Best Flash for GH3 shooting nightlife?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by matthew_parent, Jun 11, 2014.

  1. matthew_parent

    matthew_parent Mu-43 Rookie

    14
    Mar 15, 2014
    Los Angeles (Hermosa)
    Hello friends,

    Totally new here and wondering why I haven't joined this community yet. New to photography. Anyways, I'm looking to get into nightclub/bar photography with my GH3 and I'm considering the Metz-AF1 or the FL600R for a flash. I'm keen on setting up a rig where it is not attached to the hot shoe mount. Are these good options or am I looking in the wrong place. Cheers and thanks for the thoughts fellas! Stoked to be here!

    -Matt

    matthewparentstories.com
     
  2. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    A flash for nightclub/bar photography? That sounds like a great way to make enemies. How about a fast prime instead?
     
  3. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The FL600R is good, but if you're shooting in a dark nightclub you might want to consider the FL50R. It is about twice as powerful, but with about the same recycle (drop the FL50R to 1/2 power, and you're looking at the same power and recycle as the FL600R at 1/1 power). The FL600R does offer one advantage over the FL50R for your situation, in that it has a built-in video light which you could use for focusing your shot before the flash goes off.

    However, there is one huge advantage of the FL50R specifically for the requirements you listed. It is made to work directly with the FP-1 Power Flash Grip, to take advantage of the Olympus high voltage pack (the flash system for m4/3 is the same as the flash system for 4/3, it doesn't matter if things are made for Oly or Panny or DSLR or mirrorless - it's all fully interchangeable), for faster recycle and extended use. I am a big fan of flash brackets and never use an "on-board" flash without mounting it on a bracket. You are definitely looking in the right direction with that plan. The Flash Grip is that much better though, because it not only gives you the advantages of a Flash Bracket but also the advantages of a high-powered Quantum flash.

    First of all though, make sure you get a proper light modifier for whatever flash you use! I prefer the softbox type, which gives soft, even, direct lighting. I don't use anything which relies on bounce, as they offer no directional control and provide uneven lighting. They would also be particularly ineffective in a nightclub.
     
  4. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    No, you cannot get by with just a fast prime in a nightclub. They are way too dark for that and nobody minds flash in the nightclubs, All the paid photographers use it, whether hired by the bar or an event promoter, and it is the only way they can get usable photographs for marketing and promotion. Yes, I have been hired for a number of these jobs. They are somewhat of a pain, but work is work. ;)

    The OP did say that he's "new to photography" though, and is "looking to get into nightclub/bar photography". With that in mind, it is weird to be bringing a flash rig to a nightclub. :/ Well, taking photos in a nightclub period if you are not hired to do so is inappropriate and will make enemies. Even when you are the official representation of an event promoter or the bar, you can run into some patrons who will threaten you and your expensive camera over having their photos taken in a bar (even if they weren't in the frame). So to the OP, if you're just thinking of doing this for art and enjoyment (ie, "street photography" off the street), I would suggest against it in any real "nightlife" environment. Maybe in a quieter bar with just a fast prime and high ISO, but that doesn't sound like the type of photos you're after?
     
  5. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    OK, I am probably too old to frequent the spots that you are referring to. :)
     
  6. kirschm

    kirschm Mu-43 Regular

    82
    May 4, 2014
    Germany
    I would use 100% manual flashes (e.g. Yongnuo 560 series)... By flashing indirectly towards the ceiling the exposure conditions won't change significantly even if you always change your position... this is a predictible way of exposure... any kind of TTL flash is likely to be unpredictable... You set the flash intensitiy at the beginning by doing 1-2 test shoots... and then you're done...

    Still thinking that night club and flash is a no go...

    Better alternative: fast lens, high iso... better than any flash... even some motion blurr will appear natural...
     
  7. matthew_parent

    matthew_parent Mu-43 Rookie

    14
    Mar 15, 2014
    Los Angeles (Hermosa)
    Thanks! plus a follow up

    Friends,

    Thank you so much!!! I am looking to do this professionally, for money; I need something to do when I'm not chasing film work :) as a I happen to live in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, area of L.A., looking to dive into Venice and Santa Monica venues eventually.

    As for the recommendations, I simply can't drop $400 on a flash and another $200 on a flash bracket rig like the FP-1, though I wish I could (at least until I profit). I can spend maybe $300-400 USD altogether.It seems to make more sense to have a flash bracket not specifically tailored to any brand of flash (lower budget), where I can run the flash wirelessly (or with wires I guess....sigh) to my GH3. As for the Quantum flash, are you referring to the brand of flash? What is better about Quantum? I do like the idea of checking focus with the Metz, as I may be using manual primes. Another issue I am curious about is recycle time, and how I would determine that. I feel anything longer than 3 seconds would be pushing it for retakes, unless I can nail the shot every time.

    Furthermore I'm curious about metering... If I'm running a wireless flash with say the Metz AF-1 does that mean I'm running TTL or non-TLL? Or is there even an option? I have a feeling TTL would be inefficient and that it would be better to set manual flash at the beginning and then go from there.


    Thank you for suggesting a soft bounce, that was my thought process as bouncing light constantly would be inefficient and annoying in my opinion. What bounce options would you recommend? I will be rolling with a few fast primes too. As for angry patrons, I happen to be 25, exceedingly friendly, and fortunately physically imposing... so I'm not worried about drunkards :) Thanks for helping the new guy!
     
  8. matthew_parent

    matthew_parent Mu-43 Rookie

    14
    Mar 15, 2014
    Los Angeles (Hermosa)
    Also, I figure if I leave my aperture set at around 11-16 for 4 or 5 feet, I should be covered focus wise for the night (typically). Right? (shrugs)
     
  9. kirschm

    kirschm Mu-43 Regular

    82
    May 4, 2014
    Germany
    Hm, the more I read your posts the more I think you should first catch the photographic basics... especially MFT... don't even think about aperture 11-16 in the MFT world... not a good option... If you wan't to have a 'fixed focus'... OK... but focussing for each shot individually is not a big deal... and better than aperture > 5.6-8

    Even a strong flash (not to mention available light only) cannot cope with aperture 11-16 indirectly... unless you set 5-digit ISOs....
     
  10. matthew_parent

    matthew_parent Mu-43 Rookie

    14
    Mar 15, 2014
    Los Angeles (Hermosa)
    And what exactly would be the MFT basics then? Also...lower aperture then... makes sense. I'll take any advice and resources I can get. Thanks brother!
     
  11. kirschm

    kirschm Mu-43 Regular

    82
    May 4, 2014
    Germany
    Sorry, I don't have a link to MFT-basics at hand... resp. to general basics... but you should first close this thread and inform about this... what I meant by Aperture 11-16 and MFT: you have a great depth of field but due to lens/sensor relationship a very bad overall sharpness... while you might use full size sensor cameras up to aperture 16 or so... you need to choose lower aperture numbers the smaller the sensor in your camera is... as I said: photographic baiscs... does not fit in accessories forums...
     
  12. matthew_parent

    matthew_parent Mu-43 Rookie

    14
    Mar 15, 2014
    Los Angeles (Hermosa)
    I'm not asking about basics, I'm asking about the best flashes for nightclub photography and we got off topic. I apologize if I have been misleading. Although I must say what you just said is illuminating and I am now very curious to dive into the forums. Gracias. So....back to the question at hand: flash options and accessories for a lower budget guy in the nightlife scene.
     
  13. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Then yes, you definitely need a good flash rig. :)

    Yeah, if money is a concern then certainly a generic flash bracket will work. They can range from as little as $20 to as much as $150. That's what I use, as I use a great number of different flash units and also have multiple kits with different brackets.

    Yes, Quantum is another brand of flash. They make the Qflash. Basically, it's more like a mini-strobe, but portable and fits on a hotshoe. Stronger power and faster recycle are the advantages. It would basically be like running the FL-50R with a flash grip.

    As far as recycle time, the lower your power the faster your recycle. The recycle time listed is for full 1/1 power. The FL-50R and the FL-600R, like most 4-battery flash units from any other major OEM manufacturer, have the same recycle time for the same power (1/2 power on the FL-50R is equivalent to 1/1 power on the FL-600R). They all work in a pretty standardized fashion. The only ones you need to worry about for recycle time are like the FL-36R, which is a two-battery flash with the same power and size as the FL-600R... and thus will recycle slower due to the lesser amount of batteries used. Canon has an 430-series flash which is about the equivalent to the FL-600R.

    Yes, you will have the choice of TTL or manual, but I would stick with manual personally. Of course, if you are using a zoom lens then that could complicate things because then you would be needing to change your flash power often, but if you are using a prime lens you'll be fine. Manual will make flash bracket use easier and let you connect with a simple PC cable. If you need TTL though, you can use a Canon TTL cable, which has the same pin pattern as the Four-Thirds flash (of course, that doesn't mean you can mount a Canon-compatible flash! Just the cable). You'll probably get a better quality and selection from the cable if you shop for Canon compatibility rather than Olympus or Panasonic (due to less accessory support provided by camera stores). Otherwise, if you want full wireless you can use the Remote Commander, but this is an optical system and is not the best for use in a nightclub. Cabled manual is much less hassle.
     
  14. matthew_parent

    matthew_parent Mu-43 Rookie

    14
    Mar 15, 2014
    Los Angeles (Hermosa)
    Got it. So across manufacturers like say for the Metz-AF-1 charging times can be different, but for a single flash manufacturer they remain constant like OEn


    So I don't mind doing manual, and yes indeed primes will be what I'm using. Didn't know that about the Canon TTL cable nor compatibility. I'm not sure what a remote commander is so I'll need to look that up. Also it sounds like in order for the camera to sync with the flash I will need a cable regardless (I apologize for such terrible new guy questions) because I doubt I will need TTL that desperately.... So would buying a 'wireless' flash would be overkill as I don't need full wireless capability nor TTL? And if that is the case would you or anyone recommend an older or more simple flash with good recyc time? I appreciate this immensely Ned. Lifesaver you are!
     
  15. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Nope, the manufacturer has nothing to do with it. It's all about your choice of size and power. :) Just like every manufacturer has their own version of almost every body made, every manufacturer has their own version of every flash, and they really all work near identically. I wouldn't be surprised if they all came from the same factory, they're all so similar. The only reason you choose one manufacturer over the other is compatibility with your complete system. Each manufacturer has their own offerings which parallel that of each other manufacturer.

    There are different types of flash which are equivalent across manufacturers. For instance, the Olympus FL-50R is like the Canon 580EXII, which is like the Nikon SB900. They all provide similar power and recycle rates. Likewise, the Olympus FL-600R is like the Canon 430EXII, which is like the Vivitar 285HV (and I can't think of the Nikon equivalent off-hand, lol). They all exhibit similar power and recycle times to each other. It all depends on if you want something more portable with less power, or something larger with more power. The recycle time varies depending on that choice of power, not manufacturer (the Olympus FL-36R was a rare exception because it used half the batteries at only 2 cells, which made its recycle time much slower than the normal 4-cell units). If you're putting out twice the power with a larger flash, then it's going to take that much longer to recycle. However, if you use a larger flash and halve the power, then you will see the same recycle time as a half-size flash putting out the same power, but at full power for that flash. That is where the recycle time is approximately equivalent across all the various 4-cell flash units. The Olympus FL-600R by the way, is essentially the same as the old FL-36R except with 4 batteries instead of 2 giving it much faster recycle times (equivalent to the FL-50R), and the addition of a continuous video light (which can also be used as a low-light focus aid). The Canon 430EXII type flash units also have the same specs.

    The Remote Commander comes built-in with your camera. The Four-Thirds (the old DSLR system) and Micro Four-Thirds systems use the same flash system with the same wireless flash control across all brands, not just hotshoe compatibility. Olympus has been using remote wireless triggering via an optical commander included in their pop-up flash units since 2007 (years before Micro Four-Thirds existed). Panasonic however, only just introduced a Remote Commander into their pop-up flash as early as your GH3 model. So buying Panasonic you just barely got into the wireless technology. Any R-series flash units from Olympus (ie, FL-300R, FL-36R, FL-600R, FL-50R... listed from smallest to largest) or Panasonic L-series flash units (ie, FL360L, the Panny equivalent to the Oly FL-600R) are capable of receiving wireless controls from that built-in flash commander.

    As for whether it's worth the investment to buy wireless-capable flash units if you're not going to use that TTL capability, I would say yes. One big reason for that is that since the Four-Thirds wireless flash system is optical, our wireless units have one huge advantage (Nikon flash units, which also uses an optical system for wireless, has the same advantage). That is, the ability to function as an optical slave which will trigger off any flash fired. This is a huge boon for manual shooters, allowing large complex lighting arrays without the need for an endless expense of costly radio triggers or cumbersome PC cables. To add a single Pocket Wizard transceiver to your system for instance, is another $200, for just one single light, on top of the $200 for the transceiver you attach to your camera. Now think about doing that for a full 6-point speedlight system. Some people swear by radio, but mostly they either don't use many lights (ie, like your wedding and event photographer with a mobile flash unit shooting at events full of other photographers, not your studio-style commercial photographer like me, shooting large lighting systems in my own dedicated shoots) or they have bottomless pockets from a different day job ('cause working as a photographer sure doesn't pay for those mass amount of triggers).

    Of course you would fall into the event category so radio would be a good choice for you, but if you're interested in learning manual and want to expand your system, then you should keep your options open. Now, optical slave capabilities can be added to any flash unit (including old cheap vintage flash units from the film era) by use of an external optical eye mounted to your flash foot. These are still going to run you about $65 apiece however, so unless you can save a huge amount by buying non-wireless (which won't happen if you're looking at modern OEM units, but can happen if you're looking at vintage film-era units), then if your Olympus flash can come built in with an optical sensor, why not use it? :)

    This is all looking at future potential capabilities, though. As far as your single event flash mounted to your flash bracket and preferably hard-wired to your camera... you will not need any wireless capabilities. I would not purposely close that door, however.
     
  16. matthew_parent

    matthew_parent Mu-43 Rookie

    14
    Mar 15, 2014
    Los Angeles (Hermosa)
    Copy that! Compatability it is.

    I see, I was not aware of the relative similarity amongst manufacturers nor the difference in recycle time but that does make perfect sense.

    I didn't know the pop up flash had that capability, so a new question is: If I fire the pop-up flash to remote trigger say the Metz Mecablitz 52 AF-1, FL360L, or FL-600R, would that GH3 flash interfere with my resulting image? If so, is the effect negligible and if not, I suppose I can just plug a cable into my camera from the external flash and not use the remote commander option right?

    Essentially if I move into more complex lighting arrangements, having a wireless configuration would allow me to optimize lighting packages efficiently and relatively less expensive than radios and pocket wizards. Also...on the cost of those... ouch... only if I rake it in eh.



    I sure as hell want to keep my options open because if I were to expand this I could potentially work bigger events with more set-ups. Sounds like I should just roll with the wireless units that are available and get stoked on shooting and learning more!

    So I will essentially need to buy a flash, cable (because I can't manually fire external flash without it?), small softbox, and flash bracket to get started. Man, Ned, you have shared so much knowledge! This is beyond what I expected from this forum, and holy hell is it appreciated.
     
  17. numberpro

    numberpro Mu-43 Rookie

    21
    May 3, 2014
    People have offered lots of good advice. Let me put in my own two cents :).

    I've done some 'night club' photography. Actually, I take pictures in dark salsa dance clubs, which are very difficult conditions. Not only is it dark, but people are dancing and moving very fast. I say this not to boast in any sense, but to say I've had to deal with this and learned to push my equipment to get the shots. It's the combination of night club and sports photography.

    Totally agree that flash recycle time is the key. BTW, don't worry about people getting upset with flash, or that you are taking their picture. The vast majority are happy and pleased to have their photo taken. I've had people position themselves next to me hoping that I will take their picture. The main thing is their age. The younger crowd (20 something) all love it! Their concept of privacy has really changed.

    As for a flash, I do recommend the yongnuo 560 III. They are cheap and recycle time is respectable. Each only cost $75, so you can pick up a spare. The best part is that they have built in radio triggers. So you can get the yongnuo rf-603 II C1 trigger for $30. So I picked up 3 flashes plus two triggers for very little money. I also say go manual, so the lack of TTL does not matter.

    So how does it all work? I typically set the flash at 1/2 power, and set aperture at 5.6, or 7.1 at the most. You might even get away with 3.6 for close shots. m43 natively had deeper depth of field, right? So I found that sufficient to cover group in focus. You know what, I use bounce flash whenever I can, especially for smaller clubs with lower ceilings. Honestly, forget about any notions of correct exposure, it ain't gonna happen. With the strobe lights, disco lights, people moving fast, it's better to get an underexpose shot than not get it at all. That's why the one absolute requirement is that you shoot RAW.

    So what I do is use the flash underpowered for fast recycle, then quick fix exposure in lightroom. Fixing exposure and white balance is just a few clicks, no biggie. My set up is the GH3, plus Panasonic 12-35 zoom. I know primes are sharper, but people are moving around, constantly walking, I like the flexibility of the zoom to compose and frame the shot. Seriously, there is no time to swap out primes to get a shot! The images are going to be posted on a website, so sharpness is not the point.

    BTW, if you already know video, you are ahead of the game. Promoters would love the high quality video from the gh3. If you can offer a quick, well edited video clip, that would make you very attractive to clubs and promoters. I am learning video now and kinda envious that you already have that skill.

    Good luck!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  18. matthew_parent

    matthew_parent Mu-43 Rookie

    14
    Mar 15, 2014
    Los Angeles (Hermosa)
    Thank you so much for responding! You are very helpful. I ordered the FL-360 and a flash bender, took it out the bar last night with my 14mm pancake and messed around. Got a few silly shots but still pouring through the manual trying to figure it out! I might have to look into the yongnuo 560 III as buying a $250.00 flash hurt a little bit! Particularly if I am shooting just manual. You're absolutely right about the video, I'm actually going out the bars in a few to give them my pitch! I found that leaving it at f/7 or so is plenty of focus, now its just time to play with it and see just what the hell I can accomplish! The only other question I have for you is pricing. What have you heard? Thanks!
     
  19. numberpro

    numberpro Mu-43 Rookie

    21
    May 3, 2014
    Yeah, I think you are doing fine :). As for prices, well, I think it all depends on the club. I shoot at salsa clubs that do not make a lot of money. The entrance is only $5, and most of the money comes from drinks at the bar. What I might suggest is to offer a session for free, push out some photos and see what happens. When I did that, attendance really jumped! If that happens, you have more leverage to negotiate. You can also work the marketing angle. You can offer to send people their photos for posting on facebook, etc. and you can collect their contact info. This is valuable information for clubs. The key is that you must post the photos on social media. Then your pictures become a key part of the club's marketing. I don't do video, but what I've heard is that videos are more viral than photos, so if you produce a video and it gets something like 300 likes, then you've really got something. All this means more money in your pocket!

    Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions.
     
  20. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Sorry I missed my notifications and didn't respond to this earlier. I'm sure you've gotten this all sorted out now, but I'll answer these two small questions just so the knowledge is here for everyone. :)

    Using the pop-up as a remote commander will not essentially affect the resulting image... at least it's not supposed to (though there is sometimes residual left over). There are two reasons for this. One is that the light is not that bright, but the most important factor is time. When using the remote commander, it sends quick light signals BEFORE actually opening the shutter and firing the remote flash.

    However... as you can imagine that also causes lag. This is why it's best to avoid TTL. Even if you are using a radio system with negligible delay from the trigger, there is still delay from the light metering the flash does in order to operate automatically. So if you want to catch scenes on the spot when you press that shutter... then you want to use manual.

    If using an on-board flash (ie, like one mounted to the hotshoe or flash bracket) to trigger an external optical slave, there will not be a delay... however, your trigger light WILL affect your image. So in that case it's important to properly modify your trigger light (ie, like with a softbox), which means using a dedicated hotshoe flash to trigger and NOT the pop-up.