Speedlights are a great option for those who want to get started in the world of off-camera lighting. They’re smaller and less expensive than studio strobes, but they offer plenty of power and flexibility.
There are two main types of speedlights: monolights (which have their own power source) and strobes (which draw power from AA batteries). For a beginner, I’d recommend starting out with a strobe-type model. Not only is it easier to use, but it’s also less expensive than a monolight.
What lens size do you need?
When photographing a subject against a bright background, i.e. a room, you usually need to use a large lens, such as a 50mm or 85mm. When photographing a subject in front of a bright background, i.e. a window, you need to use a smaller lens, such as a 28mm or 45mm.
The focal length of a lens is given by multiplying the focal length of the lens by the size of the image sensor on the camera. For example, a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera has a focal length of approximately 70mm.
When you buy a lens, check the focal length to make sure you will be able to get the shot you want, without having to use a zoom.
When you take your flash photo, the flash needs to be about 5-7 feet (1.5m) from the subject. If the subject is closer, the flash will need to be raised to the right distance.
It’s important to know that flash intensity drops as the distance from the subject increases. At the minimum distance, the flash will only illuminate about 15% of the subject. As the distance increases, the percentage of the subject illuminated will decrease. For example, at a distance of 20 feet the light will only illuminate about 5% of the subject.
At a distance of 20 feet the light will only illuminate about 5% of the subject.
How much power does it use?
The amount of power needed depends on what you’ll be shooting and where your subject is located in relation to the camera. If you’re shooting close up at f/2 or f/2.8 with an ISO setting between 100 and 400, then you can get away with a smaller flash like the Canon Speedlite 270EX II or the Nikon SB-400.
Manual vs. TTL
This is one of the biggest debates in flash photography. Do you want to control every aspect of your flash or do you want the camera to do it for you?
TTL (through-the-lens) metering allows the camera to measure the amount of light coming into the lens and adjust the flash accordingly so that it’s always perfect exposure no matter what your subject is doing or where it’s moving. Manual mode means that you have to set everything yourself, including aperture and shutter speed. This makes manual mode more complex than TTL mode and requires more practice before you can get consistent results with it.
Speedlights vary widely in price, with older ones often being much less expensive than newer models with more features. You’ll also find that different brands have different prices as well; some brands offer better quality while others offer more features in a smaller package at lower prices.