<![CDATA[Rss Feed]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog Tue, 25 Sep 2018 13:15:45 GMT Tue, 25 Sep 2018 13:15:45 GMT LemonStand <![CDATA[Beauty Dish Colour Comparison]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/beauty-dish-colour-comparison https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/beauty-dish-colour-comparison Tue, 25 Sep 2018 00:00:00 GMT

When trying to modify light to suit your shoot, there are many different options and variables to choose from. One of the more popular modifiers are Beauty Dishes, but even then, you will need to decide which colour beauty dish is better for your needs. In this Blog, we discuss the differences between Silver and White beauty dishes, and offer a visual explanation of these Beauty Dishes.

In terms of the softness of light, both types of beauty dish will be similar (provided that both beauty dishes are the same size, and are at the same distance away from your subject), however the Silver Beauty Dish will give you a more contrasting light with more specular highlights. The White Beauty Dish on the other hand, will result in a more natural looking lighting. A Silver Beauty Dish will also accentuate the texture in the skin more than a White Beauty Dish would.

The example photos below were both taken with a 55cm beauty dish with the identical camera settings (ISO 100, f/11 1/125 second). The one on the left was taken with a Silver Beauty Dish, and the one on the right was taken with a White Beauty Dish. Notice how much brighter the highlights are on the left photograph compared to the one on the right.

 

 photo White_Silver-beauty-dish-comparison_zpsd26adb42.jpg

Posted in: PiXAPRO Tips

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<![CDATA[KINO 600II+ vs Bowens Gemini 500r]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/kino-600ii-vs-bowens-gemini-500r https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/kino-600ii-vs-bowens-gemini-500r Thu, 06 Sep 2018 00:00:00 GMT With the Market full of different brands and different lights, everyone is looking to find the best choice for them, whether it is because of the specifications or the budget. In this Blog, we compare two more flashes, the Pixapro KINO 600II+ and the Bowens Gemini 500r, to see which of these two is best for you. As we know, Bowens was a large company for lighting, but this company has now closed. So whereas you are still able to purchase the Gemini500r from different retailers, it is doubtful you would receive the same care and attention you would if you purchased the KINO600II+, as we offer a 2-Year UK warranty on all our lights. 

Power

Whilst both of these flashes are very powerful, each of these have positives to them. The KINO600II+ has a maximum power of 600Ws, which is 100Ws more than the Bowens Gemini that has 500Ws. But the Gemini 500r comes with a 250w Modelling Lamp, which is more powerful than the KINO 600II+ that has a 150W Modelling Lamp. So, in different ways, each light has its own positives over the other when it comes to power.

Colour Temperature

The Colour Temperature of both of these lights is nearly identical, but the KINO600II+ is just a little bit more precise than the Gemini 500r. The Gemini 500r has a colour temperature of 5600K ± 300K, which is good, but the KINO600II+ has a colour temperature of 5600K ± 200K, meaning that the colour temperature of the KINO600II+ is more accurate than the Gemini 500r as it offers a more precise temperature.

Recycle Times

The Gemini 500r has a quicker recycle time at full power, at 1.3 seconds, compared to the KINO600II+ which comes in at 1.5 seconds. This means that the Gemini 500r is faster, only at full power, than the KINO600II+. But this difference is simply due to the fact that the Gemini only has a maximum power of 500W, compared to the 600W the KINO offers. So whereas it has a faster recycling time at its own max power, if we were to adjust the KINO600 down to 500W, the recycling will be approximately the same  and very similar.

Flash Duration

Whilst each of the flashes have a quick flash duration, the Gemini 500r is just a little bit quicker at full power. The KINO600II+ comes with a flash duration of 1/800 of a Second, compared to the slightly faster 1/900 of a second that comes with the Gemini 500r.

Usability

For usability, each of the flashes have their own positives. The dimensions of the Gemini 500r are smaller than the KINO600II+, at approximately 113mm x 170mm x 380mm compared to approximately 140mm x 260mm x 410mm, which would make you believe that the Gemini 500r would be more portable and easier to move, but it also is heavier. The KINO600II+ weighs 2.91KG compared to the Gemini 500r which weighs 3.4KG, making it nearly half a KG heavier. So even though the Gemini may take less space when storing it, it will also be more difficult for you to carry.

Extras

The KINO600II+ is part of the ONE system by Pixapro. What this means is that you are able to control multiple flashes can be controlled by the same trigger at the same time. So, if you are already using Pixapro flashes, you will be able to add the KINO600II+ to your set-up and it will fit seamlessly in.  The KINO600II+ is also covered by Pixapro’s 2 Year UK warranty. Meaning that if during this period, something was to happen to the KINO600II+, you will be covered and can get in touch with the company to solve any issues that may arise. As Bowens is no longer a functioning company, it would be very difficult to find anywhere who could offer this level of warranty for the Gemini 500r.

Summary

KINO600II+

-          Has a higher maximum power

-          Has a better colour temperature

-          Has a lighter weight

-          Comes with a 2-year UK Warranty

-          Part of the ONE system

 

Gemini 500r 

-          Has a more powerful modelling bulb

-          Has a faster recycling time (at full power only. This is due to the 500W max power, compared to the 600W offered by the KINO600)

-          Has a quicker flash duration (at full power)

-          Is smaller in size

 

Conclusion

Both of these flashes have positives over the other. The KINO600II+ is more powerful, lighter and has a better colour temperature whilst the Gemini 500r has a quicker recycling time and flash duration, a more powerful modelling lamp and is smaller in dimensions. But with the benefit of being part of the ONE system and the 2-year UK warranty that is on offer with the KINO600II+, we can help but believe that you will benefit more from choosing the KINO600II+.

Posted in: PiXAPRO Tips

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<![CDATA[New LED100D MKIII Light]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/new-led100d-mkiii-light https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/new-led100d-mkiii-light Thu, 30 Aug 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Posted in: PiXAPRO Tips

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<![CDATA[ST-IV TCM Function]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/st-iv-tcm-function https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/st-iv-tcm-function Wed, 22 Aug 2018 00:00:00 GMT

In this Video, we join Portrait Photographer Jason Vaughan as he explains the benefits of the ST-IV TTL flash trigger's TCM Function.

 

Video created by Jason Vaughan and PiXAPRO

Posted in: PiXAPRO Tips

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<![CDATA[CITI600 PRO vs PROFOTO B1X]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/citi600-pro-vs-profoto-b1x https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/citi600-pro-vs-profoto-b1x Thu, 16 Aug 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Many photographers are looking to find the best flash, which meets both their technical requirements as well as if they are true value for money. Today we compare two flashes, the CITI600 PRO and the PROFOTO B1X, to see which flash comes out on top.

Power

When it comes to Power, the CITI600 beats the PROFOTO B1X in more ways than one. Whilst the B1X comes with 500W Max Power, the CITI600 PRO has 600w. The PRO also has a much more powerful battery, with a Lithium-ion 28.8v battery, which is double the strength of the B1X Lithium-ion battery at just 14.4V, this shows in the amount of flashes per charge also. At full power, the B1X can manage approximately 325 flashes whereas the PRO can manage approximately 370 flashes, meaning that you are able to get much more out of the PRO compared to the B1X. The Modelling bulb for the PRO also has a stronger output than the B1X, with it being 38W compared to 24W.

Features

For technical features, both the CITI600 PRO and the PROFOTO B1X are pretty evenly matched. Both flashes come with TTL (Through the Lens) and both flashes come with High Speed Sync, which can shoot up to 1/8000 of a second. So, in this regard, both of the lights are a good option.

Recycle times

With both flashes coming with high quality batteries with high voltage, they have both got very high recycling times, but with the CITI600 PRO having a battery that is twice as powerful as the B1X, this also improves the recycling time. The CITI600 PRO has a recycle time of between 0.01 and 0.90 seconds and the B1X has recycle time of between 0.1 and 1.9 seconds. So, the B1X has a much wider time range and the PRO has a much quicker recycle time, making the CITI600 PRO the better option in this regard.

Flash Duration

The Flash duration for both flashes is of high quality also, but there are some slight differences between the two. At T0.1 and depending on the flash power output, The B1X has a flash duration of between 1/400-1/6000 of a second and the CITI600 PRO has a flash duration of between 1/220 – 1/10000 of a second. Therefore, the CITI600 PRO does have a much quicker flash duration, but it also comes with a much wider range of time for the change in flash power. So, depending on your needs and requirements, you can decide which flash best suits you.

Price

Comparing the prices of these two products, The CITI600 PRO comes out on top in this regard also. The price for the Profoto B1X can range from anywhere between £1300 to £2000, which is a large sum when you compare this to the CITI600 PRO, which currently costs just £799. And looking at the specifications, we can’t see why there should be such a wide margin in cost, so that is another positive for the CITI600 PRO.

Usability

Each of these flashes are built with usability in mind, meaning that they are created to make it as easy and simple to use as possible. Both of these flashes have a net weight of 3kg, but they do differ in the dimensions of the units themselves. The CITI600 PRO has a larger height of 220m compared to 210mm for the B1X, but the B1X is longer and wider than the CITI600 PRO. It has a length of 310mm and a width of 140mm compared to the PRO with has a length of 245mm and a width of 125mm. So, whilst there isn’t much of a difference in the Height and Width of the two flashes, the length of the B1X is approximately 6.5cm longer than the PRO, which is a very noticeable difference and could affect the transport and usability of the flash head. Both flashes come with a high-quality display screen and easy to use buttons/dials, making it less complicated for users and easier for photographers who may not have as much experience with these types of flashes before.

Conclusion

Both of these flashes are very good quality. They both are capable to do a shoot at a very high standard and are more than enough to meet your needs. But after looking into the specifications of each flashes and having an in-depth look at both at them, the CITI600 PRO seems to just have the edge on the B1X. Even though some of the differences are minimal, the extra battery power and stronger modelling bulb, as well as the much faster recycling times means the CITI600 PRO would be the better option to choose.

Posted in: PiXAPRO Tips

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<![CDATA[Miniature Photography]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/getting-results-in-camera-miniature-photography https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/getting-results-in-camera-miniature-photography Thu, 16 Aug 2018 00:00:00 GMT

 

In this video, we Join Photographer Barry Mountford, as he creates a miniature scene, using a CITI600, PIKA200s and Mixed with Li-ion580II speedlites.

 

 

Video created by Barry Mountford and PIXAPRO

Posted in: PIXAPRO Behind The Scene

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<![CDATA[CITI600 Product Shot]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/citi600-product-shot https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/citi600-product-shot Wed, 15 Aug 2018 00:00:00 GMT

 

A video showing a great way of lighting and shooting our CITI600 Flash and teaching you a useful light setup you can use yourself.

 

Video created by Barry Mountford

Posted in: PiXAPRO Tips

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<![CDATA[The Spike]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/the-spike https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/the-spike Tue, 17 Jul 2018 00:00:00 GMT The Spike 

The Spike is a brand-new piece of equipment that would be an incredible addition to any and every photographers’ collection.

My photography career for the last ten years has mainly been focused on motorsport photography. I found that I needed to find a way to get around the race track quickly into new places whilst also being able to set up the best lighting for the perfect shot. No other piece of equipment that I tried could meet those requirements, so I decided that a new piece had to be created, and that is how the Spike was born. I have spent many years working on creating the perfect Spike, and now I believe I have finally finished it. Many colleagues in the photography world have now commented on how well the Spike works for them in a wide variety of situations.

It is created from a combination of Steel and Aluminium, this makes it incredibly versatile and very lightweight meaning that it can be taken to any shoot without much fuss. The Spike can not only be used as a stand for your lighting, but it can be used as a support for your camera or as a rest. Simply by adding the correct adapter, it is easy to fit a ball-head fitting to support your camera. This piece of equipment is a useful tool if you are trying to take shots of different things which would require you constantly moving position as well as changing your surroundings. This means that you are able to get high quality lighting at a rapid pace as set up is as simple as placing it into the ground. The Spike comes with a spiral base, which means that it can dig into many different types of surfaces and grounds, perfect for nature photographers.

The Spike is now available in two different sizes, 12” and 24”, meaning that it suits whatever scenario you find yourself in. It is also fully extendable, which will give you plenty of different options and choices when it comes to selecting the right lighting for your shot. The Spike can be used with many different speedlight brackets and can be attached to flashes all the way through to the latest CITI600 flash.

The Spike - a Revolutionary mounting stand created by Photographer Colin Brister

Posted in: PiXAPRO Tips

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<![CDATA[An introduction to buying Studio Flash Lights]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/an-introduction-to-buying-studio-flash-lights https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/an-introduction-to-buying-studio-flash-lights Tue, 10 Jul 2018 00:00:00 GMT 1.    Flash Power

Generally, for a small studio or home studio, 200Ws flashes are usually sufficient, however if you have a big studio and require a bit more flexibility, a higher-powered flash may be more suitable.

200Ws flashes are good for both amateurs and professionals alike. They work well in Home Studios or smaller studio spaces as they’re not too overpowering. They work well for photographing children and new-borns as well as small product photography and small groups of approximately two.

 

400Ws flashes are also good for home studios where you have a bigger space to work with. In a small space you may find 400Ws flash a bit over-powering, depending on the type of look you’re going for. 400Ws flashes are great for portraiture photography or larger groups of up to 6 people as well as photographing larger products.

 

600W’s are great for use in larger studio spaces or spaces with high ceilings. 600Ws flashes work well for photographing large products such as vehicles and machinery. They also work well for outdoor shoots and for shooting large groups of up to 20 people.

 

Please note that this is only a guideline and your individual needs may vary depending on your photographic style, and the look you would like to achieve. Also, the amount of lighting that you will be using will affect what flash you can use for example if you have lots of other lighting then you can get away with having a lower wattage flash for a larger area.

 

2.   Power Range

It's always good to have flashes that give you the option of reducing the flash power down as much as possible. The majority of cheaper flashes on the market, can only be turned down to 1/8 or 1/16 of their full power, which limits your ability to shoot at wider apertures should you need to. Our LUMI II series and Kino II series flashes go down to 1/32. Our Higher-end PIXAPRO STORM II 600, as well as our portable flashes such as the PIKA200 go down to 1/128th of its power. The CITI600 Series flashes can be turned down to 1/256th of its full power, giving you even more flexibility on your photoshoot projects.  

 

3.   Flash Duration

Flash Duration is how long the burst of flash lasts for. Flashes with shorter flash durations have the ability to freeze motion. Flash duration is not so much of a concern if you are photographing still life, or for shooting portrait where there is very little movement (please bear in mind we have all have slight body movements when standing still), in which case most standard studio flashes should work fine.

However, if you are photographing action such as car racing, sports, children, water splashes etc. you will need a flash that can deliver shorter flash durations to ensure that the motion in the photograph is frozen with no motion blur. The best flash for this is the CITI600 as it has a can produce flash durations of between 1/220 second to 1/10,000 second whilst maintaining colour accuracy throughout.

On the other hand, The STORM II 400 has a flash duration of 1/416second to1/4983 second and the STORM II 600 has a flash duration of 1/316 second to 1/4246 whilst maintain colour accuracy as a result the STORMII400 and STORMII600 are great for wedding, portraiture, advertising and fashion photography as they are lightweight and compact flashes.

Also, the PIKA200 is a great portable flash with a good flash duration of 1/220 to 1/13000. The PIKA200 is great for the photographer on the go as it’s small enough to fit in a pocket but has the power of three speedlights. In addition, with its array of features such as a multi-flash mode which allows you to do stroboscopic photography.

 

4.   Recycling Time

The recycle time is the amount of time it takes for the flash to recharge after being fired. Recycle time is a very important thing to think about when you would like to take a lot of photos in quick succession. The faster the recycle time the better and the less likely you are to get mis-fires. All of our flashes have a very fast recycle time enabling you capture the perfect image.

CITI600: 0.01 to 2.5 seconds

STORM400: 0.005 to 0.7 seconds

LUMI400: 0.3 to 1.5 seconds

 

5.   Accessory Fitting

The accessory fitting is the bayonet type is used to mount accessories such as soft boxes and reflectors. Luckily, nearly all of our flashes have use the Bowens S-Type fitting (which is the most common accessory fitting) meaning that they’re compatible with a wide variety of different modifiers. Bowens S-Type is the most common fitting in the studio flash industry however we have more options available.

 

6.   Modelling Lamp

The Modelling lamp is a continuous light, normally located in the centre of the flash-tube as close as possible to the flash tube. The Modelling lamp is designed to give you an idea of the effect the flash will give once fired. For example, where the light will fall on the subject, or the density and direction of the shadows etc. Some flashes have proportional modelling lamps this means that the brightness of the modelling lamp goes up and down as you change the flash power. Manual modelling lamps enable you can manually adjust the modelling bulb’s brightness.

 

7.   Optical Slave Cell

Enabling the Optical Slave Mode on your flash triggers that particular to fire when it senses the flash from another speedlight / studio flash. Slave mode is very easy to set up and will enable you use multiple flashes at the same time without additional receivers. However, one of the main weaknesses of using the optical slave function, is that your flashes all require direct line-of-sight in order for the flashes be able to see each other. Bright sunlight can also over-power the flash signal meaning that the other flashes don’t see the flash the they need to trigger from.

 

8.   Flash Tube

There are two types of flash tubes: Bare-bulb styled, and traditional horse-shoe styled flash tubes.

The main difference between these two types of flash tube is that the bare-bulb styled flash tubes tends to protrude more than the traditional horse-shoe styled flash tubes, allowing the light to radiate in all directions. Bare bulb flash tubes tend to illuminate softbox more evenly and will give a better effect when using with parabolic umbrellas. All PIXAPRO portable studio flashes feature a bare bulb flash tube design such as CITI600, CITI600PRO, Hybrid360 and PIKA200.

 

Traditional horse-shoe styled flash tubes tend to sit more recessed compared to their bare-bulb counterparts and produce more directional lighting. All PIXAPRO mains powered flashes comes with traditional horse-shoe type flash tube as well as a glass dome (this is a unique feature available on PIXAPRO mains power flash compare to other brands at a similar price point).  By using the glass dome produces a more omni-directional light which gives better spread of light, to get the most out of your flash modifiers. The glass dome adds a bit of protection to the Flashtube, reducing the risk of impact damage.

 

9.   Radio Flash Triggering System

The PIXAPRO ONE System, is a 2.4GHz Radio frequency flash triggering system that is designed to trigger all of the flashes in the Pixapro eco-system. Since the PIXAPRO ONE system uses radio waves as opposed to light to trigger the flashes, they do not require Direct line of sight, which gives you a lot more possibilities compared to using optical slave systems. All of our current flashes (with the exception of the RIKO400 Ring flash) feature a built-in 2.4GHz flash receiver that is compatible with both our ST-III and ST-IV triggers. This means that you only need one trigger to control and trigger our full range of flashes and speedlites without needing to carry around lots of different triggers.

 

10.  High-Speed Sync

High-Speed sync enables you to shoot at shutter speeds faster than your camera’s sync speed, enabling you to control the brightness of the sky with your camera’s shutter speed, and then using the flash to illuminate your subject. This feature is perfect when you have-to shoot outdoors on a bright sunny day. For more information on high-speed sync, please see our blog post about high-speed sync.

All of our current Portable Flashes and our STORM II series flashes all support High-Speed Sync.

 

Conclusion

As mentioned, a lot will depend on your budget but also your preference, shooting style and your requirements. Studio lights can cost a lot of money, but they are worth the investment as they for the most part is very reliable and can last you for many years to come.

We recommend a studio flash should that can be turned down to at least 1/32 of its full power. We also recommend studio flashes that use a Bowens S-Type accessory mount and give the option of adjusting the modelling bulb brightness, and a slave cell. The ability to adjust your flash power from the trigger.

Fast recycling time of 1.5 seconds at full power, or less would also be an advantage, and flash durations of around 1/10,000 of a second which would give you the ability to freeze motion. TTL (an automated system in which works together with your camera’s metering system but using a "Preflash" to determine the correct flash exposure that is required). Multi-flash mode is also handy for creating stroboscopic motion effects. All these are available for All PIXAPRO portable flash and on the STORM II mains power flash range.

 

Posted in: PiXAPRO Tips

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<![CDATA[CITI600 vs CITI600 PRO]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/citi600-vs-citi600-pro https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/citi600-vs-citi600-pro Tue, 10 Jul 2018 00:00:00 GMT CITI600 vs CITI600 PRO

Many people have been asking the question “Which Flash is better for me, the CITI600 or the new CITI600 PRO?”. So, in this Blog post, we have dived into the stats and specifications and given you the run-down of the positives and negatives of both CITI600 Series models.

Obviously, with the CITI600 PRO being the newer, more advanced model, it is going to have a lot of advantages over the original CITI600, it does also have one or two drawbacks over the original CITI600 model.

New Brighter 38W LED modelling lamp

One of the biggest improvements over the Original CITI600 model, it that the CITI600 Pro now features a new 38W LED modelling lamp, which is considerably brighter than the 10w LED modelling lamp of its predecessor. Unlike the original CITI600 model where you only had three power levels to choose from, the CITI600 Pro’s modelling lamp can now be steplessly adjusted between 100% down to 5% of its maximum power. The new modelling lamp can also be set to proportional, meaning that the modelling lamp will automatically get brighter or darker, in relation to power that your flash output is set to.

New Flash Tube Design.


The CITI600 Pro now has a new flash tube design, sporting the traditional horse-shoe styled design, encased in a glass enclosure, with a frosted front to diffuse the light to prevent hotspots. The flash tube also protrudes further out into the modifier, for better light spread and efficiency.

Faster Recycle Times.


The CITI600 Pro uses a new battery with a higher voltage, allowing for considerably faster recycle times over the original CITI600 model. The Recycle times have been reduced from 2.5 seconds at maximum power, down to 0.9 seconds at maximum power, which is less than half the time it takes the original CITI600 model to recycle. This is ideal for shooting sports or action photography.

Colour Temperature consistency Improved


Another major improvement over the standard CITI600 model is the addition of the new Stable Colour mode, which locks the colour temperature within ±75°K of 5600°K over its entire power range. This makes the CITI600 Pro a good option for photography jobs where colour consistency is critical such as commercial or advertising photography.

Re-designed Angle Adjustment Mechanism.


The CITI600 Pro features a re-designed all-metal mounting bracket with a new stepless angle adjustment mechanism. This new mounting bracket enables you to smoothly and precisely adjust the angle of your CITI600 Pro head to whichever position you require, as opposed to the, notched angle adjustment mechanism of the standard CITI600 model.

 The CITI600 Pro’s mounting bracket has a unique design, featuring second hole and threaded mounting hole so that you can now mount the strobe vertically onto a lightstand when using the CITI600 Pro flash in conjunction with the remote head accessory. To do this, simply get a Pixapro Super Convi-Clamp with the 5/8inch spigot, and then simply mount your CITIT600 Pro Head to it, using the secondary hole on the mounting bracket (please remember to take remove the tightening screw from its primary position, and put it the other threaded hole before attempting to mount your CITI600 Pro head vertically.


Some of The Drawbacks.


Although the CITI600 PRO is the newer, more advanced model, the original CITI600s still excel in some areas. With all the new additions and improvements added to the CITI600 Pro, the dimensions and the weight of the CITI600 Pro has increased to 250mm x 245mm x 125mm compared to the 220mm x 245mm x 125mm of the original CITI600, making the Pro approximately 30mm longer. The original CITI600 is also slightly lighter than the PRO, weighing approximately 2.66kg in total compared to the PRO which weighs approximately 3kg. This means that the original CITI600 is both smaller and lighter than the CITI600 Pro.

Another feature in the favour of the original CITI600, is that you can get considerably more full-powered shots is at full the power per-charge. Some of the battery capacity was sacrificed due to the increased power of the modelling lamp and the faster recycling times. The CITI600 PRO can do approximately 360 full-powered shots on a single charge, as opposed to approximately 500 Full-powered shots on a single charge that the original CITI600 is capable of.

 

Should I Get the Original CITI600, or should I go for the CITI600 Pro?


The CITI600 Pro wasn’t designed to be a replacement for the original CITI600, it was more designed to be a higher-end version of the original CITI600. Both are very capable flashes, and either model will fit the needs of the majority of photographers out there. If you shoot a lot of commercial/advertising work, where colour consistency is critical, or if shoot a lot of fast-paced action/sports work, then the CITI600 Pro would be the better option for you. However, if you mainly shoot portraits, weddings, or just shoot for fun, then the original CITI600 models should easily satisfy your needs… Though if you have the budget for it, going of the CITIT600 Pro wouldn’t hurt in those situations either. 

Posted in: PiXAPRO Tips

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<![CDATA[How to Choose the best Softbox for you!]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/how-to-choose-the-best-softbox-for-you https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/how-to-choose-the-best-softbox-for-you Thu, 05 Jul 2018 00:00:00 GMT How to choose the right softbox

There’s so many softboxes out there that it can be hard to find the right one. This blog post breaks down all the information you need to know about softboxes.

 


1.  Size

There are a lot of different sized softboxes available, so it can be hard to know whether you’re getting the right one or not. However, the variety of sizes and distances from your subject can mean endless opportunities. In general, the smaller the light source, the more concentrated and harsher the light will be, and the larger the light source the softer the light is.

Larger softboxes work well for portraiture photography or large areas as they produce softer lighting with more gradual transitions between light and shadow. Large soft light sources also make skin blemishes less apparent, making them an ideal modifier for general portraiture as they produce a quality of light that will flatter pretty much anyone. Larger softboxes are also great for photographing full-length body shots, as well as for photographing larger groups, as larger softboxes will spread light over a wider area.

The most common use size of softbox is 90cm Easy Open Softbox (1-2 peoples) and the largest size is 170cm (which is suitable for larger group).  

Smaller softboxes work well for product photography or macro shots as they produce more contrasty lighting, whilst still reducing specular highlights. Smaller softboxes, also work well for more dramatic and low-key portraiture as you will get more contrast on your subject compared to a larger softbox. We sell a range of smaller and medium sized softboxes such as our 65cm Softbox and our 60x90cm Easy open softbox.

In conclusion, it’s generally useful to have a selection of softboxes to enable you to achieve a variety of different looks. In addition to the physical size of your softbox, distance of the softbox from your subject will affect how your lighting looks. The closer your softbox is to your subject, the quicker the light falls off, and the further your light is from your subject, the less dramatic the light fall off is.

 


2.  Shape

There are three main types of softbox; Rectangular/Square Softboxes, Strip softboxes (also referred to as Stripboxes) and Octagonal softboxes (also referred to as Octoboxes), and it can often be difficult to know which type to go for, so here is a breakdown of the three main types:

Octagonal Softboxes:

Octagonal softboxes produce pleasing, natural looking lighting, with pleasing round catch lights in the eyes of your subjects. Rectangular Softbox will often be more obvious especially when shooting highly-reflective surfaces as rectangular softboxes will leave a tell-tale rectangular specular highlight or catchlight, which doesn’t look as natural as the organic curves and circles you will receive with an octagonal softbox.

Rectangular / Square softboxes:

Rectangular or square softboxes can be used to emulate window light. In addition, the rectangular softbox are a lot easier to mask and use gobos with due to the straight edges as a result it is easier for you to manipulate the light as well a mirror it on an opposite light. This usually comes with standard lighting kit such as LUMI200 Twin softbox kit etc

Strip Softboxes:

Strip softbox produce a narrow band of light and are most commonly used for rim-lighting your subject, to separate them from the background.  Multiple stripboxes can be arranged in a square or in a triangular formation, to create sort of ring light effect. They are useful for creating side lighting for full length fashion photos or portraits.

30x90cm Easy Open softbox is great for lighting head shots, or half-body shots, and the larger 30x120cm and 35x160cm standard softboxes or the 30x140cm Easy-Open softboxes are great for full body shots. Strip boxes are also really well suited to product photography, allowing you to create strips of light on your product, or can be used to make pleasing gradients when used in conjunction with a scrim/diffuser.

 


3.  Set Up

At PIXAPRO we have two different types softboxes. Standard Softboxes and Easy Open Softboxes.

Standard softboxes are the traditional styled softboxes that you have to assemble by inserting four or eight rods (depending on the shape of softbox you have) into the softbox’s outer shell, and then insert the other end of the rods into the speed ring located at the centre of the softbox. Standard softboxes are good for use in permanent studios, where they can be set up once, and then left fully assembled as they’re not the easiest to continually assemble and disassemble. Here is a video to show how to assemble a standard strip softbox.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOBOsGg6T48

If you would like to use your softbox on the go and keep putting up and taking it down, then an Easy Open Softbox is the best option for you. They feature an opening mechanism like that of an umbrella. Simply rest the softbox on the floor (speedring-down) and then push the runner down along the shaft, until the runner locks into place. Once the main body of the umbrella has been set up, then simply attach the diffusers (and also grid if required) using the Velcro tabs located around the inner perimeter of the softbox.

Here is a video to show how to assemble an easy open softbox

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVTNpQw46Kg

So, if you’re a photographer who is continually on the go, then the Easy Open softbox would be better for you. If you have a permanent studio and you have the room the leave your softboxes assembled, then a standard softbox would be fine, as it will save you a bit of money.


4.  Diffusion

All our softboxes comes with two layers of diffusion, which is designed to produce very even illumination over the entire area of the softbox. The diffusers help to convert the harsh point light source of your flash, into a larger, softer light-source which produces an even and diffused quality of light that is more flattering for your subject.  The Diffusion also reduces specular highlights and deep shadows.

Softboxes are commonly used in portraiture and commercial photography as they replicate the light from a north facing window that was commonly used in the early days of photography to get the best lighting.


5.  Honeycomb Grid

Honeycomb Grids (also known as an Egg-Crates) are used to restrict the spread of light, preventing light from spilling onto areas that you don’t want light to fall, such as on the background when you are shooting a low-key image. Here ate PIXAPRO, we measure our Honeycomb grids in centimetres. The smaller the grid, the more restricted the spread of light will be.

With honeycomb grids, there is a slight loss of light compared to the softbox without a honeycomb fitted. There is also a slight loss of softness since the spread of light is being restricted. However, both issues can be rectified by moving your softbox slightly closer to your subject if possible, this will compensate for the light loss, and make the apparent size of your light bigger which makes your light softer.

Honeycomb grids are especially useful for reducing the chance of getting lens flare when you are backlighting or rim-lighting your subject.

 

Posted in: PiXAPRO Tips

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<![CDATA[Best Free Photo Editing Software]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/best-free-photo-editing-software https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/best-free-photo-editing-software Thu, 03 May 2018 00:00:00 GMT There are so many different editing software’s out there that it’s hard to know which are good and which ones aren’t worth it. Here we break down our pick of the 6 of the best free editing software’s so you can know which is the best for you.

 

1.GIMP

GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Programme and has been running since 1996. It is a free programme used for photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. You get a lot of features that come in premium software, for example photoshop, such as colour correcting, editing brightness and contrast and removing red eyes. It can take a bit of time to master it but they have lots of good tutorials on YouTube as well as a user manual that comes in 17 different languages. 

It is the closest free software to Photoshop so it saves you a lot of money as there is no monthly subscription fee

It is available to download on both PC an MAC (but may require additional software)

 

2.Paint.NET 

 

 

Paint.NET is similar to GIMP as it is a free photo editing software modelled on Photoshop. However, Paint.NET was created to be simple and innovative so that you could learn how to use it yourself without any assistance. Similarly, to photoshop it works with editing your photos in layers tabs and an unlimited undo button. In addition, they have a range of special features such as editing brightness and contrast as well as red eye removal, blurring and sharpening images. Furthermore, as well as unlimited undo they also store your history so you can redo anything you may have undone. As well, if you are struggling to use it they have a wealth of tutorials to help guide you.

 

Unfortunately, Apple users it is only available on PC

Download now on Windows PC

 

3.Photoshop Express

 

 

Photoshop Express is the stripped-down version of Photoshop that allows you to do basic editing on your phone or tablet. You have to have flash installed and a web connection to use it. It can take up to 2GB of photos, they have to be in a JPEG format, uploading can take a while depending on your web connection but it's quick to use once they're uploaded. The app features a range of adjustments such as the basics like cropping, rotation and adding text. You can also auto fix your photos which means that the app will perfectly balance out the contrast, exposure and white balance so you have the perfect image. 

However, this is a very simple editing app and does not come close to the premium version. However, if you just want to do some basic editing to improve your images then this is the perfect app for you.

 

It is available for download on the App Store (Apple), Google Play (Android) and Windows Store

 

4. Pixlr

 

 

Pixlr is a photo editing app that has the most similar interface compared to Photoshop. They offer a variety of items such as crop, brightness and contrast and rotation. However, it also offers more advanced tools that you wouldn't find in other free photo editors such as the lasso tool and the clone stamp tool. It is designed to be a very easy to use website but if you're struggling they also offer help on their blog as well as having photography tips and 5 crowd favourites of photos made with Pixlr. It is not an app you can download on your PC or MAC however it works in all web browsers. You can download a Mobile App which is a slightly more simplified version of the website.

 

It is available for download on App Store (Apple) and Google Play (Android)

 

5. Fotoflexer

 

 

Fotoflexer is probably the simplest of the editing programmes but would be good for beginners. You can do basic edits such as cropping, rotating and editing the brightness and contrast. It has no layer tab so you are limited to what you can do but if you want to slightly improve an image it would be great for that. The one feature that this website has is you can edit images directly from Facebook, Flickr, Photobucket and more. A great website if you want to develop your editing skills or make small adjustments to images. You need to have flashplayer installed to use the website

 

Available on all Web Browsers

 

6. Photo Pos Pro

 

 

Photo Pos Pro's is one of the lesser known software’s on this list but it is rivalling some of the bigger names such as GIMP and Paint.NET. It has a very similar interface to Photoshop with a wide range of features all logically ordered. However, if you're a beginner and having lots of menus intimidates you, don't worry they have a beginner’s filter so you can get to grips with a great piece of software. The 'expert' layer offers more advanced editing options such as adjusting curves and levels as well as using layer masks and the clone stamp. The only down side is you can only save files at a maximum of 1,024 x 2,014 pixels which might be a slight problem if you wanted them printed professionally. Overall, a good piece of software if you're starting out editing your photos or an expert who wants to save some money.

Unfortunately, for MAC users it is only available for download on PC

 

Available for download now on Windows

Posted in: PiXAPRO Tips

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<![CDATA[PiXAPRO Studio Flashes - Best In Test!]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/pixapro-studio-flashes-best-in-test https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/pixapro-studio-flashes-best-in-test Wed, 07 Mar 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Posted in: PiXAPRO Reviews

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<![CDATA[The ONE System - Control all your PIXAPRO flashes from the one trigger!]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/the-one-system-seamless-connectivity-with-all-your-flashes https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/the-one-system-seamless-connectivity-with-all-your-flashes Mon, 29 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

The ONE System

The ONE System is the new revolutionary system that will allow you to control all your lights, be it our CITI600, STORM400, PIKA200, or even Li-Ion580. With the one system you can seamlessly control your flashes with the one trigger, removing the need to use a different trigger system.

 

 

Posted in: PiXAPRO Multimedia

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<![CDATA[What is TTL and is it any good on the PIXAPRO CITI600 TTL.]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/what-is-ttl-and-is-it-any-good-on-the-pixapro-citi600-ttl https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/what-is-ttl-and-is-it-any-good-on-the-pixapro-citi600-ttl Tue, 21 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT In this article I aim to explain what TTL is, what is does and how it can be implemented into a photographic workflow. I also go on to share my test images from a recent shoot where I tested the TTL abilities of the PixaPro Citi600 TTL flash head. The test shots provided below show you exactly the strengths and the weaknesses of the function for a variety of situations.

TTL stands for 'Through The Lens' and it's a term used to describe exposure metering based on what your camera sees. In relation to TTL flash photography your camera will take a reading by firing a 'test' flash when you press the shutter, it will then decode that data received by that initial flash and then fire a second flash to capture your image at the correct power and exposure immediately afterwards. All this happens in a split second and you may not even notice the initial flash going off.
TTL has actually been around since the 80's and it was developed by Nikon in 1980 and later by Canon in 1987, since then is has become a fairly standard technology and the use of TTL is often seen being used on a wide variety of cameras with built in flashes. When these cameras are set to auto mode they'll often employ this technology which ensures a correctly exposed flash image nearly every single time regardless of the situation making it nearly essential for everyday compact cameras.

 

So if it's been around for so long, what's the big deal with TTL now?
Although TTL technology has been around for a long time, it's struggled with off-camera flash TTL and the exposures and looks that type of lighting produces. In recent times though TTL has seen a lot of advances and it's off-camera flash lighting has become incredibly consistent in this field which has opened up a world of uses that were previously very hard to rely on.

Imagine you're at a wedding taking pictures and the bride is walking down the aisle. As usual the venue is fairly dark so you need to light the scene with flash. Normally this would be fairy simple if the subject was stationary as you could dial in an exposure and quickly make any adjustments, nailing the exposure within one or two shots. But in this instance, your subject is walking towards you and you're flash. As she gets closer to the flash she'll get more and more over-exposed unless the flash power is turned down consistently with every frame. It's the job of TTL job to make these shot-by-shot exposure changes for you ensuring that every single shot you take is correctly exposed every time.

Now imagine the same scenario but you're in a different part of the room to your flash. The bride is still walking towards your flash but you can now move around after every frame as well. Combining this freedom of movement and consistently of exposure whether your flash is on or off your camera is what makes TTL such a creative and exciting tool.

How does TTL work?
Like I mentioned, TTL looks at the exposure of a scene based on that initial pre-flash and adjusts the power of the actual flash accordingly. All you need to do is set your camera up with the settings you want to achieve and the flash plus the camera will work together to always correctly expose the image within the parameters you've give them.

For example if you set your camera to manual mode at ISO 100, 1/125th second shutter speed and f5.6, the camera and flash will work together to adjust the power of the flash to correctly exposure the shot. Similarly though, if you have your camera set to ISO 1600, 1/4000th second shutter speed and f11 your flash and camera will work together to get a correctly exposed image. In fact if there was no ambient light affecting either of those shots, they would look exactly the same. Both would be correctly exposed.

 

Manually Overriding TTL
So if you can't adjust the normal camera settings in the camera to affect the exposure, are you left at the mercy of what the TTL metering considers correct? Well thankfully we can tweak our exposure a fair amount via the 'Exposure Compensation' function on our camera. Adjusting this up and down gives a decent amount of control either way and in some cameras as much as five stops over or five stops under, (10 stops in total) which is more than enough for most situations.

TTL Function on the Godox/PixaPro Citi 600 TTL
As a studio shooter myself I had never used TTL because I always had the time and ability to adjust my lights when needed, as a result I'd never needed the TTL function in the past. Recently though I picked the PixaPro Citi600 TTL head and I wanted to play with the remote head and a ring flash adapter. For those that don't know, the remote head is a cable that ingeniously plugs into where the flash bulb goes, you then move the flash bulb to the other end of the cable. This is essentially like having a flash on a cable that you can then connect modifiers too. This means that I can now handhold my flash and modifier whilst the bulk and weight of the power is either in a bag on my back or on a light stand.

So now that I'm handholding my flash and constantly moving around with it, I wanted to find a way to adjust the power of it quickly and easily to accommodate the movement. TTL was literally designed with this problem in mind so I wanted to see if firstly it would even work and secondly, what its limitations were.

1. Power pack not in my hands. 2. Remote head (flash tube on a cable). 3. Handheld ring flash modifier.

 

For the TTL in this flash head to work, there are a couple of things you need to ensure are setup and in place before you begin.

Firstly you'll need to make sure you have a flash trigger capable of firing the flash in TTL mode. The one I used here is the ST-III TTL-T but there are other newer versions I think now too. It's worth bearing in mind that you'll likely need a trigger specific to your camera brand too. For example there is a Canon version and a Nikon version etc. If this is not correct, then somebody please let me know and I'll make an edit to reflect that.

Secondly you'll need to set your trigger to TTL mode. On mine I simply hit 'mode' until the trigger displayed TTL. Simple as that.

Step 1. Grab your trigger. Step 2. Set it to TTL. Congrats, you're done!


Lastly, (and this is more specific to Nikon shooters only as I dont think other camera users have to worry about this from what I've heard) we have to set our camera to enable High Speed Sync. I wont go into detail on HSS here but essentially TTL will work without adjusting this, but only on shutter speeds below 1/250th. If we want to use TTL on shutter speeds above 1/250th of second then it's worth making this quick and simple adjustment in the menu. To my knowledge there is no downside to having it enabled (probably why it's already standard on other cameras) so I recommend doing it and then leaving it set.

Click to enlarge  Nikon Shooters 1. Go to the 'Custom Setting Menu'. 2. Select 'Bracketing Flash'. 3. Select 'Flash Sync Speed'. 4. Select one of the Auto FP modes. I selected '1/250 (Auto FP)' on mine.

Once you've done all that you're ready to use TTL flash and in all honesty, it was far simpler to set up and use than I thought it would be. Just set the trigger to TTL and you're off. That's my kind of feature :D

 

The Results
The resulting images below are from a series of tests that I did whilst using the Citi600 TTL with a Nikon D610 and a 24-70 f2.8 lens.

 

Test 1: Aperture control - White Background

The test below was taken against a white wall with a simple 22" beauty dish on a stand. The light and the model did not move and the shutter speed and ISO was not adjusted. Here's the resulting images.

/

As expected the TTL keeps the exposure fairly consistent throughout the range of apertures. As you'll start to see throughout this test, TTL seems to struggle at the lower exposure values. For example the f2.8 shot always seemed underexposed no matter how many subsequent shots I took.


Test 2: Aperture control - Black Background

The test below was taken against a black sheet of velvet with a simple 22" beauty dish on a stand. The light and the model did not move and the shutter speed and ISO was not adjusted. Here's the resulting images.

Again the TTL keeps pace with the aperture adjustments but it did seem to fluctuate a little more in this setup compared to a white background. Take a look at f5.6 compared to the others. Again, f2.8 was a little under exposed.

 

Test 3: Exposure Compensation

The following test simply demonstrates how much the image exposure can be adjusted through the exposure compensation function on your camera

Exposure compensation usually appears on cameras in the form of a plus and minus symbol (+/-). Pressing this and adjusting the value is how you affect the exposure of the TTL flash.

The exposure compensation tool is pretty powerful. My camera goes to 5 stops over and under (10 stops in total) which is a significant amount of extra control when you consider how much just the two stops either way does here. The adjustments are made in 1/3 stops increments too so it gives you a lot of control between each stop if required.

It's worth noting that the actual flash head gives you this exposure control too. I tested it and it performs just like it does here. I cite it as less relevant though as exposure control on the head negates the need for TTL in the first place. If you can adjust exposure on the head then you probably don't need TTL but it's a good feature to have and not use over a feature you don't have but want.

 

Test 4: TTL and HSS

In this next test I adjusted the shutter speed in varying amounts to see how the TTL coped when being used in conjunction with High Speed Sync.

Same criteria again but this time against the black velvet. All images taken at f5.6, ISO 100.

The resulting images showed remarkable consistency throughout the shutter speed range and this test showed only minor deviation, consistent with the f-number black background test.

 

 

Test 5: Breaking TTL

Lastly I wanted to work out the limitations of TTL and after playing around with all the exposure evaluating functions on my camera I saw little to no difference. So I decided to heavily weight the darks and lights in a frame to see how TTL coped.

I tried adjusting how my camera coped with evaluating exposure to see if it had any bearing on the TTL but it didnt seem too. I tried point focus exposure and the broader area exposure controls but the same correctly exposed image resulted no matter the setting. In the above images however you can see that when composing your subject off to one side, there is a confusion as to what you're trying to photograph and TTL struggles to correctly expose the shot. It would seem that TTL is heavily influenced by exactly what is in the centre of frame. In the landscape dark background shot you can see the TTL clearly trying to expose for the background in centre frame behind the model.

This scenario of a very dark background off centre like this is certainly worth bearing in mind if you're planning on using TTL in dark room but want to recompose your shot to accommodate the rule of thirds for example.

 

Test 6: Run & Gun

Lastly I wanted to test the original use that I had in mind for TTL and that was to get the flash away from the camera, in my hand and move around with it and shoot a few frames in a 'run & gun' scenario.

I had the Citi600TTL in an old camera bag over my shoulder, the remote head with modifier in one hand and the camera in the other hand. Thanks to the model Jaye for getting kitted-out for this shot :D

I had the remote flash head attached to the flash head and I had the battery pack and flash head in a camera bag over my shoulder. I was holding the flash and modifier in one hand and the camera in the other as I tested different positions and distances.

 

Handheld Beauty Dish

The first test saw me try out a hand held collapsable beauty dish which is very light and easily holdable in one hand.

No big surprises here and no matter the distance or angle the TTL worked as expected. It is noticeable to see it struggle  a little close-up though and that may be due to the flash simply not being able to lower its power any further.

 

Handheld RingFlash Adapter

The next test saw me shooting through a ring flash adapter. It's called an adapter as it doesn't have its own bulb, it simply redirects the light around itself on the inside. The benefit of this is that it's incredibly light and easy to hold in one hand whilst I shoot with the camera in the other hand.

Again, TTL delivered admirable results and as to be expected. Once more though, it struggled up close leaving me to assume that this was the lowest power the flash would fire at. If I was to employ this lighting again I would either raise my aperture or my shutter speed so that the flash had more range to lower its power output.

 

Final Verdict

Pros:

I think overall that TTL is an exciting feature that has a lot of potential uses. As a studio shooter I'm not going to be using TTL all the time but I do think that the addition of the remote head and lightweight modifiers like the ring flash opens up a lot of new creative opportunities for me. I could see this remote head feature being used on location a lot. For example, this would be an amazing way of shooting some fashion images in a busy city. You could easily follow a model and shoot with a hand held beauty dish in one hand and a camera in the other. This could create some fantastic results and it would only need yourself to achieve them, no team of assistants to hold and manage lighting. This run & gun style of shooting could easily produce some excellent projects and I'd certain be interested in playing with this feature further.

 

Limitations:

Although I was surprised at how consistent TTL was there are a few areas to be mindful of. Firstly, you need to remember that TTL is only as good as your camera. I was shooting these on an old Nikon D610 but your camera may not produce the same results. I had mentioned I was running these TTL tests online and I received a few comments from people saying that their experience with TTL produced wildly varying results. One issue being that the pre-flash was so slow that their model constantly had their eyes closed in the resulting images. There are going to mixed results based on your system but for me personally, I had none of these issues present themselves thankfully.

Maybe it was just my system but everything I shot at f2.8 was underexposed slightly and I'm not sure why. It could even be as simple as the lens at f2.8 being inconsistent so I would need to test it with other lenses to be sure.

Also I noticed that the TTL struggled when I (and the flash) was quite close to the subject. I think this was simply down to the fact that the flash couldn't turn its power down any lower with the settings I had in place. In the future I'll try to choose a higher shutter speed or aperture to counteract this problem.

The final area to be mindful of is when your background is very dark and you have your subject away from the centre of frame. In my tests it seemed that no matter what I did, TTL was heavily weighted to correctly exposing the centre area of frame. If your subject is to the left or right of that and the centre is very dark, you may experience over exposing issues.

 

Overall:

TTL has came a long way indeed and I think it offers up new creative possibilities that simply weren't viable before. Sure there are a few fluctuations in exposure but I would consider them minimal and there was very few instances where the resulting image was not usable after a little tweak in post production. I'm certainly looking forward to playing with this TTL functionality further.

 

PixaPro Citi 600TTL
If youre interested in checking out the products I spoke about in this article then the PixaPro (Godox) Citi600TTL is available here in the U.K. from Essential Photo.

There are several PixaPro heads available but the one used in my test was the Citi600 TTL.

This is one of the triggers that is compatible with the Citi600 TTL and it's the PixaPro ST-III TTL-T

I also used the Remote Head in conjunction with these too.


Money Off
Essential Photo currently have a bundle available for all three of the above products and if you buy the Citi600 TTL flash head you'll get the TTL trigger and the remote head for FREE! Citi600TTL bundle

Also, if that wasn't cool enough, they've given me a discout code to share with you guys too!

If you use HICK5-OFF (that S is actually the number five) at checkout then you'll also get an additional 5% off that sale price too :) That code works on anything on their site too :D

 

 

Credit: Jake Hicks  Website: http://jakehicksphotography.com/latest/2017/11/13/what-is-ttl-and-is-it-any-good-on-the-godoxpixapro-citi-600ttl


Posted in: PiXAPRO Reviews

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<![CDATA[Continuous Lighting vs Flash!]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-continuous-lighting-rather-than-flash https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-continuous-lighting-rather-than-flash Wed, 01 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT The advantages of replacing your studio flash kit, with continuous lighting is that what you see is what you get. What you see in front of you is what your final photo will look like, whereas with flash lighting, you have to take a photo to see what your final result would look like. Continuous lighting will also allow you to shoot video, as well as stills. Continuous lighting also enables you to shoot at wider apertures for that shallow depth of field look which is sometimes difficult to achieve with studio flash due to its higher light output.

The disadvantages of replacing your studio flash kit with continuous lighting, is that it is more difficult to freeze motion in your photographs. To freeze motion with continuous lighting, you will have to use a faster shutter speed, meaning that you will either have to open up our aperture, or increase you ISO to compensate for the faster shutter speed, whereas with flash lighting, you can use the duration of the flash to freeze motion.

 

One of our popular continuous lights would be our LED100D MKII, which is a bright daylight balanced LED light with a Bowens S-Type Mount, this enables you to use a wide range of modifiers. The LED100D MKII is great most for portraits and product photography. Another great option is our Glowpad450 is a slim-profiled LED panel, which produces a broad diffused light source without the need for a softbox, ideal for baby photography.

Click the images below for more information on these.

 

LED100D MKII Video Light

 

GLOWPAD450 Video Light

Posted in: PiXAPRO Tips

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<![CDATA[Supporting Your Off-Camera Flash – Tripods, Monopods or Light Stands? (PIXAPRO C-Stand)]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/supporting-your-off-camera-flash-tripods-monopods-or-light-stands-pixapro-c-stand https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/supporting-your-off-camera-flash-tripods-monopods-or-light-stands-pixapro-c-stand Tue, 31 Oct 2017 00:00:00 GMT I’ve generally been a natural light photographer. I understand natural light and love its variability. Normally it’s enough to get some beautiful photographs; many photographers stop here and go no further.

Constantly critical of my own photographs, I realized that I was at the mercy of natural light, searching and modifying, but rarely creating or directing. That’s why I chose to learn how to use flash those years ago. To get full control, it’s essential to put the flashes where you want them, and for this, you need to support them. This article will talk about the options available to you for holding your speedlights and off-camera flash.

Off-camera flash

Human Light Stands

Using a human light stand is one of the easiest ways to support an off-camera flash and is often overlooked. If you can get someone to hold your flash, you get what’s effectively a voice activated light stand (VAL). It’s easier to change lighting setups this way, especially if your subject is moving. There’s also less hassle on windy days. That said, most people won’t know how to position the lighting modifier and it will tend to drift as you’re shooting. Another photographer or an experienced photography assistant will be very useful.

Handheld

Hand holding is quite simply, having either you, or an assistant hold the flash. It’s perfectly possible to do this yourself if you feel comfortable taking pictures with one hand, and it gives you a lot of control. Or hand the flash to someone else and let them know where to point it.

Monopod Boom

Again, you can do this yourself, and it helps if you have the monopod touching the ground because it means that your arm doesn’t feel as tired while holding a larger softbox or beauty dish. Or your photography assistant (or family member, friend, or passer-by) can boom, or hold the flash up, to light your subject from a higher angle. This gives you a lot of control and if you look at photographers like Annie Leibovitz and Joey L, you’ll see that their assistants are often using this approach.

It can be heavy so make sure you pause for breaks. I use a long aluminium Benro monopod that allows me to attach a flash to either end. It’s cheaper than the Gitzo alternative, but do bear in mind that there seems to be no after-sales support. Carbon-fibre is lighter, but not essential.

Off-camera flash

Tripods

I’ve been using my tripods to support my off-camera flashes for a long time. First because I already have them, and secondly because they are perfect for uneven ground. Generally they don’t get the flash high enough, but they are stable, especially if you weight them down by hanging a heavy camera bag from the center column.

Small, Lightweight Tripod

This is my go-to option when I’m travelling light and won’t have an assistant. The idea is that the tripod is so small and light, that I can wear it on my belt and largely forget about it. Of course it doubles as a tripod, which I’d normally want to have with me anyway. It’s flimsy by itself and needs to be weighted down with a camera bag. It’s also far too small for most purposes, so it needs to be up on tables and so, to get more height. But you’re more likely to actually carry it, so that’s a good thing. I use a 1kg Sirui tripod that I’m pretty happy with, especially for the price, with an equally small and light ball-head.

Big, Heavy Tripod

As I began to use larger lighting modifiers, like huge octoboxes and parabolic umbrellas, I needed a heftier support for them. I happened to have an enormous old tripod which has been excellent. It weighs a lot by itself, and is definitely bulky, but is easily carried with its broad shoulder strap. It’s perfect for uneven ground, and can be made more stable by hanging the camera bag from it. I use one of Manfrotto’s largest tripods which gets the flash over my head (I’m 6’2″). It’s old, and very durable.

Proper Light Stands

And then there are dedicated light stands, designed for the purpose of supporting off-camera flashes. I started using these when I wanted to get the flashes higher above the subjects. Some are light and flimsy, and others heavy and stable. Some stack together, and others are designed precisely for travel. They seem to break regularly in transit, or just being used on set. They do get the flashes high off the ground, but they don’t seem particularly stable because they’re tricky to weight down with the camera bag, and as soon as the ground is uneven, they’re a pain to use and won’t work on a steep slope.

Supporting Larger Flash Modifiers

Light Stands

These come in several shapes and sizes. Generally all the legs open at the same angle so they only work on fairly flat ground. Smaller light stands meant for travelling are a good solution, though they can be flimsy. Larger light stands can get the flash very high off the camera. Balanced properly, they can be used with a boom pole to get the flash over your subject.

C (entury) Stand

My most recent acquisition, and now my go-to light stand unless I’m travelling light, is the C-Stand or Century Stand. It’s an old design from Hollywood film studios, and very well engineered. It weighs a lot which is inconvenient if you’re walking to your shooting location, but helpful because it means the stand is more stable in use. The legs are also made so that it’s very easy to weight them down using sand bags. I personally use a lead diving weight belt for ballast. Importantly, one of the legs can move along the central column, which means that you can use the stand on uneven ground and on stairs. It’s not quite as versatile on uneven ground as the huge tripod, but it’s much taller; up to 3 meters (9.8 feet). It’s cumbersome to pack because it’s an L-shape, but when it’s on location, it’s perfect. The included boom is very useful, and can handle hanging backdrops too. I use the C-Stand from Pixapro which is well made enough to outlast me. It’s designed to make it a pleasure to use. Though not a pleasure to carry!

You can see the various light modifiers in the video below, as well as see them used on location.

Posted in: PiXAPRO Reviews

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<![CDATA[Medusa Inspired Photo-shoot (with PIXAPRO LUMI 400 and Modifiers)]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/medusa-inspired-photo-shoot-with-pixapro-lumi-400-and-modifiers https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/medusa-inspired-photo-shoot-with-pixapro-lumi-400-and-modifiers Mon, 30 Oct 2017 00:00:00 GMT  

 

The PHOTOSHOOT team decided to do something around the Medusa theme, so Mike and Jane (our photographers) got started straight away on making the headpiece (link to our blog). Misty Couture came on board and made us a bespoke corset and along with a few of our own accessories, we had our look.

Tirry Jane was our fantastic model, who really got into the part with her scary looks. Charley Payne, our makeup artist, used her creative skills to produce Tirry’s ‘snake’ look.

We worked with three main sets; black, grey and an orange mottled backdrop. The lighting setup remained for all three sets. We used one strip box as the main light to the left of the model and a beauty dish as a fill, high up, facing down to the right at 45 degrees to her. Both lights had a grid fitted. The only additional light was used on the third set, which had a gridded snoot fitted and positioned at ground level, pointing towards the model’s face, as the snakes on her headdress were causing a shadow to fall over the left eye. We used two or threePixaPro 400 watt lightingBeauty Dish with GridStrip Light with Grid and Snoot with Grid. Jane also used orange gels and a gold reflector. Two black light boards were used to control the light bouncing around on this set.

Mike’s camera settings and equipment: Aperture f/7.1, Speed 1/125, ISO 100. Equipment:Canon 6D with a Canon 24-105mm IS f4 lens.

Jane’s camera settings and equipment: Aperture f8.0, Speed 1/125-200 (depending) ISO160. Equipment: Nikon 610 with a Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Have a look at our behind-the-scenes video

 

 

Makeup Artist: Charley Payne http://www.charleypayne.co.uk

Model: Tirry Jane www.facebook.com/TirryJane

Venue: Creativus Imago Photography Studio

Styling: Jan Davidson, Jane Kelly & Mike Hardley

Corset: Misty Couture www.mistycouture.co.uk

Photography: Mike Hardley: www.creativusimago.com & Jane Kelly:www.janekellyphotography.co.uk

Posted in: PIXAPRO Behind The Scene

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<![CDATA[Pixapro CITI600 TTL on location]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/pixapro-citi600-ttl-on-location https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/pixapro-citi600-ttl-on-location Fri, 20 Oct 2017 00:00:00 GMT The first time I took my Pixapro CITI600 TTL portable battery flash on location, in typical English fashion the sun disappeared behind cloud and rain so I didn’t bother testing the high-speed sync facility as planned.


This Ed Nugent; Ed is one of life’s nice guys, a nurseryman, grower & plantsman who’s worked with plants since leaving school, including exhibiting at the internationally renowned Chelsea Flower Show in London. He and his wife Josie have just established a new plant nurseryGarden Sage not too far from the studio I work from in Burgess Hill. I popped in to a) see what was in offer & b) buy some herbs plants - as you do, we got talking as Ed was on hand to welcome the customers, a great touch and testament to his desire for the nursery to succeed. He even agreed to be photographed for my Sussex Photographer blog!

As I said at the beginning, they day became very grey thick cloud & rain making for a a very cool look to the images which didn’t really give the look I wanted. To compensate for this I added ½ CTB (Colour Temperature Blue) gel - LEE Filters 202 ½ CT Blue, took a grey balance reference close to Ed’s face to correct in post-processing. This gave me the warmer background area not lit by the flash.


 

The Pixapro CITI600 TTL battery mono bloc flash head was mounted to a 20" sliding leg Kupo Grip C-stand with a 40" boom - I find this a very stable & versatile configuration for most lights from Speedlites through to bulky mains powered studio heads. It’s essential to remember that when rigging any light stand that one of the legs MUST bender the load of the light & boom for optimum stability.

The soft box is the Pixapro 60cm portable beauty dish (silver inside) with the front diffuser in place, but not the inner deflector. This modifier has a recessed diffuser panel allowing a egg crate grid (supplied) to add more direction & less spill to the light.

As this is a TTL unit I used the TTL facility in conjunction with the Pixapro ST-III T (Canon) trigger. My camera was set to Av with -⅔ stop exposure compensation dialled in. The flash was set to TTL via the trigger & an initial exposure compensation of -1 dialled in (this was established with a number of controlled Fred Tests prior to use). When using the CITI600 you’ll notice that any exposure compensation does not appear on the head display; this doesn’t mean the flash doesn’t recognise the trigger commands, it’s just the head is designed to work with both Canon & Nikon camera systems. This may or may not change with future firmware upgrades.

The first frame was a bit hot (over-exposed) so I dialled in -2 stops exposure compensation on the ST-IIIT trigger and was ready to go. The light was not that challenging so for the short duration of the shoot I didn’t need to change this.

 

Given the ambient light conditions, camera Av TTL exposure was ISO 160, ƒ/4, 1/160th sec.

The

Pixapro CITI600 TTL

 is a welcome addition to my portable lighting gear as it fits nicely when I need a wide aperture ƒ/stop for shallow depth of field (DoF) effects which with conventional portable battery flash are not possible without the use of a camera lens 0.9 solid ND filter which darkens the view finder & reduces the exposure overall requiring more flash power. I will have Speedlites in my kit, which on average are 80w/s compared to the mighty 600w/s of the CITI600 at full power:)

During a controlled location Fred Test I’ve achieved with a

45º deep long focus reflector

in place (honeycomb grid not fitted), ƒ/22 at 4m (13ft) in bright sunlight, Manual 1/1, camera ISO 100, 1/50th sec.

The Pixapro CITI600 TTL is also available in a

non-TTL version

.

Pixapro CITI600 TTL Key Features:

  • TTL auto exposure Canon & Nikon with appropriate trigger, variable over a ±3 stop range in ⅓ stop increments.
  • Manual from 1/1 to 1/256th power - a firmware upgrade is required for the ST-III T rigger at the time of writing as the trigger only goes to 1/128th power. Be aware that the firmware upgrade is only PC, not Mac for now and the download page is in Chinese.
  • Multi stroboscopic flash with variable frequency.
  • 32 channels and 5 groups.
  • 10w CoB LED modelling light with three power levels.


Of special interest to some will be the flash tube which is user replaceable and has a protective glass cover - reducing the risk of damage or electric shock from an exposed flash tube.
The design of the flash tube projects as well as radiating light improving efficiency with most Pixapro reflectors and modifiers - Speedlites and the Profoto B1 & B2 have concealed flash tubes very much like a Speedlite so only project light! The LED modelling light is positioned to project light through the flash tube and gives a surprisingly accurate preview.
Very soon a remote lead will be available for the head which means the power supply & flash head will be separate, very much like the Elinchrom Quadra system - one of the reasons which attracted me to the system originally was low mass on the top of a light stand when on location outside.
Also, not the construction of the 60cm portable beauty dish, very durable and not dissimilar to the Elinchrom Rotalite range of flash modifiers.
The instruction manual is clear & concise. These days a paper manual is a bonus as much of the time manuals and user guides are PDF download for DIY printing.

I highly recommend the Pixapro brand products available from https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk - Yang Wu and the team offer a superb level of customer service (yes, I have experienced it) both on the telephone and by the website Live Chat!

That’s it for now and don’t forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.


Posted in: PIXAPRO Behind The Scene

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<![CDATA[Pixapro ST-III TTL Wireless Flash Trigger]]> https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/pixapro-st-iii-ttl-wireless-flash-trigger https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/blog/post/pixapro-st-iii-ttl-wireless-flash-trigger Wed, 18 Oct 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Pixapro ST-III TTL Transmitter & Receiver for Canon DSLR cameras


I conducted my initial test of the Pixapro ST-III T (Canon) with a Canon 580EXII Speedlite. For now the triggers are only available for Canon or Nikon. I’m informed that Sony compatible units will be available later in 2016.
First impressions. The build quality and layout of controls is good, although the CH (Channel Select), GR (Group Setting) & MODE (Mode Selection) buttons would benefit from white fill to the recessed letters (see photograph). The backlit LCD display is clear and once I became familiar with the button sequences changing channels and moving between modes is straight forward.
Camera Trigger ST-III TTL-T CanonButtons:TEST - press to see if flash fires, also to trigger remote camera with supplied lead.Select Dial -  Changes flash power, moves between groups and modes.CH - Changes channel 1-32 and adjusts custom functions.GR - Selects group A-C and confirms settings.MODE - Moves groups between modes.
It should be noted that the flash group to be adjusted needs to be in the centre of the screen next to the white dot on the left of the backlit LCD panel.

 

The flash group to be adjusted needs to be in the centre of the screen next to the white dot on the left


When set to Manual Mode the flash power may be adjusted from 1/128 to 1/1 power in 1/3 stop increments. In TTL Auto mode exposure may be compensated between ±3 in 1/3 stop increments. I don’t know if this is a feature or an anomaly, but when set to Manual mode the power settings are mirrored on the flash LCD display, but not when in TTL. Apparently this is a feature of the Pixapro CITI600 (Godox AD600) as the flash is multi camera system compatible.
In TTL mode the ST-III trigger doesn’t need switching between normal & HS Flash mode it does it automatically. On my flash I have to switch to HS Sync and the trigger recognises this.
Wireless range is stated as >100m which will be line of sight with no obstacles. Indoors, depending upon conditions, less.
There is an AF beam assist for those times when light levels are low or contrast insufficient for cameras to focus.
Flash/Speedlite Receiver ST-III TTL-R CanonButtons:TEST - Fires all functioning flashes with compatible receivers in place.CH - Changes channel 1-32.GR - Selects group A-E.
Both units have a Micro USB socket for firmware upgrades - which at the time of writing only seem available in Chinese and MS Windoze OS. Nothing for Mac users. The transmitter also has a PC socket which will allow older studio flash etc to be used triggered but not controlled remotely.
I’ve tested Pixapro ST-III TTL Wireless Flash Trigger/Receiver set with the following:
Pixapro CITI600 TTL - total remote controlYong Nuo 565 EXII - TTL, Manual remote power setting, no HSCanon 580 EXII - total remote controlCanon 550 EX - Manual only, no HS or TTLElinchrom Ranger Quadra - trigger onlyElinchrom BXRi - trigger onlyElinchrom EL500 - trigger onlyMultiblitz Profilux 200 - trigger only. 

 

This means is you can mix differing makes & types of studio flash & speedlites with ease. A selection of adaptor leads are supplied, including a lead to use the trigger/receiver as a remote camera trigger.
THE trigger & receiver are both powered by AA cells, not supplied.
The instruction manual is clear & concise, although if you’re like me the type is of a size where reading glasses will be necessary! These days a paper manual is a bonus as much of the time manuals and user guides are PDF download for DIY printing.
I highly recommend the Pixapro brand products available from https://www.essentialphoto.co.uk - Yang Wu and the team offer a superb level of customer service (yes, I have experienced it) both on the telephone and by the website Live Chat!
If you’re based in UK Yang and the Essential Photo team will be at The Photography Show 19-22 March 2016, stand E91
That’s it for now and don’t forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.

Posted in: PiXAPRO Reviews

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