When shooting pictures, sometimes natural light is not enough. In which case we need to use an artificial light source for great image quality. There are many choices – from the built in flash of the camera to flash guns and studio flashes.
Today I will write a general presentation about the camera flash gun and camera flash types, hoping that this will give you a good idea on what you’ll need to buy in order to archive best picture quality.
Camera flash types
Most of the modern cameras have a built in flash. This is the most basic artificial light a photographer can use, but it is very limited. It is not powerful enough, the subject should be relatively close and it can not properly illuminate groups of people – for example. Also, it is not performing well with very close subject, as in macro photography it will drop the lens shadow in the picture.
With this in mind, well talk about more advanced lighting systems which will prove to be very useful gear for great images.
Hot Shoe flash – flash gun
This is the most popular type of flash. You have a wide range of different models to choose from available from the camera manufacturers or independents, with prices for any budget. The most cheaper (basic models) have more power than a built-in flash, and is synchronizing with the camera’s TTL metering and AF, automatically providing the best exposure.
If you care about your budget, I strongly recommend to take a look on eBay or, if you prefer – on Amazon for camera flash types before you adventure into town shops. This can save you cash with no worries – they have returning policy and offer guarantee as well.
Called like that because of their shape, they are usually attached to the side of the camera with a bracket which screws into the tripod bush. From here on it works like the flash gun, connects through a wire and TTL module connector to the camera’s hot shoe to provide AF and TTL metering.
The hammerhead guns offer more mobility than flashguns (tilt and swivel heads) and generally more power. Can be mounted both right or left side of the camera, or on separate tripods to source light as needed. Some of them are able to trigger camera, so you can be in control from different locations – don’t necessary need to be behind camera at all time when execute shoots.
Can be used with diffusers or reflectors – as required by the task.
Macro flash systems
There are two main flash systems for macro:
Macro flash – are usually highly performance, they are able to provide adjustable light for different angles. The macro flash can shoot continuous or flash, which gives you maximum control over light power and direction that is essential in capturing image details.
This is mostly expensive, professional gear. But if you can afford it you’ll soon find out that this investment worth every penny.
Ring flash – is a cheaper alternative, but still with good results. It comes with adapter rings for different lens diameters and with colored flash diffusers as so you can give your picture some nice color shades. The ring flash offer a shadow free image. As the flash light source is mounted on the lens and the light power is low, it is designed for close up pictures.
Please keep in mind that this will not work with the reverse ring technique. As in this specific case you are reversing the lens to attach them to the camera through the medium of the reverse ring. In which situation, the side of the lens to which we refer when we talk about the ”diameter of the lens” (the location where the ring flash must be mounted) is now already used.
For this scenario I would recommend a gun flash, hammerhead flash or a studio flash (with diffusers and / or reflectors – as needed), or just the natural light when possible.
If you want to read more about macro flash systems, I wrote a post that you can read here
Studio flashes are designed to give the photographer absolute lighting control for their pictures.
Usually much higher powered than flashguns, can be used with diffusers and / or reflectors for directing the light as needed.
The studio photographer has the option to use a single light source or multiple heads depending on task – portraiture, fashion, model, macro etc…
In the end…
I hope this general presentation helped you to have a better idea about camera flash types, what they do and from where to buy them at a reasonable price. Don’t get hurry, think about which are your priorities and buy only if you come to the conclusion that you really need it. It is easier and better for your financial life to acquire something later in time, when you decide you need extra gear, than to buy staff in the beginning and come later to the conclusion that you have never had a use for that. I did that and lost some money…
My goal is not only to share information, but my experience also. For that I am talking mostly about my mistakes, which I am hoping that is a possible way to keep other from doing the same as I’ve done.
Please ask below if you need more information, or comment with anything you may want to add. I am always happy to help and to learn from your experience, if you’re happy to share too. Thanks for reading through the end!