higher ISO settings let me get away with those lower power settings.  Hey, all part of my wedding technique.

004-IMG_6715 5. It's a perfectly portable "studio light" when I pair it up with my Zumbrella.

My Quantum T5d-R strobe shooting through my Zumbrella is about the fastest, easiest way to place a great quality of light on nearly any portrait situation.  For me, it's about the quickest and most portable lighting solution possible and I use this combo exclusively for all my on-location portrait situations.  My mantra, "Simple is always better!" Hey, it's light - give it some softness and direction by shooting throw my Zumbrella and you have a "portable portrait studio" always ready to go.

Hey gang, I could think of many more reasons, but these are the main reasons I've been using a Quantum flash for lots of years.  By the way, my original Quantums, over 15 years old, still work "good as new".


Folks, that going to be it for today. I'm out of here. Be sure to stop back tomorrow for another episode of Business Day Thursday entitled, "What Have I Done Right, What Have I Done Wrong - Time To Think About It."  I think you will enjoy the post.

See ya' tomorrow, -David


  1. Do you use an umbrella for ALL your reception candids? For the weddings I do, space prohibits such use. Hence, I am feathering my on-camera flash or bouncing off a wall. Thanks, Brian F.

  2. David,
    I couldn't agree with you more regarding lighting. It really PISSES ME OFF to hear/see BS that some shooters pull by cranking iso to 6400 and calling their work artistic. There's nothing wrong with using ambient light, but most folks I'm referring to have no clue how to utilize ambient light.
    Personally, I feel that they are afraid of using flash (on/off camera) that's why claim that they use "natural light" only.