When I wrote my Macro Photography Lighting Tutorial, I had the opportunity to test a fairly popular product for my section on ring lights: the Bolt VM-110. I was happy with the quality of light from the VM-110 ring light, but I was unimpressed with its low strength. Since ring lights are so commonly-used for macro photography, I decided that it would be worthwhile to review the VM-110 and share some of my thoughts about how well it works for macro photography.
Macro photographers tend to struggle with two crucial variables when lighting their subjects. First, high-magnification macro photography usually involves apertures between f/16 and f/32. To use an aperture this small, you need a high-powered flash — especially if you want to use a diffuser. The second major issue is that many macro photographers work with just one on-camera flash, meaning that the lighting can appear flat and dull, even when diffused. So, when Venus Optics announced their alien-looking KX800 dual flash, I was excited to see that they had put considerable effort into solving these two major problems.
When I’m not scratching ever upwards toward the pinnacle of the high-stakes editorial bird photography world I find it helps my bottom line to prostitute myself as an HPLS. It’s not a pretty job, but imagine how ugly the world would appear if it weren’t for the services of us Human Powered Light Stands. When were not schlepping monolights, downloading memory cards, witnessing model releases, or checking to make sure the model’s sports bra isn’t wrinkled, we’re usually found holding the Venerable Shiny Disk.
It’s been bugging me that I only have a handful of decent insect photos, despite owning a macro lens primarily for that purpose. When they weren’t flying or running away from me, they were biting me, and when I tried the pop-them-in-the-fridge-to-cool-them-down trick – well, let’s just say Mr. Tarantula is still napping. I felt awful about that and vowed never to ice down a critter again unless it was a penguin with heat stroke. Still I’ve been seeing tons of great bug photos lately and it rekindled my interest. If I could just dial in the lighting, maybe I could start nailing some great macro wildlife shots.
This review is for three Impact Muslin Backgrounds and an Impact Background Support System. I have always loved backdrops and how they can convert any space into a studio. By setting up a studio backdrop, you can create a whole new feel for a shoot and they are versatile and easy to use. I chose to set these up in my living room and home office space, but if you are tight for space in your home, a garage makes a perfect studio as well.
The Nikon SB-500 speedlight was announced in September of 2014 together with the Nikon D750 and Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G lens. Sitting above the compact SB-300 and below the larger and more powerful SB-700, the SB-500 is targeted at beginners and enthusiasts, who want something more capable than a built-in flash or a basic speedlight. The SB-500 comes with an interesting list of features, one of which we have never previously seen on Nikon speedlights before – built-in LED lights. Although I personally had very little interest in using the SB-500, as I heavily rely on SB-800 and SB-900 speedlights for my work, ability to run LED lights continuously seemed like an interesting idea. In addition, with the SB-500 abilities of being both a commander and a remote flash unit with full compatibility with Nikon’s CLS system, I thought that perhaps I could use it in combination with my other speedlights. So I decided to check out and do a quick review of the SB-500, to see if it would potentially be a suitable tool for my photography needs.
Technically, the article is supposed to be called “Nikon Speedlight Comparison”, because Nikon calls their flash units “Speedlights”. This article is written as an introduction to the current and older line of Nikon Speedlights, specifically the Nikon SB-300, SB-400, SB-500, SB-600, SB-700, SB-800 (discontinued), SB-900 (discontinued) and SB-910. In addition to some basic information on each Speedlight, I will provide a comparison chart on the bottom of this article as well, to make it simpler for our readers to understand the differences.
The majority of my videography and photography work is with industrial clients, and I almost always find myself shooting onsite in warehouses, factories, and other indoor venues. In many of the buildings in which I shoot, lighting can consist of a mix of technologies such as high intensity discharge (metal halide, high pressure sodium, mercury vapour, low pressure sodium), fluorescent, and LED. To further complicate things sometimes facilities have had physical expansions and specific parts of a building can be illuminated by a mix of lighting sources. Rather than pull out the few, remaining hairs I have left on my head when having to deal with all of these variables, I try to simplify my shooting by bringing my studio lights with me and creating as much wide angle, controlled light as possible.
Like many photographers and videographers, I’ve found that there have been times when I really could have used a small, highly portable, adjustable light source. This most often occurred when I shooting close-up still images or video clips of industrial machinery where I couldn’t get my regular studio lighting to fit into cramped quarters. I began looking for a solution and came upon the Genaray LED-7100T On-Camera Light.
Let’s face it. Flashes are expensive. Wouldn’t it be great if you could purchase a new flash and only spend half of what a new flash typically costs? I’m a Nikon shooter and already have two SB-800s, but another flash can sure come in handy when shooting with off-camera flash at a wedding reception. When I got the Bolt VX-710N, that’s exactly what I had in mind for it, but I decided to go ahead and try it as an on-camera flash as well.