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Swivel. Do I need it?

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by PointZero, May 15, 2012.

  1. PointZero

    PointZero Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 28, 2011
    I've been trying to look through the sub-forum for a thread on this, but it doesn't look like anyone has touched on it yet.

    I'm trying to decide if I need a flash with horizontal swivel capabilities, in addition to vertical tilt. I know I want vertical tilt so I can do bounce flash. However, would swivel be something I should look for in a flash as well? The main purpose seems to be facilitating bounce flash in portrait mode. Say that's rather irrelevant to me, would it still be a critical consideration? I plan on getting a softbox attachment for the flash anyways.

    Also, I've been looking for a compact flash for my EPM1. Right around the $100 range would be most ideal. The Fl-36 and some of the Metz (24, 36) seem to fit the bill. Are there other ones I should be considering? I don't want something like the Fl-300R; guide number and practicality rather moot compared to stock flash.

    Thanks in advance! I look forward to hearing input.
    Also, when I say approximately $100, I mean +/- 10% tolerance.
  2. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    I use swivel all the time, but that's because I'm using it on-camera without a remote. If you go off-camera, you no longer need tilt or swivel since you can aim the entire flash arbitrarily. I have the FL-36 and it does the job nicely, without remote functionality of course. I think it's definitely worth considering if you'd be better off with a cheaper non-swivel flash (possibly one of the Metz) and a remote trigger. You won't get TTL with the remote triggers, if that matters.

    The simple answer is yes, if you're on camera you want swivel. If you're off camera, it may not make any difference at all.
  3. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I use the swivel to aim my optical sensor if using my flash as a dumb slave. This of course will also apply to those who use off-camera TTL in RC mode. It's not always necessary, but it helps to make the trigger more reliable. My equipment is getting old, so this has now become a necessity where it never was before. If you use radio triggers, that point is moot. Good quality radio triggers can be very expensive though when you use half a dozen flash guns at a time.
  4. PointZero

    PointZero Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 28, 2011
    I plan on being pretty mobile, so the flash is going to stay on the hotshoe.
    Will a softbox diffuser lessen the need to for bounce flash?
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Yes. You don't use bounce at all with a softbox. A softbox will allow you to aim your light in the direction you want light to be, which will expand your capabilities far greater than bounce. I never use bounce, as it creates uneven lighting with greater exposure in the direction of the bounce instead of the subject, and of course limits you to shooting with a surface to bounce off of. A softbox will soften and broaden your light output from the source without disrupting directional control, and can be used anywhere.
  6. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    I find horizontal rotation to be a must - especially if I'm shooting with the flash mounted to the camera. By being able to rotate the flash head you can bounce it off of various surfaces, effectively creating larger, softer, directional light sources.
  7. SNTP

    SNTP Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 7, 2011
    For me I'd say it's not "necessary" but it certainly is convenient. instead of turning a lightstand you just turn your flash which is nice. I like using umbrellas and soon, a light-bender. there are some situations where i've had my flash on-camera and turned it 180 degrees to bounce off a wall behind me to make the light a little softer and yet somewhat direct. The way I see it, more options are better than less, and if the cost/quality is the same, go for the one with more options.
  8. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    If you'd like most of your indoor shots to cast hard ugly shadows behind your subject or if you like the look of horrible harsh light that removes detail, creates spectral highlights and uncontrollable contrast and above all, removes any possibility for flexibility and creativity, then you don't need swivel or bounce. But if one is useful, then so will the other be. You can do some pretty cool things with a hot shoe mounted flash but it usually involves bounce and swivel not bounce or swivel.

  9. steve16823

    steve16823 Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 26, 2011
    Brookfield, IL
    Keep in mind that the FL-300R published guide number specs are limited by the fixed focal length coverage. At 14mm coverage, the FL-300R has a GN of 20, and the FL-36R has a GN of 22 (ISO 100)

    The FL-36R achieves a GN of 36 only when focused at the 42mm setting. The actual light output of the two models are pretty similar.
  10. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    I fail to understand how the inability to bounce while in a portrait orientation isn't a big deal. Don't you tend to take portraits, in, um...portrait orientation? Suffice to say, I would never purchase an external flashgun that couldn't swivel. I'm just excited that my flashgun (Metz 50 AF-1) can swivel beyond 90 degrees right, which allows me to bounce up and behind a little bit when shooting vertical. Makes the light softer and less overhead. (If I have a wall nearby, I'll also go up/back/to the left to get a little more directional light and fill)
  11. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    That shoud read swivel. ;) 

    But yes, you are right. If you use bounce on a flash, then swivel is your vertical bounce in portrait orientation.
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