One student recently asked me about what gear to get if he’s just getting into flash photography after watching me work on-location. I wanted to share the thread for others who may be similarly interested.
What do I need to get started in flash photography? I want adequate gear at a student photographer price.
Though flash photography is a challenging field, you don’t need a lot of fancy gear to start! The combination of gear I recommend provides excellent performance at a very reasonable price that should fit any budget:
External Flash: I own six YongNuo YN-460ii external flash units because they are just that good. They have the same power output as the much more expensive Canon 560EXii. However, they are fully manually operated, so there won’t be fancy features like ETTL (Auto) flash modes or a battery power indicator. But the power levels are super easy to adjust, unlike the more complicated flashes. And if I break them at a shoot, I don’t have to cry.
Wireless Transmitter: The CowboyStudio NPT-04 Wireless Flash Trigger work well for me — I’ve never bothered trying Pocket Wizards, which don’t have much benefits if you’re using cheap manual flashes anyway. If you are using multiple manual flashes and want to save some money, considering getting the 2-Pack Flash Triggers.
Flash Stand Bracket / Umbrella Holder: Manfrotto 026 Swivel Umbrella Adapter: It’s super solid.
Umbrella: You really don’t need anything fancy. Get cheap ones like the CowboyStudio 43-inch Umbrella and replace them if they break. =]
Light Stands: CheetahStand C8 light stands are AWESOME. Super useful for when you need to move your light around a lot, like on-location portraits. Slightly less important if they’re going to stay put for a while. One annoying thing is that due to the very design of the mechanism, the CheetahStand hates being on uneven ground and the legs have a hard time deploying in grassy areas. So I’ve had to figure out ways to use my foot to engage the mechanism in grass, and sometimes I have to get creative with securing the stand if the ground is not even. But if you have an assistant, then none of these issues are a big deal. =]
Gels: Rosco Strobist Collection gels give you probably all the colors you’ll ever need for color correction / matching, and creating different moods. Use CTO / orange gels to simulate sunset, or purple & yellow on two different strobes to create a dance club look. If you don’t want to get a fancy gel holder, you can easily attach them to the flash using gaffer’s tape.
Okay, that’s all I can think of to get you on your way!