Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The Rayflash Ringflash

The Rayflash Ringflash adapter needs no batteries and has no lights inside. It has a system of light channels and reflectors that distribute the light from your flash to a ring that surrounds the lens, giving an even light on the subject. The main use of a ringflash is for either portrait or macro photography. The unit is lightweight and slips on to the head of the speedlight and is locked on by a large thumbscrew that does not damage the flash in any way.

I've taken three photos of my daughter to show the difference in on camera flash and Rayflash. The first photo is using a Nikon SB-800 on the hotshoe with the defuser dome. The flash is set to iTTL and has no exposure compensation on either the flash or the camera. As you can see, there is a shadow on the right side, but it's not a bad photo for on camera flash.

The second photo is with the SB-800 bounced of the ceiling (the defuser still on). There's a dark shadow under her left cheek. On an adult there would be more shadows in the eyes, due to deeper features too.

The third photo is from the Rayflash. Note the trademark halo style shadow. The light is nice and even on Janel's face, although a bit flat. The shadows have totally gone too. The flash is set to +2 compensation to get a good exposure.
I found it strange that the flash needed +2 compensation when it was on the hotshoe, but when it was slipped of the hotshoe and set as the remote on iTTL, it needed no compensation to get the same exposure. I emailed the makers of Rayflash about this a few days ago, but I have not had a reply at the time of publishing this post.

I really like the Rayflash and I'm looking forward to trying it with the Lastolite HiLite background, where the lit background will burn out the halo shadow. The Rayflash is great for times when you need lights, but don't have time or space to set-up stands. As a portrait photographer, I think I'm going to get lots of use from the Rayflash ringflash.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

My Camera Bags & Gear

Camera bags are such subjective things! We all have different kit and even different set-ups for certain types of jobs. I have four bags at the moment, three Lowepro and one Tamrac. The Tamrac is a Pro8, which is a good bag, but the over the shoulder reporter style feels awkward to me, so it very rarely sees the light of day.

My three LowePro bags are all backpacks. For a simple one camera, a couple of lens's and a single Speedlight setup, I have a SlingShot 100AW, this is the lightest I travel (unless I take just my Canon G9). My 100AW strap got torn recently and LowePro replaced the the bag free of charge. With that kind of customer service, I doubt I'll buy anything but Lowpro from now on.
My medium sized bag is a Fastpack 250 which is a great bag for carrying a pro-sized DSLR (with battery grip), two to four lens's and one or two Speedlights. Only problem is that I'm taking two camera's most of the time these days!

That brings me to the bag I've been using for the past three months, the Lowepro CompuTrekker AW . As you can see from the photo above, I've moved some of the padded inserts around to suit my set-up. The CompuTrekker is a fantastically modular bag, as all of the inserts can be removed to leave one big space, or you can divide it up into tiny slots to take small items, like a 50mm or batteries. There's also a large front pouch (big enough for three Speedlights) plus another smaller pouch. There's also a tripod carrier too. Here is a list of the gear that I carry in the CompuTrekker:

  • Nikon D300s body (with battery grip)
  • Nikon D300 body
  • Nikkor 17-55mm f2.8 (on the D300s)
  • Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 (on the D300)
  • Nikkor 50mm f1.8
  • Sigma 10mm f2.8 Fisheye
  • Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6
  • Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4.5 Macro (Nikon Cap in the photo)
  • Nikon SB800 Speedlight
  • Nikon SB900 Speedlight (in front pouch)
  • Sony Vaio Laptop
  • Polarizer filters and coloured gels
  • Reflector and defuser (fold-away)
  • Bag with card readers, cables, lens blowers and cloths
The Computrekker is big and heavy with the gear listed above, but it saves me taking two or three bags. It's not for every occasion, but if you're on a job that you need two cameras (even if one is just a back-up), I reckon this is one of the best designed photography bags around.