What are Strobes, Flashes and Speedlights

First of all about terminology, flashes, strobes and speedlights are just different names for the same thing.

A flash consists of three parts:

  • the head with the actual flash tube. It may be rotating horizontally and vertically;

  • body with electronics, sensors and batteries;

  • foot with electrical contact points that you attach to the camera.

Your camera has a flash shoe and its trigger contacts match those on the flash foot so that the camera and the flash can speak to each other. When you press the shutter button, a command is sent from your camera to the flash to trigger it.

There are three ways how your camera can be connected to an off-camera flash:

  • via an electrical cord with PC connectors;

  • via optical connection;

  • via radio connection.

If your off-camera flash has no PC terminal to attach a cord to, you need to use a PC to hot shoe adapter. The same goes for your camera, if it has no PC port, get one of hot shoe to PC adapters and you will be able to use a cord to connect the camera body and your flash. The cord's length may be 2-4 m.

For optical connection, you can use infra red or light triggers that are attached to the flash using the PC terminal, in case your flash is not equipped with an optical trigger system. It is better that using a cord but still has some limitations like your camera and flash must be positioned in the direct visual sight. If there are other photographers using strobes, your off-camera flash may be triggered by their cameras.

A radio trigger system is the most expensive but most convinient one as it allows much greater distance and is protected from being influenced by other cameras. You attach a radio transmitter to your camera and a receiver to your flash.

Off camera flashes need a light stand which is high enough depending on your shooting situation. You also need an umbrella adapter to attach the flash to the light stand. It allows to set various anges of your flash direction.

There are many creative options for reflecting, diffusing, blocking and filtering your flash light. There are shoot-through umbrellas that are postioned between the subject and the flash. It produces a nice looking glow. Another option is using a reflective umbrella that sends the light back to the subject. The flash is directed in the opposite way, from your subject.

It is important to correctly install the umbrella adapter and the flash so that the light is directed into the center of the umbrella and when you change the position, both the flash and umbrella are moved in the same direction, without changing the angle between them.

There snoots and grids that you can use to produce a narrow light beam.

You can place a plastic color filter in front of your flash to change the color of the light for correcting a white balance or creating special effects.

Flags are used to block some portion of the light which may cause lens flare or when you need not light some part of your subject.

Five Ways to Protect Your DSLR Camera

As you already know photo gear costs hundreds and sometimes thousands dollars, especially high-end lens. If you decided to shell out and make such an expensive purchase, it is a good idea to protect your investment for at least these two reasons:

  1. Your photo equipment will last you longer

  2. Less value will be lost when you need to sell it in the future

I will give you an overview of what you can do to protect your camera, lens, strobes, etc. The video above demostrates a free DIY solution to protect your camera from rain and snow using simple plastic bags.

First of all let us review camera bags.
There are many manufacturers and hundreds of models starting from very small to weel based cases. Think Tank Photo Bags [www.thinktankphoto.com] may be worth your consideration for their ultimate quality and durability. It is not uncommon for a photographer to change bags as he or she expands the variety of photo gear. The bag you are buying today may not be enough for your needs in a couple of years.

Lens protection
For lens more expensive than $100 it is highly advisable to use a protective UV filter. It is so easy to scratch your lens' front glass and if it cost you $1,500 it may be a disaster. A cheap UV filter from Canon or Nikon (or any other producer) will save you from damaging your lens glass. In the worst case you will just replace a $20 filter. Since it is transparent to visible light and filters out higher ultraviolet wavelengths, the UV filter is useful in a sunny weather condition. There is a dispute of whether or not to use it [see http://photo.net/equipment/filters/] but by all means it will act as protection to your expensive lens. And do not forget that lens loose much less value over time compare to camera bodies, so when you sell your lens its condition will highly affect its price. Check Hoya and B+W for UV filters.

Next comes camera screen protection
These small LCD screens are easy to scratch. Therefore a film or plastic cover can save you from damaging it. They are priced from $2 to $10. Check various options here: www.thefind.com/electronics/info-camera-screen-protector-protective-lcd

Memory cards cases
Cards are very sensitive and if are not careful enough with them, contacts may get dirty which will result in a faulty card. Using a simple case or even a small plastic bag will solve the problem. Check here for ideas: www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Memory-Card-Carry-Cases-Accessories/ci/3688/N/4289945363

Finally camera armor or skin
If you plan using your camera in wet or rainy or dusty condition, try the DIY solution in the video above or buy a special armor case or so called camera skin that seals your camera. This does not mean you will be able to drop your DSLR into water but it will give some extra protection from short exposure to negative environment conditions. Check these options: www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Digital-Camera-Skins/ci/12670/N/4294538488