You Gotta Learn To Flex

My father and I are just returning today from Photoshop World that was in Orlando, Florida. If you are a photographer or anyone who enjoys photography or anything to do with Photoshop, this is the place for you. They cycle Orlando, Las Vegas and Boston. This is really great as it allows pretty much everyone around the country to have access to this type training. As great as all of the classes are and taking “shop” with other photographers and graphics people, there is one place you should stay out of…the expo floor.

The expo floor is the “holy grail” for gear stuff. If you want it, someone on the floor has it. This is where you may want to “leave home without it”, sorry Visa. My father and I bought a ton of gear here last time (is my wife reading this?). All of the vendors have “show” specials and most vendors are based out of state so they don’t charge sales tax. Here is what I have found, if you are going to attend something like this, save it all for the show. Since, I had to buy one piece of equipment in quantity this year, I asked for a better deal and I GOT IT! Vendors don’t want you to be hanging on to thousands of dollars of merchandise and walk away to the next vendor because of a little “discount” problem. I approached the vendor and I was interested in a certain piece of equipment. I asked the price. The price was $20 under mail order prices. This was good, but here is where it gets better, I asked what was the price if I bought “lots”. I told them the quantity that I wanted and he went and talked with the owner. I got them to knock off another $20 per unit. Now we are dealing. I told them to bag em’. It was a win – win for everyone. So what was this precious item?

Meet the new PocketWizard Flex TT5 (Nikon)
If you have been reading this site, then you know that I’m into off camera flash. Thus, far I have been using Nikon’s SU-800 Commander to trigger my flashes wirelessly. This works great….when it works. If it’s to bright out, or there is no line of sight, no flash. The one feature that I really like about the SU-800 is that I had the ability to change the flash power from the camera. This is a huge time saver when you are in front of the client. I have been looking at many different radio sync companies. PocketWizard is the Cadillac in radio syncs. I almost bought the Plus II because, no one, and I mean no one had anything bad to say about these. Only one issue, you had to go to the flash to change the power. Thinking ahead in our little company’s future, what if I had to shoot a sports event and bury the lights in the rafters? How was I going to be able to adjust them? Then someone told me about the new Mini/Flex system that was under development. The big thing with this is that you can use your camera’s TTL function. I’m a manual guy so that really didn’t do anything for me. However, you have the option to shoot manual and use a “commanding” device to control the flash units. Since I already have a SU-800, I was all set. They created the first set for Canon, and they ran into a RF noise issue with some of the Canon flashes. This put a ding in PocketWizards reliability record. They worked through it and got it fixed. Now it was Nikon’s turn. Everything that they learned from the Canon experience they checked with the Nikon equipment. Three years later, they are now on the market.

This isn’t a review of the units themselves however, I wanted to let you know a couple of things. First off, if you are thinking about buying these……BUY THEM! They worked perfectly out of the box. Do read the Quick Start Manual that comes with them and check your firmware. I did both and all was well. I had one function that was not working and I checked PocketWizards site and quickly found the solution. PLEASE NOTE: Go to PocketWizards site and make sure that you camera and flash combo is compatible with the new system.

I had read all about this new “hypersync” technology. This is a new technology that PocketWizard has developed with the new Mini/Flex units. This allows you to sync up to…..(drum roll)…..1/8000 of a second! This is huge! There have been times that I wanted to darken the background but not change my f stop. On my Nikon the sync speed is 1/250. It has the ability to go higher but there was a limit and you started to get that bar across your photo. Not anymore…. In the photo above, this was photographed at ISO 100, f/2.8 at 1/1600. This was taken in the harsh afternoon sun. I wanted to use the Sun as my rim light and fill in the front with the flash. That is exactly what I did. I placed the flash that was fitted with a Flex unit to camera left at 1/2 power. As you can see, the flash did the job. Also, look at the background, you may notice that it’s darker than you you might be used to having with traditional flash photography. Shooting at such a high shutter speed help knock down the ambient light. This was better than Christmas for me.

The actual photo itself is not one of my best. This was more of a test to see how the system would handle these types of conditions. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version.

I hope that this will help give you some insight on how to use your flash and extend its capabilities.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean

Spencer

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