interfit

What does that modifier look like?

I had a few spare minutes yesterday (New Year’s Eve), so invited a friend and her daughter over to make some photographs with a variety of light modifiers. Here are the results of the 28 configurations we tested.

All photos lit with an Interfit Photographic Honey Badger strobe head. All photos metered to f/6.3. Subject seated about 2 feet in front of white seamless paper. All lit with the single light with no reflectors or fill light. Camera was set to “daylight” white balance (yes there is that big a difference in skin tone between them) and the only post-processing on the images was to crop them to a square.

Here is the list of modifiers used and some notes:

  • Interfit 48-inch deep parabolic softbox with both diffusers in place

  • Interfit 48-inch deep parabolic softbox with only the inner diffuser

  • Interfit 48-inch deep parabolic softbox with no diffusers (open face)

  • Interfit 48-inch deep parabolic softbox with 20-inch black foam-core disk blocking the middle of the light (looks like a ring light)*

  • Neewer 36-inch parabolic softbox with CheetahStand focusing rod with the flash head pulled all the way in to the softbox

  • Neewer 36-inch parabolic softbox with CheetahStand focusing rod with the flash extended to the opening of the softbox

  • Neewer 36-inch parabolic softbox with CheetahStand focusing rod with the flash extended to the opening of the softbox and a 20-inch black foamcore disk blocking out the middle of the light*

  • SPSystems 28-inch folding octabox with both diffusers in place Light boomed over camera on axis with lens

  • SPSystems 28-inch folding octabox with only the inner diffuser

  • 22-inch Speedotron beauty dish centered over the camera with diffusion sock

  • 22-inch Speedotron beauty dish without the sock

  • 20-inch metal dish reflector centered over the camera

  • 20-inch metal dish reflector with a diffusion sock on it

  • Interfit Deep Zoom reflector at camera left

  • Interfit Deep Zoom reflector with its diffusion sock

  • Interfit Deep Zoom reflector with 10-degree grid

  • Interfit Deep Zoom reflector with 10-degree grid and diffuser to show that the diffuser negates the effect of the grid

  • 7-inch metal dish reflector

  • 7-inch metal dish reflector with one sheet of #261 diffusion

  • 7-inch metal dish reflector with two sheets of #261 diffusion

  • 7-inch metal dish reflector with 10-degree grid

  • Interfit 2x3-foot softbox pointed directly at the subjects

  • Interfit 2x3-foot softbox feathered in front of the subjects

  • Interfit 2x2-foot collapsible softbox (which comes with the Honey Badger and has a recessed front panel)

  • 2x2 softbox with a flat front (old and apparently yellowed with age)

  • Interfit 65-inch** Silver Parabolic umbrella with the head pushed almost all the way into the umbrella

  • Interfit 65-inch** Silver Parabolic umbrella with the head pushed in (focused) and a 20-inch black foam-core disk blocking the center of the light

  • Interfit 65-inch** Silver Parabolic umbrella with the head mounted on a separate light stand about 5-feet in front of the umbrella

    * see the photo below
    **measured across the opening, other companies call this a 7-foot or an 84-inch as they measure around the back arc of the umbrella

The black foam-core disk was used in an attempt to make the lights act something like a defocused Broncolor Para. The sliding focusing arm in the 36-inch para was for the same reason. But looking at the photos, I think that I like the big 48-inch Interfit Parabolic Softbox in any of its configurations (2 diffusers, inner diffuser, no diffuser).

Some photos for clarification

Strobe head mounted on a separate stand 5 feet in front of the Interfit 65-inch Silver Parabolic Umbrella

Strobe head mounted on a separate stand 5 feet in front of the Interfit 65-inch Silver Parabolic Umbrella

Black foam-core disk blocking the center of the deep parabolic softbox

Black foam-core disk blocking the center of the deep parabolic softbox

Cheetah “Chopstick” lets you position the flash head inside the softbox, sliding it closer to or farther from the back of the softbox to focus the light

Cheetah “Chopstick” lets you position the flash head inside the softbox, sliding it closer to or farther from the back of the softbox to focus the light

The Interfit Line of Studio Flash Units

High quality, good customer service, reasonable prices

The Honey Badger and the Badger Unleashed

The Honey Badger and the Badger Unleashed

This blog contains affiliate links. If you purchase items directly from Interfit Photographic USA using my discount code, cornicello10, I will be compensated for the referral.

I was first introduced to the Interfit line of lighting gear at WPPI in 2017. I visited their booth to find out more about the LED panels they were distributing at the time. I was impressed with the people I met and came away from the meeting more interested in their studio strobes, which I hadn’t been very familiar with before. I kept in contact with Interfit over the next few months and signed on as one of their Creative Pros in June of 2017.

Along with the quality of their products, I was impressed that they have US-based operations in California and Georgia and that I was able to meet their staff not only at large shows like WPPI, but also at regional events. Their CEO and lead engineer both attended Glazer’s Camera PhotoFest in Seattle, for example. While I have not had a reason to contact their customer service department, I have heard a number of good stories from satisfied customers.

I started my relationship with a pair of S1 strobes. In August of 2017 Interfit released their Honey Badger line of strobes. I added those to my studio along with some of their modifiers. In early 2018 they introduced a line called Studio Essentials that included a 200Ws Value Flash head and an LED monolight. Their latest release is the Badger Unleashed battery powered strobe heads. 

Here is an overview of each of their studio strobe offerings.

FLASH HEADS

Interfit S1 battery or A/C powered strobe

Interfit S1 battery or A/C powered strobe

clean, clear, easy to use controls on the Interfit S1

clean, clear, easy to use controls on the Interfit S1

S1 - Interfit’s most powerful strobe at 500 watt-seconds. It uses S-mount accessories (as do all of their strobes). It has a built-in handle to help adjust the angle of the light on a light stand. It is battery-powered with the option of plugging it into an a/c wall socket. Controls on the back are clearly labeled and easy to use. This flash offers high speed sync (HSS) and TTL exposure control when used with their dedicated Canon, Nikon, or Sony remote triggers (the receiver is built into the strobe head). The S1 uses IGBT technology to offer very short flash durations at the lower end of the power range. The modeling lamp is a 10-watt LED, which is equivalent to around a 60-watt incandescent bulb. The low wattage helps make the battery last longer. There is a glass diffuser dome covering the flash tube and modeling lamp for protection and for even light spread inside of the light modifiers you use with the flash.


Interfit Honey Badger studio strobe

Interfit Honey Badger studio strobe

Control panel on the Honey Badger

Control panel on the Honey Badger

Honey Badger - The bright yellow strobe offers 320 watt-seconds of power and has a 60-watt daylight color balanced LED modeling lamp that is as bright as a 300-watt incandescent lamp. As it is an LED, it does not get hot, so no burnt fingers changing modifiers as you would with other strobes with incandescent modeling lamps. In addition to the standard S-mount for modifiers, the Honey Badger also accepts pop-up modifiers and comes standard with a 24-inch square softbox. This strobe is all manual and has a very fast recycle time. It is compatible with the dedicated remotes and the generic remote that works with just about any camera with a hot shoe. Controls are clearly marked and easy to use. A radio trigger receiver is built in. There is a glass diffuser dome covering the flash tube and modeling lamp for protection and for even light spread inside of the light modifiers you use with the flash. The Honey Badger is my go-to light for most studio situations.


Interfit Badger Unleashed battery powered studio and location strobe

Interfit Badger Unleashed battery powered studio and location strobe

Control panel on the Badger Unleashed

Control panel on the Badger Unleashed

Badger Unleashed - This is the new cousin of the Honey Badger, though it is also a mini-S1. It is 250 watt-seconds (which is only one stop less than the S1, or power level 9 out of 10) with a 15-watt LED modeling lamp. Like the Honey Badger, it offers S-Mount and pop-up modifier compatibility. The Badger Unleashed is IGBT controlled and offers high speed sync (HSS) and TTL automatic exposure control with the dedicated remotes for Canon, Nikon, and Sony. It also works in manual mode with the generic remote trigger. The Badger Unleashed has a short flash duration to help freeze motion and recycle time is 1.5 seconds at full power. This light can power down to 1 watt-second for those times you want to work wide open with your fast lenses or just need a little kiss of light to augment your scene. The battery is rated for over 400 full power flashes per charge and recharge time is around 90 minutes. Extra batteries are available, too. There is a glass diffuser dome covering the flash tube and modeling lamp for protection and for even light spread inside of the light modifiers you use with the flash.

The new battery-powered Badger Unleashed from Interfit Photographic is now available. I took one out for its first spin this evening. Check it out here.

Interfit Studio Essentials Value Flash

Interfit Studio Essentials Value Flash

Control panel on the back of the Studio Essentials Value Flash

Control panel on the back of the Studio Essentials Value Flash

Studio Essentials Value Flash - This is a compact and light weight “starter” flash with 200 watt-seconds of power. It has a built-in radio receiver that works with the $20 remote trigger. There are kits available, including the $300 two-light softbox kit which I use to light the Egg Chair as part of my Chair Series photos. This includes 2 strobe heads, two 20x28-inch softboxes, two light stands, a remote trigger, and a carrying case. A similar two-light kit with umbrellas (but no carry case) is only $200. These lights use a 75-watt incandescent modeling lamp and there is a built-in handle to help adjust angles. Operation is all manual with an easy to use control panel on the back of the strobe heads. Recycle time is 2 seconds at full power. Power can be dialed back 5 stops to 12.5 watt-seconds in 1/10th stop increments. Modifiers attach via the built-in S-mount. A very good value for $99.99!


Accessories

The new Nomad portable battery pack is a sine wave inverter with two A/C outlets and a USB charger port. Additional batteries are also available for the Badger Unleashed and S1 lights.

Interfit-nomad-1.jpg
Interfit-nomad-2

MODIFIERS

Another thing that endeared me to Interfit is their collection of high quality and reasonably priced light modifiers, most of which come with a fabric grid included. Here is a list of the modifiers I use regularly. Scroll down for some example photographs.


Example Photographs

Interfit Badger Unleashed with Deep Zoom reflector and 10-degree grid

Interfit Badger Unleashed with Deep Zoom reflector and 10-degree grid

Interfit Badger Unleashed with Deep Zoom reflector and diffusion sock

Interfit Badger Unleashed with Deep Zoom reflector and diffusion sock

Interfit Badger Unleashed with 12x36-inch strip box

Interfit Badger Unleashed with 12x36-inch strip box

Interfit Honey Badger with 48-inch deep parabolic softbox

Interfit Honey Badger with 48-inch deep parabolic softbox

Interfit S1 with 28-inch folding beauty dish

Interfit S1 with 28-inch folding beauty dish

Honey Badger with 24x36-inch softbox

Honey Badger with 24x36-inch softbox

Interfit Studio Essentials Value Flash (two) with 20x28-inch softbox

Interfit Studio Essentials Value Flash (two) with 20x28-inch softbox

Interfit Honey Badger with 65-inch silver parabolic umbrella and diffusion sock

Interfit Honey Badger with 65-inch silver parabolic umbrella and diffusion sock

Badger Unleashed with 7-inch dish reflector

Badger Unleashed with 7-inch dish reflector

Interfit Studio Essentials Value Flash (two) with 20x28-inch softbox

Interfit Studio Essentials Value Flash (two) with 20x28-inch softbox

Honey Badger with 24-inch pop-up softbox

Honey Badger with 24-inch pop-up softbox

Honey Badger with 24-inch pop-up softbox

Honey Badger with 24-inch pop-up softbox

Interfit Badger Unleashed (two) with 36x48-inch softbox from camera left and 12x36-inch strip box at camera position for fill

Interfit Badger Unleashed (two) with 36x48-inch softbox from camera left and 12x36-inch strip box at camera position for fill

Honey Badger with 36x48-inch softbox as the background

Honey Badger with 36x48-inch softbox as the background

There you have it! Since getting into the Interfit line of studio lighting I have been able to retire my Dyna-lite, Speedotron, and Einstein flashes. Let me know if you might be interested in purchasing a Speedotron Force 5 monolight or Speedotron 202VF heads locally in Seattle.

Remember that you can get a 10% discount on any products purchased directly from Interfit USA using the code “cornicello10” at checkout.

Thanks!
John Cornicello











High Speed Sync vs Neutral Density Filters

HSS vs Neutral Density

I was reading online forums again (yeah, I know...)... I saw a discussion where a photographer was trying to figure out exposure settings for outdoor flash vs ambient light using neutral density filters. He was adamant that he did NOT want to use high speed sync (HSS) because HSS robs the flash of a lot of its power.

This got me thinking... Doesn't using ND filters also rob the flash of power? If you put a 6-stop ND filter over the lens you are effectively lowering the power of the flash 6 stops and also lowering the amount of ambient light 6 stops. If you use high speed sync to raise the shutter speed by six stops you lower the ambient light 6 stops. You also lose power in the flash, about the same 6 stops. Seems pretty much equivalent.


NOTE: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and I might be compensated if you purchase equipment using the links. But you will also get a discount by using the link or the code CORNICELLO10 on the Interfit Photographic web site. Win/Win situation!


Testing:
So, time to do some testing. Camera is a Canon 5D mkIII with an 85mm f/1.8 lens. All of the photos were made with the white balance set to Daylight. Flash is an Interfit Photographic S1 with high speed sync capabilities modified with a 24-inch collapsible beauty dish. Ambient light meter reading was 1/125 at f/9 and the flash was a bit brighter (f/13). I wanted to make the photographs at f/1.8. 

I needed about 5 and 2/3 stops of neutral density. I had two 0.9 (3-stop) neutral density filters handy, so I stacked them on top of each other and made the first series of photos below with normal sync. Then I removed the filters and switched the Interfit S1 to high speed sync mode and made a similar set of images above the normal sync speed of the camera. The third set as the Interfit S1 in HSS mode plus TTL metering. All the photos were imported into Adobe Lightroom Classic with no adjustments made to them and then I made the following groups via the Print module. The power level on the strobe was not changed between shots in the first two sets of photos. In the third set the strobe was in TTL mode, so it did vary the power (raising it as the shutter speed increased) to maintain the proper exposure.

While this test isn't super scientific, the things I notice are a definite color cast in the photos made with the ND filter, the ND photos do not appear to be quite as sharp as the HSS photos (a complaint I often hear about variable density ND filters, but these were two single density filters), and the ND filters I used required me to take off the lens shade (something I rarely if ever do) to attach them. The ND filters make it more difficult to see through the viewfinder (6 stops more difficult, I don't want to do the math to figure out how many times darker that is). I could/should have bumped the flash power up a third of a stop or so because of the extra density. The background would have remained the same with the subject being a little bit brighter. But it is what it is. All in all a bit of a pain to work with, but it gets the job done if you have a strobe unit that doesn't do HSS.

In the middle set, using the flash in manual exposure mode with high speed sync. Again, I should have/could have bumped up the power of the flash as I went above 1/3200 sec. on the shutter speed. But the last three are still OK and salvageable. 

The set with the S1 in high speed sync mode and TTL exposure seems to be the winner to me. I was able to adjust the shutter speed to make the trees in the background lighter and darker while at the same time keeping the exposure on the subject pretty consistent. I did not make any adjustments on the flash.

Until fairly recently, I hadn't used HSS or TTL all that much with my flashes. I've been a pretty strict manual mode and in the studio type of photographer. Working with the Interfit S1 strobes has changed my mind about this. What are your thoughts about using neutral density filters to balance flash and daylight versus using high speed sync? 

For those interested in how to figure out the exposure using ND filters, here is how I do it.

  • Take a normal meter reading at 1/125 sec. shutter speed (this gives me leeway to raise the shutter speed slightly to darken the background without going over the sync speed of the camera)
  • Example: ISO 100, 1/125 Sec. at f/11
  • Adjust the output of your flash to read the same f/stop (f/11 in this case) or a bit higher WITHOUT THE ND FILTER (I went for f/13 above)
  • Decide on the aperture you want to use for depth of field. In this case I wanted f/1.8
  • Figure that from f/13 to f/1.8 is 5 and 2/3 stops
  • Find a 5 and 2/3 stop neutral density filter or adjust your aperture to match the ND filter(s) you have. If you have a 3 stop filter you can go from f/11 to f/4, with a 4 stop filter you can go to f/2.8, with a 6 stop filter you can go to f/1.4 (I opted for stacking two 3 stop filters above)
  • Take the photo with the ND filter(s) in place
  • Adjust the shutter speed up/down to darken or lighten the background
  • Adjust the power of the flash up/down to get the proper exposure on the subject
  • Deal with focus and color issues

To figure out the exposure with high speed sync

  • Decide on the aperture you want to use
  • Set the camera to that aperture
  • Make sure your flash is in HSS mode
  • Adjust your shutter speed up/down to darken or lighten the background to how you want it to look
  • Adjust the power of the flash to give proper exposure on the subject or use TTL if available

Do note that HSS on speed lights will run through batteries quicker. The folks at Interfit, though, tell me that the S1 battery actually lasts longer in HSS mode. HSS may also shorten the life of the flash tube. But everything is a tradeoff in photography.

Chasing the elusive spot light

I WANT IT! aka "GAS" (gear acquisition syndrome)

UPDATE: September 2018: I found the Bowens S-mount optical spotlight on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2CVcdCJ (Affiliate link, I will be compensated if you purchase via this link).

UPDATE: March 2019: Here is another one from Ali Express for around $250. I have not seen or tried it yet myself, but the it looks good in the advertisement. It also has the option of an Elinchrom or Profoto mount as well as the Bowens S-mount. I like that it appears to have a helical (twist) focus on the lens. If you get one of these please comment below about it. Thanks!


I've had this lust for a spotlight for some time. I've kept a web alert in place for a Norman TriLite that I could convert to work with a Speedotron pack. I have a Speedotron Shakespeare optical spot light and a Light Blaster (both available for sale). I saw Zack Arias talk about a new device with a zooming fresnel lens and I got one of those (photo of it appears below). And there is the tried and true snoot.

Profoto SpotSmall

Profoto SpotSmall

But the holy grail for me has been for a small optical spotlight. Profoto has one called the Spot Small that sells for around $1,000. Though it comes with a Profoto mount, I found that I could easily replace the mount with a Speedotron or Balcar mount and probably some other mounts. But the price was out of my range for the amount of use I expected to get out of it.

Bowens Universal Spot

Bowens Universal Spot

Elincrhom MiniSpot

Elincrhom MiniSpot

Then I discovered that Bowens had what appeared to be an identical product they called the Bowens Universal Spotlight Attachment. It cost only $575 and I wouldn't have to change out the mount to fit my lights. I considered it for a while, but still couldn't justify the cost--I kept on saving my pennies, though. Then one day I noticed that it went from Available to Backordered and to Special Order over a few days at two of the big online camera stores and that got me worried a bit. Another day or two later things got clearer as word came out that Bowens was shutting down operations. Now it is listed as Discontinued. There went that opportunity.

NOTE: It sounds like Bowens made the Profoto SpotSmall and now that Bowens is in liquidation the Profoto spot is no longer available.

That got me looking again and I found the Elinchrom Mini Spot Projection attachment for $500. But I couldn't find one to see in person to figure out what it would take to change the mount to fit any of my studio lights. And $500 was still a bit pricy for something I knew I wanted but didn't know where or when I was actually going to use it. But it did include a few gobo patterns in the price...

WHAT TO DO???

One day in August I somehow typed in the right combination of words in Google and was taken to the Aliexpress site. There I found an optical spot made in China for around $230 -- and it had a Bowens S-mount that would work with my Interfit lights. That was tempting, but I still kept on procrastinating. Finally, I decided my birthday was coming up in September and I would buy the thing for myself. I typed in all my info and pressed the buy button and my credit card was declined. Got a text from my bank immediately asking if it was really me making this purchase in China. I said yes and they said OK, try it again. I did, but accidentally used the wrong credit card and was again declined. But this time the site came back with a "others who looked at this item also purchased..." list that had the same spotlight from another vendor for $160 including shipping. And while the original vendor said it could take up to 30 days for delivery, this vendor said it would be about a week.

UPDATE: Now available via Amazon at https://amzn.to/2CVcdCJ

Chinese optical spotlight attachment

Chinese optical spotlight attachment

Got out the right credit card, placed the order and waited a day or so for it to process from Alibaba to the vendor. Then I got the shipping notification and I saw it. A typo in my address. I left a number out. The vendor wasn't much help in getting the address corrected, but once it was in the hands of UPS they were able to correct the address (whew!). I watched it track from China to Japan to Alaska, to Kentucky, and finally to Seattle a day earlier than promised.

The item was well packed and arrived in perfect condition. It includes a gobo holder and a few different gobos. It also has a set of 5 plexiglass filters (red, green, amber, yellow, and blue). No instructions are included, but it is a simple device and pretty obvious how to use it. My only "complaint" with the device are that the gobo holder is not standard. It doesn't look like any standard size gobos from various manufacturers will fit in it. They would have to be trimmed down, which is easy to do. As I will be using the spotlight attachment with Interfit strobes which have LED modeling lights that don't get hot, so I can make my own gobos out of black card stock (don't even think about trying this with your 250-watt quartz-halogen modeling lamps) or thin sheets of metal. 

So, does it work? Yes! Here are some images comparing a spot on the background using the optical spotlight, a snoot, a snoot with a grid, and the fresnel device Zack introduced me to. Of those the spot light and the snoot were the most effective for this use. The fresnel just doesn't seem to be tight or narrow enough for what I wanted. Let's go to the photos...

The optical spotlight attachment with 3 sizes of circle gobos and with no gobo

The snoot by itself on the second row (same distance as the optical on the left, moved in closer on the right) and with a grid on the end of the snoot in the third row (again moved in closer on the right)

The NG-10X zoomed out and then in on the second row and moved in closer in the third row

Here are a few more images all made with the optical spot and a variety of gobos and filters.

Gobo patterns and color filters on the optical spotlight on the mannequin and on the background of the selfies (main light on the selfies is a 2x3 Interfit softbox).

barbara-jan2018-27.jpg
barbara-jan2018-12.jpg
barbara-jan2018-21-2.jpg

UPDATE: Added the three images above which were lit with the three lights. The main light is an Interfit Honey Badger with the Chinese optical spotlight. The kicker light is another Honey Badger with a 7-inch metal dish reflector and a red gel. The spot on the background is an S1 with a snoot and a yellow gel. I also joined Interfit as one of their Creative Pros and you can get a 10% discount on purchases directly from Interfit by using the code CORNICELLO10 (all caps) on the checkout page.

Now to figure out how I am going to integrate the spot light into more of my projects. Do you have GAS? What photo gear are you lusting after? Let me know in the comments below.

And, did I mention the LED modeling lights in the Interfit S1 and Honey Badger strobes? No more burnt fingers or overheating when using enclosed attachments like snoots with the modeling lights turned on. 

 

LED Modeling Lights In Studio Flash

It's not about the watts!

With the announcement of the new Honey Badger studio flash from Interfit Photographic I've seen some comments about the brightness of the modeling light in these flash units. I think the confusion comes from using the term watts to describe the lights. Watts is a measurement of energy used and doesn't tell us anything about the brightness of the light. Please note that this discussion is about the modeling lamps, not about the flash power (which is even more confusing, but watt-seconds is a topic for a different post). I picked the Einstein for comparison because it uses a typical 250-watt modeling lamp and I had one available when I decided to write this. You can substitute just about any other light that uses the same 250-watt bulbs. Paul C. Buff has also recently released a new Alien Bee lamp head that uses an LED modeling lamp that has the same advantages as the Honey Badger.

The Honey Badger and the Einstein

The Honey Badger and the Einstein

LED modeling lamp on the left, quartz modeling lamp on the right

Mr. Heat Miser

In the past, studio strobes have used tungsten modeling lamps that could range from 25 watts to 300 watts or more. Some units use standard household bulbs. Higher end units use quartz halogen lamps. These share some common features. They are on the warm end of the Kelvin scale at around 2500 to 3200 degrees Kelvin (yellowish compared to daylight color). They are also very hot to the touch. I measured the 250-watt quartz modeling lamp on an Einstein flash with a laser thermometer and got a reading of 210 degrees F on the 7" reflector and above the scale on the bulb itself. You don't want to touch the reflector when the bulb is on or for a while after turning it off.

The cool kid on the block

The Honey Badger comes with a 60-watt LED lamp. The key here is LED. LED lights are much more energy efficient. The 60-watt LED puts out as much light, actually a little more, than the 250-watt quartz light.

Daylight balance LED Honey Badger on your left, tungsten balance quartz Einstein on your right. You can see that they are similar in brightness, but the Honey Badger uses 60 watts and remains relatively cool to the touch vs the 250-watt bulb that will burn you if you touch it or the modifier.

Daylight balance LED Honey Badger on your left, tungsten balance quartz Einstein on your right. You can see that they are similar in brightness, but the Honey Badger uses 60 watts and remains relatively cool to the touch vs the 250-watt bulb that will burn you if you touch it or the modifier.

Here are my comparison measurements of the Honey Badger and the Einstein:

Einstein
250-watt quartz halogen modeling lamp
Tungsten white balance
Temperature over 200 degrees F (93.3C)
Modeling lamp metered at 39" (1m) = 1/15 second @ f/6.3 at ISO 100
Flash metered at 10-feet (3m) f/20 (640 watt-seconds)

Honey Badger
60-watt LED modeling lamp
Daylight white balance
Temperature 86 degrees F (30C)
Modeling lamp metered at 39" (1m) = 1/15 @ F/9 at ISO 100 (brighter than the 250 watt  quartz bulb)
Flash metered at 10-feet (3m) f/16 (320 watt-seconds)

Why LED?

Some advantages of the LED technology include the mentioned fact of it being a lot cooler and safer to work with (yes, I have had a small softbox catch on fire from the heat of the modeling lamp). It is easier to change modifiers without getting burned. You don't have to worry about accidentally touching the modeling lamp (even when it is not on) and causing damage to the lamp from the oils on your fingers. You can use the modeling lamp for a longer time period when using modifiers that enclose the light, such as a snoot, barn doors, or grids. You can use the modeling lamp for video without heating up the room. And on the Honey Badger you can turn the flash tube off via a switch on the back to make sure it doesn't accidentally flash when you are doing a video session. The lower overall operating temperature of the unit should help prolong the life of the internal components of the flash.

Get a discount!

If you are interested in purchasing Interfit lighting equipment I urge you to visit your local independently owned camera store who really needs your support. However, if your local dealer cannot get these for you, as an Interfit Creative Pro I can offer you a 10% discount if you order directly from Interfit by using the code CORNICELLO10 (all caps) when you order.  And yes, I do get a small commission if you use this code, thanks!

 

Lighting Workshop Results

Lots of learning going on

Last weekend I presented a program on speed light and flash control at the Olympic Peaks Camera Club. I followed up on that with a 3-hour hands-on workshop on studio lighting on Saturday. I will be presenting a similar workshop at Glazer’s Camera in Seattle in November.
During the second hour of the class the students got to photograph each other using the Interfit S1 battery powered studio lights. I set up two lighting stations for them. One had an S1 head in a 2x3 softbox and the other had an S1 in a 46” Phototek Softlighter II. Each also had a white reflector set up opposite the key light and a background with no light on it.

Photo by James Hagen

One of the students, Jim Hagen, shared a portrait he made of another student, Irv Mortensen. This portrait was made with the S1 in the 2x3 softbox. I asked Jim about his experience in photography in general and more specifically about portraits. His response was, “(I) bought my first DSLR a little under two years ago. Didn't know aperture from my arse. Shot a lot of photos previous but with point and shoot auto. These are the first portraits I've taken. Very excited about how things were set up and the possibities of learning lighting and flash techniques. Certainly off to a running start after Thursday and Saturday!

Photo by Irving Mortensen

Irv then made a portrait of Witta Priester using the same setup. Witta then turned around and made a portrait of me on the other set with the Softlighter and lighter color backdrop.

One of my little "tricks" with the 2x3 softbox is to put strips of thin black masking tape across the front of the diffuser to make it look like window panes in the catch lights on the eyes of my subjects. 

Great job by Jim, Irv, and Witta. I know that many photographers are not comfortable on the other side of the camera. But I feel that if you are going to make portraits you should get used to being in front of the camera. If you don’t have someone around to photograph you, a project of self-portraits can be great experience. 

The Interfit S1 lights are very simple to operate with clearly marked controls and no hidden "secret handshake" button combinations to memorize when adjusting the lights. See the photo of the unit below. 

 

 

Feathering the light and adding a reflector

Photo by Witta Preister

Clean and easy to use control interface

Thank you to Val for inviting me to present. Thanks to Rebecca and John for their great hospitality feeding me and giving me a home base for the weekend. And thanks to everyone who came out for both the meeting and the workshop. I had a great time and look forward to another trip to Sequim, WA with all of its lavender glory.

 

Hummingbirds in Sequim

Let's try something new!

competing hummingbirds

As previously mentioned, I was out in Sequim, WA last week to teach a lighting workshop. I stayed overnight at a friend’s place and about 15 minutes before we had to drive over to the workshop I decided to try to make a photo of some hummingbirds flying around the deck. I grabbed one of my Interfit Photographic S1 battery operated strobes out of its case along with its standard 7” reflector and a light stand. I set it up about 3 feet from the bird feeder and then popped a Canon EOS M5 camera onto a tripod with the 70-200mm f/4 IS L lens and a cable release. In just a few of minutes I captured some photos and then had to quickly pack up and head to the workshop (more on the workshop coming soon). For these the flash was in manual mode with the power dialed down to its lowest setting (2.0). The S1 uses IGBT technology* to control the flash, so dialing down gives the shortest flash duration to help avoid motion blur. The camera was also in manual mode and the settings were ISO 100, Shutter speed 1/160, and aperture f/6.3

No, these aren’t the best hummingbird photos. If I were to do this again I would give myself more than 15 minutes and would use at least 2, possibly three, lights for more dimensionality. I would also set up a backdrop behind the birds (where the third light might be used). Here the backdrop was a stand of dark trees about 60 yards away that went completely black. For this morning I was mostly interested in seeing if the flash could capture the wings of the hummingbirds and I think they did well. 

In lieu of the mediocre photograph, let’s make this a learning experience.

High Speed Sync?
Some might ask why I used normal sync at 1/160 shutter speed instead of putting the flash into High Speed Sync (HSS) mode. In my experience, HSS is great for matching the flash to the ambient light to photograph at larger apertures (f/4 to f/1.2) to get limited depth of field in an outdoor flash photograph (I didn't need that here, I actually wanted a smaller aperture for more depth of field). But it doesn’t help with freezing motion. Here is a series of photos made with a Canon 430EX II speedlite in normal and HSS modes where you can see what happens to the motion using HSS to photograph a spinning fan.

Notice that at normal sync speeds, even as slow as 1/15 second, the flash duration is fast enough to freeze the motion of the spinning fan blades. As long as the room is dark enough, the ambient light won't affect the photo and the short flash duration becomes your effective "shutter speed" even if the shutter is open for a full second or more. When you get into the HSS zone there is a lot of blur, even though the shutter speeds are faster.

How Flash and Shutter Speed Sync

If you are not familiar with High Speed Sync, what it does is pulses the flash rapidly during the exposure to enable it to synchronize with the moving blades of your camera’s shutter. In normal sync mode you press the shutter button, the first curtain of the shutter opens, the flash fires, then the second (rear) curtain closes. When you go above your camera sync speed (which could be anywhere from 1/60 to 1/250 second) the first curtain opens, the second curtain starts to close, then the flash fires.

With the shutter speed set at or below the sync speed

Shutter speed is set higher than the sync speed

flash sync black band

If you are just a step or two above your sync speed you get a dark band across one edge of your photo. At higher speeds the flash doesn’t register at all, as the second curtain starts closing as soon and fast as the first curtain opens. 

High Speed Sync fires a series of lower powered flashes in perfect synchronization with the moving curtains so that the image looks like it was made with one flash.

How flash and shutter speed sync with each other. Click on the image to view it larger.

Downsides to High Speed Sync

The series of flashes, while being great for letting you photograph at wide open apertures, does have some downsides. The most noticeable is the reduction in power output. Normally the strobe fires and needs a second or two for the capacitors to recycle and be ready to fire again. In HSS the flash doesn’t have any time for recycling, so it puts out a series of very low powered flashes. The light usually has to be close to your subject. You will lose a stop of power every time you double the shutter speed above the sync speed. The second downside is that it doesn’t help much with freezing action. Third is that it goes through batteries quicker. And fourth is that over time the rapid flashing can lead to a lower life expectancy of the flash tube. A note on that, though, is that I have some studio flash units here that are close to or even more than 40 years old and the flash tubes are still working on them (but they’ve never been used for HSS, which didn’t exist 40 years ago). 

*IGBT = Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor
Different flash technologies go about controlling power output and flash duration differently. Large studio pack and head systems usually control power by switching banks of capacitors on or off (capacitor switching). Lowering the power on the pack will shorten the flash duration.
Until recently, most monoblock strobes would vary the voltage of the capacitors (voltage lowering) to control power. In these lowering the power leads to longer flash duration with some change in the color temperature of the light.
IGBT units have constant voltage, but have the ability to shut off the flash tube (tail trimming) when the desired amount of light has been emitted. Here flash duration gets faster as the power is decreased. Color temperature should be a little more consistent at different power levels and by cutting off the tail of the flash the ability to freeze motion is increased. When using IGBT flashes, going to half power or lower gives the faster flash durations. 

DISCLOSURE: I am part of the Interfit CreativePros Team

 

Learn about studio lighting

Learn how to light

Join me on the Olympic peninsula of Washington in the town of Sequim on Saturday, July 1, 2017 for a 3-hour lecture and hands-on workshop about studio lighting. This workshop is being presented in cooperation with the Olympic Peaks Camera Club.

The workshop runs from 10am to 2pm and the cost is $50 per person. It is being held at the Dungeness Community Church, 45 Eberle Lane, Sequim, WA 98382. For more information and to register contact Rebecca Hanson at 360-808-3975

interfit_s1

I will be talking about the concepts of lighting and the thought process that happens around selecting equipment, making choices about camera settings, picking a background, and other things that go into a studio portrait. I have just signed on with Interfit Photographic as one of their CreativePros and will be featuring their S1 battery (and A/C) powered lights. 

I hope to see you there!
John