Way back in 2009, in "Bounced Flash and Bake-Off"; I wrote...
I dislike using flash in my photography, but most indoor lighting condition are not really bright enough for even illumination.
Direct flash can cause even the most flattering photos to turn out bad, direct flash is harsh and highlight in photos are "burn out" and lack detail.
If you are serious about your photography, the first technique you must learn is how to BOUNCE your flash!
Sadly, virtually all the smaller, so called "point & shoot" cameras came with tiny, fixed flash that you cannot tilt and bounce! Even if it can, the output is just too weak for that purpose.
What you need then is an external flash that is equipped with a movable "head" which you can tilt and turn to direct the light up or sidewards.
What is the advantage of bounced flash then?
Take a look at these pictures! :)
These pictures were taken in 1986 of our daughters and their cousins. You might not believe that I used a flash for illumination? Why was the light so soft, so flattering and so 3D?
That is the beauty of bounced flash!
And I took a self portrait with my little nieces in front of the mirror, notice how I fired the flash upwards at the ceiling? Yes, that is my Leica M4-P ;)
They bounced P&S, don't they?
But what if you own a humble point & shoot and you would like to bounce your flash?
You are in luck!
This is a good year for bounce flash!
Finally, a couple years ago; camera manufactures realised a large portion of P&S owners demand an external hot shoe on their cameras, so they can use an external flash to replace the often weak built in flash!
Slowly, they even launched tiny flashes for their P&S cameras and some of these gems can even bounce!
I decided this is the right time to get a small flash for my G12.
Third Party Flash
In the good old film camera days, you are able to bolt on almost any brand of flash to your hot shoe and fire away!
Not any more!
Your old flash not only won't work with your digital P&S, if by chance it work; the high "trigger current" from those old strobe might even damage your P&S innards!
For instance, Canon flashes (oops, Speedlites) will not work on a Nikon and so on.
For my G12, I can use the new Canon 270EX Speedlite.
The 270EX is an excellent small flash with most functions just like it's big brother, what I especially like is the metal "shoe" with quick release!
Photo Warehouse priced this gem at NZ$ 298.00, a bit too expensive for a small flash!
My next choice is the Sunpak RD2000.
Sunpak has been making flashes for ages, I used their flashes way back in 1970s! They make good product!
At NZ$ 198.00, it is a whopping $100 cheaper than the Canon!
The little flash is well made, the only thing I have to live with is the plastic "shoe" and the old school knoll lock to mount the light on the camera.
The RD2000 is tiny, it is solidly made though; notice the translucent wide-angle diffuser which you can flip over onto the flash head to give a wider (28 mm) coverage.
Another unique feature of this tiny Sunpak is that you can fold and hide the flash shoe for keeping. This action prevent damage to the hard plastic connector, I wish it was made of metal, like the Canon.
The rear panal of the little strob is straight forward, power on/off on the left and ready light / test fire button on the right.
The middle "EV Adjust" button is another feature I like about the RD2000, I can control the light output + or - one stop!
For bounce, you will want to set it to +1 to squeeze extra light from the tiny flash.
The RD2000, tilted upward for bounce flashing; sitting on top of the G12. The not over heavy flash is ideal, without creating a front heavy combo.
The bounce ready RD2000 and G12, view from the rear.
And yours truely showing off the bouncer in a mirror again ;)
Failing, last minute to get a model; I test out the little flash with a pair of my procelain Japanese dolls ;)
This was shot with direct flash, the little RD2000 colour temperature is white as can be; very impressive indeed. Notice the harsh, hard shadow on the background; not flattering for a beautiful face ;)
Same camera, same flash; except this is a bounce off the ceiling. The light is soft and with good modeling. Check out the subtle detail on the doll's face, not wash-out like the direct flash did!
The difference in detail and colour between direct and bounced flash. Which one do you prefer?
Last week it turn out to be our lady boss Audrey's birthday was on the day I brought in my G12 and RD2000 to office.
A perfect "real world" test of the camera and flash combo :)
My G12 was set to "M", 1/30 f4; ISO 400. The bounced light fill in the shadow area where the ceilling light missed.
Convinced? What are you waiting for? Go an get one of these little flash and start bouncing! ;)
The RD2000 also come in Nikon version.
Famous Last Words...
Tips on RD2000 you might find useful -
1. The on camera flash will auto set your shutter speed to 1/60 once it is charged, this might not be what you want if you intend to use a slower speed to take in existing light in your shot. My work around is to bounce with the G12 set to "M" and adjust the shutter speeds myself.
2. By pushing the "EV Adjust" button twice, you will get one extra f stop of flash output; priceless when you bounce. It is a pity that the setting revert to "0" after you shot, I feel the setting should remain at +1 until you reset it.
3. After you loosen the lock-wheel to remove the flash, try NOT to push the flash out; you might break the plastic "shoe"; instead, flip the unit up a notch and push the large knull lock wheel to remove the unit.
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