Good Afternoon Everybody,
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I can't believe it's Friday already. We are going to try to take off a bit early today so let's get right to today's post.
"Flash Power Demystified"
I received lots of emails and even questions during our "Captured By The Light 2010" tour [link] about flash power. People will ask if they can do the same kind of lighting with their Nikon SB800, SB900, or Canon 580 strobes as I do with my Quantum T5d-r strobe.
Well, the answer is of course, yes. Remember, it's just light and light - is light - is light. The difference in the strobes mentioned is the rated power output of each one. I think this is where some of the confusion occurs. So today, let me give you the low down on the output power of each strobe and then we will take the discussion further.
Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.
Flash Power Output Per Model
DAZNOTE: Without going into a lot of confusing explanations of what a watt-second is, let's just say it's a measurement of the strobes power or light output. The bigger the number, the more light per flash cycle.
Quantum T5d-r with Turbo battery: 150 watt-seconds. This is my choice by the way.
Quantum Trio powered by Turbo battery: 80 watt-seconds of fire power as fast as you want to shoot without ever over heating.
Nikon SB800: Also about 50 watt-seconds.
Nikon SB900: About 80 watt-seconds. Be careful, I've heard several reports that shooting these puppies at "full tilt boogie" will cause them to overheat and shut down till they cool off.
How I Shoot, How You May Shoot
Now let the discussion begin. I shoot the Quantum T5d-r attached to one of their turbo batteries. As I said, that gives me about 150 watt-seconds of fire power which is pretty sweet when I need lots of power for off camera flash outdoor shooting.
DAZNOTE: Remember, when shooting outdoors I'm limited to the flash sync speed on my camera, about 1/250 second. That means I need to use smaller apertures when shooting outdoors. And smaller apertures mean I need more flash power to make the exposure.
Sure, you can get by with the shoe mount flashes, but you would need three of them to equal the flash output of my Quantum. At that point, you are near the cost of the Quantum and have to deal with 3 strobes instead of one. That just complicates issues too much for me, hence my single strobe.
On the other hand, most of my wedding day shooting is NOT at full power, but usually hovers around 1/4 or 1/8 power when shooting through my Zumbrella. That puts you within striking distance of the power output of the shoe mount strobes.
So could you use your show mount strobe to shoot through an umbrella? Of course. Just be sure to pull out the wide angle diffuser so you get the maximum light spread out of the strobe to get full use out of the Zumbrella.
OK, remember too, if you are firing your shoe mount strobe at it's full 50 watt-second output, you will drain the batteries pretty quickly. The easy work around, goose your ISO to a higher setting. I personally would have no problem shooting at ISO 800-1600. That would give me plenty of lower power flashes to complete the shoot.
So, when you read at DPT that I shoot my Quantum at 1/4 power, that means I'm dumping about 40 watt-seconds of power per flash. If you want to duplicate the shot with your shoe mount flash, just shoot it at near full power for the same result.
If you read that I shot the image at 1/2 power or about 80 watt-seconds, know that you could use the Quantum Trio or Nikon SB900 flash and obtain the same result. To get the same result with your SB800 or 580EXII flash, just open up a stop or double your ISO.
DAZNOTE: This is important to note. I shoot my off camera flash on manual ALL THE TIME! I suggest you do the same even if you are shooting shoe mount strobes. It just gives you tighter control over the finished result.
I didn't want today's post to turn into some super long dissertation on flash photography. I know the discussion could go on forever. I mainly wanted to draw some comparisons to the strobe I use and I thought you might want to compare light output-wise to the strobes you may be using.
Now when you see my power settings listed you can easily translate that into what you need to do with your strobes if your are using different strobes than my chosen favorite. Hope it helps.
Related article links:
Quantum Strobes [link]
Canon Strobes [link]
Nikon strobes [link]
Hey gang, That's it for me today. We've got bags to pack and vans to load. It's off to Nashville for the next leg of my CBTL2010 tour. I hope to lots of you next week in Music City.
Have a good one and I'll see ya' on Monday.
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