How to buy a camera flash
A camera flash buying guide
If you own a digital SLR camera, you may want to know how to buy a camera flash to use with it. There are many specs to consider as you figure out which camera flash to buy. Start with a budget, and then look at other features so you can do a camera flash comparison.
>> Consider the quality
Once you set a budget, as you determine how to buy a camera flash, consider the quality of the photographs you wish to produce. The flash will affect the ultimate quality of the photos. If you are a professional photographer, then you will want camera flashes with many features. These kinds of flashes are higher in price than simpler ones, but they result in higher-quality photographs. Camera flashes for general use simplify the act of taking photographs and are less expensive, but the result may be a lower-quality photo.
>> Consider the guide number
The guide number of the flash is the power of the flash. The power is the main thing to consider when determining how to buy a camera flash. Camera flashes are used to create light, and the higher the guide number, the more light you will get. Each type of camera flash has a guide number on it; you want to buy the highest guide number you can afford.
You also want to consider whether the light emitted is a narrow beam or a wide beam. The wider the beam, the dimmer the light will seem because it is spread out. Conversely, if the beam is narrow, the brightness will be greater.
>> What is the recycling rate?
Another thing to consider when looking at how to buy a camera flash is the amount of time between each camera flash, called the recycling rate. The recycling rate is based on brand new batteries. The shorter or lower the recycling rate, the faster you can take the next shot. The best camera flash will give you two numbers: one based on the minimum amount of light used, and one based on the maximum amount of light used.
>> What flash group do you require?
There are two types of camera flashes when it comes to flash groups: the master and the slave. The master is a camera flash that controls other flashes. You need this type of camera flash only if you need to have more than one flash. When considering how to buy a camera flash, think about how many flashes you will be using. Most cameras come with a slave flash, which cannot control other flashes.
>> Consider the ability to direct the light
Another thing to consider when you look at how to buy a camera flash is being able to direct the light. This is known as tilt and swivel. You can tilt the flash up and down and swivel it from side to side to use the walls to redirect light. When you do a camera flash comparison, you will notice that a solid flash creates a harsh lighting. It can make it very difficult to get the shot you desire.
>> What additional features do you want?
Different types of camera flashes have a variety of distinctive features. The camera flash comparison chart below lists some of them.
Camera flash feature
|TTL metering ||TTL metering is the use of short flash bursts to determine the amount of light needed. This is ideal for when you are taking photographs of live events. |
|Auto-focus assist beam ||An auto-focus assist beam uses a red dot to help the flash focus on what needs highlighted. Ideally, assist beams create a grid pattern, rather than a single dot. |
|Auto zoom ||Auto zoom allows your lens to flash to adjust to the lens zooming in or out. It will change the beam width as well. |
|Wireless TTL flash control ||A wireless TTL flash control allows you to control your flash remotely, perfect for photo shoots. It can control multiple flashes, allowing you to redirect several camera flashes as needed. |
|Adjustable power settings ||This feature allows you to adjust how your camera flash is used. You can change the stops and allow minor adjustments. |
|Sync mode ||There are high-speed syncs (HSS), rear-curtain syncs (RCS) and stroboscopic mode. HSS allows you to use the flash beyond the camera's limit. RCS, or second-curtain sync, allows you to use a flash during slow shutter settings. Stroboscopic mode repeats the flash during a specific interval. This creates a series of photographs. |
>> What batteries are needed?
Some camera flashes use a battery pack. They are useful for sporting events or other events with a lot of movement. You will need your flash to work as fast as possible, recycling rapidly and operating at the highest power output possible. This means that the battery will drain quickly. Have a few back-up battery packs on hand that are fully charged so you have the ability to swap packs quickly.
The various types of camera flashes use various battery packs. Some flash packs use AA batteries, in which case you can purchase rechargeable batteries. AA battery packs may not pack enough power to keep up with your needs. Look into camera-specific batteries; the fresher they are, the lower the recycling rate will be. If you are looking at camera-specific AA rechargeable batteries, you want NiMh.
When you are looking at cameras and camcorders, you need to know the quality of photographs you require in order to know which camera accessories you will want or need for a photo shoot. The information presented in this camera flash buying guide should help you figure out which is the best camera flash for your purposes.