Flashes, what should I look for?

My first flash!
My first flash!

Today I just took the courage to buy my first flashgun. I know is a big leap of faith to me, as I usually get bored of everything, and I should probably give it a rest to the whole keep buying things for my camera and stuff, but is ok. I wanted, and I want to try some stuff that needs a flashgun (as you could have read around here, I really like highspeed photography, and I always struggle with the fact of not having a good flash to work with) so, why not?

Again, I was looking endlessly for hours and hours to look for the right flash to me (and probably one of the cheapest, as I don’t need the best of the best to start trying some things out) and I came up with a small guide of things that people should look for when thinking on buying a flash, and I thought you might be on the same position, or thinking about it, so… why wouldn’t I give you some tips on it?

1. Tilt head

First of all, and before getting deep into features that are complicated to understand for a begginer (at least for me flashes are still a little bit of chaos), the easiest thing we can look for on our flashgun is if it has a tilt head, that means that we’re able to move the head of our flash and bounce the light to a specific direction we want to.

2. High guide number

The guide number is what’s gonna determinate the power of your flash, the higher this number is, more powerful the flashgun will be. This number is what tells you the maximun distance at which your flash will be able to shoot and expose well, when shooting at ISO 100.

3. Different shooting modes

In general is good to have versatility when shooting and with different modes to make things easy. The summary on this topic should be reduced by three basic ones:

– TTL or automatic, which basically takes all the info from the camera, like aperture and speed, and adjust itself the exposure to the shoot.

– Manual, as it happens with the DSLR, this lets everything on your hand. You’d choose the power of your flash and how it will compensate the light of the shoot.

– Flash sync, this will mean when your flash will shoot regarding the shutter speed. There’s a maximal and a minimal shutter speed to shoot with a flash, so this is important to know about your flash.

4. Fast recycling time

If you plan on doing a shoot where you’ll need to shoot a frame next to the other, and so on, fast pace! Quick! No time for waiting! You’ll need your flash to have a fast recycling time, to be able to do this. This is the time that it’ll take to your flash to start shooting again, once it has already flashed.

5. Being able to sync with other flashes

Once you have more than a flash, you’ll be able to work with two of them as light sources, maybe even three at the same time, and you’ll need for that your flashes to be able to be slaves of a master flash, therefore, you’ll need your flashes to be able to sync and be masters/slave flashes.

I know this is quite confusing and is a lot of information, and maybe you’ll have to do like I did and just go for the cheapest one! Budget always prevail, right? But I hope this helps a little bit, and if you’ve any doubt, or you’ve more tips, please write on the comments below! Lets keep working and learning together!

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