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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Time to Click: Additional Flash for the Point and Shoot

We are debunking a popular myth about point and shoot camera's today!

Every camera comes with a flash these days. We have already talked about how they can vary from camera to camera and you know that you can add a flash to many bridge and DSLR camera's. But did you know one of the most popular myths in photography is that you can't use flash, or additional lights with a point and shoot camera?

Since some cameras allow separate flash units to be mounted via a standardized "accessory mount" bracket or "hot shoe" which is located on the top side of camera, many people assume you need a mount in order to use additional flash.

You can see the metal hot shoe on the very top of the camera

In fact this is just one style of flash called a Strobe Flash.  These strobes style flashes are only on when triggered. You can use them attached to your camera or off camera as shown below... or together!

Camera with attached flash, and an additional light that can be used off camera for additional lighting
However, any camera can benefit from using additional light sources, and there are tools available to make it super easy! The biggest part is understanding your camera, and what you are trying to shoot, so you can make the best choice for your situation.

For the point and shoot, or bridge camera's that do not have an option for an attached flash you can still pick up something called a "slave" flash. Basically it fires when it senses your on camera flash firing, adding additional light to your scene. Many times you can pick up a slave flash and a mount that will connect it to your tripod mount for under $100. Find one for your camera brand if it isn't made for your camera brand it may not function at all for you. Like for example it will say on the packaging:  Zeikos (the flash brand) for Nikon.

This bracket one can be found on newegg.com
 Keep in mind, these are based on old school manual flashes, so you may have to learn how to set it for distance and power. It's not a perfect system, and you will have to use it and experiment to really get the hang of it all. But it can really come in handy if you find yourself standing too far away from your subjects and needing those few extra feet, or needing to overcome things like red eye or harsh shadows. Since the flash would be farther way from your lens and larger covering more distance and spread, it solves those issues perfectly. Oh, and its a portable option so good for travel, and more people based photography. 

If you are doing more product style photography, you have a MUCH better option tho. Flashes tend to be really harsh, and may even cause your image to look blurry due to reflection of the light. Plus having to use your flash on your camera to trigger the other doesn't help your situation for Marco photography, or controlling your light sources.  For you, a Continuous light, or "hot light" would be my suggestion.

Continuous light, or video lights are often referred to as "hot lights' because they are always on, and put off a lot of heat. Bad for babies, kids, and chocolate, and  I don't suggest the hot lights for adults, in case your wondering... because you tend to get really grumpy results after sitting under them for any length of time.  However, these are very practical for almost any kind of product photography that doesn't involve something that would melt. Part of that practicality is that you can see shadows and glare on your items prior to shooting, and make adjustments! 

Small tabletop with multiple backgrounds and small lights
Continuous light kits for product photography are made in about every price range, style and size... since the light is on all the time you can use your white balance to adjust for the temperature of light, since they all vary. (see our past post on Light 101, and white balance) You will need to command your flash off, so it doesn't get in the way, but after that and setting the WB you should have good success!

 Now, you can get larger or smaller kits depending on your product. I like the ones with some sort of diffusion on the lights to prevent glare like the ones shown in the first image, and spread the light more evenly.  However, even the small table top kit shoots though the box, which diffuses the light. If your looking for a kit like this send me a message I have some strong feelings about some online companies that I have had good luck with, and some that I will NEVER use again.

But back to topic, continuous lighting isn't really portable so you wont be carrying this set up around with you to Aunt Cindy's wedding or anything. But you can get large "studio" looking versions if you want to use them for family portraits indoor and such.
LED style lights
Plus, with LED lights and new technology you even have some cooler options available so it becomes practical as well making the "hot lights" a thing of the past. Depending on what you purchase, you can set up your own home studio easily enough! But that again, is a post for another day!


  1. Hey girlie- i'm replying to your comment on my blog here. Did you know that you're blog is set up as a "no reply blogger"? Its a matter of a checkmark.
    Anyway, yes i would love to help you with any bridal post, questions, etc. :)

    1. Nope didn't know that I was set to no-reply at all! Thanks for letting me know!!!

      Thanks for offering your help as well! I will be in touch!