SB-24, Stroboframe, and Diffuser/Bouncer Attachments

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by glaserp, Jun 28, 2005.

  1. glaserp

    glaserp Guest

    Hi,

    I have been doing available light photography for years and am now
    interested in using a flash, mostly for photographing people at
    parties, weddings, etc. My primary goal in choice of equipment is to
    obtain as natural a look as possible with the artifical light. I've
    learned quite a bit from searching this newsgroup and other sources,
    and have narrowed down my equipment choices, but have a few questions.

    My primary camera is a Nikon F4, and it seems that the SB-24, which is
    in pentiful suppply at reasonable prices on the used market, is the
    best choice of flash. I've read good things about the matrix blanced
    fill flash capability, which I'm hoping will help get the most natural
    look in fill-flash situations. The complication is that I anticipate
    getting a digital body sometime in the next few years and so am
    wondering what features I will lose when using the SB-24 on a Nikon
    DSLR such as the D70 or D1H. I'm assuming that I would loose matrix
    balanced fill-flash, but I'm wondering whether TTL functionality would
    still work? Any other issues to be aware of?

    Based on what I've read in reviews, and in the archives, it seems that
    the Stroboframe Pro-T is good choice of brackets. If I lived closer to
    a well-stocked camera store I would go, as many suggest, and try them
    out, but that's not an easy option for me. The fact that this bracket
    enables you to handle the camera as usual means, to me, that the risk
    of ease-of-use or ergonomic problems is not as great as with some of
    the more radical brackets. A couple of questions, then, about the
    Stroboframe Pro-T. First, is the hight of the flash over the camera
    adjustable? Second, everyone says to get the anti-twist plate, but it
    is not clear to me what that does. By the way, the Stroboframe URL
    that's been posted in the past
    (http://www.saundersphoto.com/html/strobo.htm) is no longer any good --
    the domain has expired.

    Finally, as I thumb through the B&H sourcebook, I am bewildered by the
    wide variety of difusers and bounce attachments. First of all, it's not
    clear to me what difference there is, in lighting effect, between a
    difuser and a pocket bouncer. Are they two different ways of achieveing
    the same effect, or should I be getting both? Secondly, it seems to me
    that if you consistently used an attached bouncer, as opposed to
    ceilings and walls, you would get more consistent results (or at least
    would not need to figure one more variable into the situation). Is this
    so, or are there reasons why bouncing off walls/ceilings is better than
    an attachment? Finally, can anyone recommend a good diffuser and/or
    bouncer attachment to start with?

    Many thanks for your help.

    --Phil
     
    glaserp, Jun 28, 2005
    #1
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  2. glaserp

    Skip M Guest

    The height of the flash over the lens is adjustable, and there are several
    holes in the arm to adjust the flash laterally, too. I don't have the
    anti-twist plate, the guy at the camera store said it didn't work as well as
    its cost would indicate, if you know what I mean. Several suggestions were
    put forth to stop the bracket from twisting, among them a used piece of
    inner tube, but I found that super gluing the cork skid pad down stopped
    most of the twist, and this with a Quantum T4d mounted. Before I did that,
    the frame would twist out from underneath the cork, but the cork would stay
    nicely put, vis a vis the camera base...
    I use a Lumiquest Pocket bounce on my Canon 420EX, I've used the same bounce
    for 20 years, not the same brand, the same bounce, 5 different flashes. It
    has always performed as it should, giving me a fairly even, fairly soft
    light. Bouncing of a wall or a ceiling may give you a more diffuse light,
    but sometimes that wall or ceiling is too far away to be effective. And
    there are no walls or ceilings, outdoors...
     
    Skip M, Jun 28, 2005
    #2
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  3. <snip>

    The SB-24 will not give TTL flash with any of the digital Nikons. To get
    TTL with the D1 series or the D100 you need any of the flashes with a 'DX'
    suffix giving dTTL mode and for the D70 you need the SB-800 or SB-600
    giving iTTL mode. The D2 series will use either iTTL or dTTL. All of
    these dTTL or iTTL flashes will be compatible with your F4 for TTL flash.
    The only thing you will miss on the F4 is 'rear curtain synch'. The F4
    needs a 'rear curtain synch' switch on the flash and the only ones which
    have this are the SB-24,25 and 26. I have an SB-800 and it works well on
    my D70, F4 and Nikkormat. The SB-800 also comes supplied with a diffuser.

    Ronnie
     
    Ronnie Sellar, Jun 28, 2005
    #3
  4. : The SB-24 will not give TTL flash with any of the digital Nikons. To get
    : TTL with the D1 series or the D100 you need any of the flashes with a 'DX'
    : suffix giving dTTL mode and for the D70 you need the SB-800 or SB-600
    : giving iTTL mode. The D2 series will use either iTTL or dTTL. All of
    : these dTTL or iTTL flashes will be compatible with your F4 for TTL flash.

    I think it is worth noting that the SB800 and SB600 support both iTTL and
    dTTL, so if you are considering both a D70 and a D1 you don't need
    different flashes for them.

    -Bjørn
     
    Bjørn Pedersen, Jun 28, 2005
    #4
  5. Thanks, Bjorn. I forgot to mention that.

    Ronnie
     
    Ronnie Sellar, Jun 28, 2005
    #5
  6. glaserp

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Take a look at the SB-25 and SB-26, which are really low priced on the
    used market. The SB-26 makes a good second, or background/hair light
    flash, since it has a slave strobe built in. Both of these are also a
    slight upgrade on an SB-24, and will fit the same accessories. The StoFen
    fits on both those.
    Sometimes. TTL flash is not always as accurate as it seems it should be.
    Quite often a slight change in the settings helps more than leaving it on
    automatic modes. Manual settings often work well, though only if you know
    the set-up. When the action is changing often, or time to set-up and meter
    is short, then Automatic or TTL work faster. Quite often the differences
    in the settings might not show lots of differences in the results.
    Practice will help you find the combinations that work best for different
    situations.
    The newer TTL uses preflashes to allow a reading that determines flash
    cut-off. I have heard some photographers complain that this preflashing
    can get some subjects either squinting or blinking, so I guess using those
    with some care my be a good choice. Your older flash will only work in
    Automatic or Manual, though that should be fine for many situations.
    Voltage and hooking many units together by cord. Nikon has more
    information on combining and connecting flash units, though it does differ
    slightly from one camera to another.
    I have actually just used a cord and my arm, or an instant assistant, for
    off camera flash. Bouncing the flash in a direction other than straight
    ahead can also sometimes make for good shots. I find the Stroboframe
    products too bulky and unwieldy.
    They are actually really close. The diffuser, like a StoFen, is very
    compact and rugged. A Pocket Bounce appears larger, and might be more
    distracting to your subjects. Of course, get the largest Pocket Bounce,
    mount that on a large Speedlight on top of a fully extended Stroboframe,
    and it could like like a giant crane coming at your subject. ;-)
    The StoFen just sort of lets the light go everywhere. The Pocket Bounce
    directs is more forward, and a little to the sides.
    The Pocket Bounce is white, while many walls might be off white, or
    another colour. The colour of the bounced flash could affect the colour of
    the subjects as they appear on the final image.
    I like the StoFen products. Easy to use, no velcro needed, easy to remove,
    and durable. The LumiQuest Pocket Bounce products are also nice, and the
    small softbox and small bounce work nicely.
    Always test before using for work. If you can afford it, get yourself a
    good flash meter than gives a flash to ambient percentage reading, and
    takes readings from multiple flashes.
     
    Gordon Moat, Jun 28, 2005
    #6
  7. glaserp

    glaserp Guest

    Hi Skip,
    It seems strange that this device doesn't behave itself out of the box.
    I'll try the super glue.

    Another question I forgot: I noticed that there's an optional device
    that lets you quickly attach/detach the bracket/camera from a tripod.
    Is it possible to attach the Pro-T to tripod as is, without the
    optional thing?

    Thanks for the info -- this is very helpful!

    --Phil
     
    glaserp, Jun 29, 2005
    #7
  8. glaserp

    glaserp Guest

    Hi Gordon,
    Do you mean that the SB-26 can be slaved to another flash without any
    additional equipment? Can it be slaved to an SB-24? I'm thinking, if I
    want two flashes, I might get the SB-26 only as a second flash. I mean,
    I'll keep my eyes open for both the 24 and the 26, but the 24 seems
    just a tad bit cheaper, and I'm already envisoning the, ehem,
    _discussion_ I'll be having with my wife about this purchase.
    Based on what I've read about this technology, I'm fully expecting to
    go through a bit of a learning curve, especially for situations where,
    with fill flash, shutter speed needs to be adjusted to adequately
    expose a background and that sort of thing. I'd love to get a flash
    meter, but budget does not allow it. . . .
    Notwithstanding my disappointment about loosing TTL with a DSLR, I
    can't stomache spending the extra money to get a newer flash,
    especially given that I would _loose_ the capability to do rear curtain
    synch. I'll just have to go with the flow that Nikon is leading me
    towards, which is that each camera generation requires a new flash
    generation. It seems to me, though, that doing plain old Automatic or
    Manual with a digital would be easier than it would be with a film
    camera, since you'd get immediate feedback about how the lighting is
    working. (Do people still use Polaroids for this kind of thing?)
    It seems like an imporatnt consideration is size and convenience: the
    difuser is smaller than the bouncer (especially if one were to get one
    of those space-inader style things as you allude to) and, since it is
    fitted for specific flahes, doesn't have the hassle of attaching the
    bounce. It seems though that either way I can't go wrong.

    Thanks for all your help!

    --Phil
     
    glaserp, Jun 29, 2005
    #8
  9. glaserp

    Skip M Guest

    Yeah, I felt the same thing, but I think we've become inured to having
    ourselves nominated at beta testers against our will, or at least
    maintenance people, to keep things running, due to our acceptance of balky,
    buggy computers/software. So, we soldier on, making adjustments as we go,
    and the manufacturers half ass everything but their profits...
    The bracket can be attached to a 'pod without the quick release plate, but
    I've found it easier to deal with the whole contraption with the plate. ( I
    have a small one from Manfrotto, cost about $25) It's easier to get the
    amalgamation of the flash, bracket, camera and assorted cords on the tripod
    with the plate, rather than trying to align the whole shooting match up with
    a 1/4" screw that you can't see.
     
    Skip M, Jun 29, 2005
    #9
  10. Try
    http://www.tiffen.com/Stroboframe_ProT_page.htm
    The anti-twist plate for the camera has a raised rear lip and index
    pins for the Pro-T. They are camera specific and Stroboframe makes one
    for the F4s. I usually use mine on a modified Manfrotto QR plate with
    holes for the index pins. There are also anti-twist plates for the
    flash mount that capture an SC-17 or AS-10 to keep the flash from
    twisting.
    The bouncers are closer to what you want. A small "diffuser" isn't
    much better than a bare flash. Here's something from Sunpak that works
    really well that you might be able to adapt to your SB-24. I usually
    use these with my Sunpak 433D's and shoot my SB-24's into a small
    umbrella.
    http://www.adorama.com/SUBK.html?searchinfo=sunpak&item_no=208
    Something like a Lumiquest BigBounce would probably look similar.
     
    bob.kirkpatrick, Jun 29, 2005
    #10
  11. glaserp

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Yes. It has a delay or synchronous switch and sensor on the front. Of course,
    the head can be rotated and positioned in nearly any direction, so the sensor
    can always face the other strobes.
    Sure, it actually will work with any flash, and at a fairly good distance. This
    is much cheaper than a Nikon SU-4 and another newer flash.
    I read an article in PDN about a guy who carries a case of Speedlights to light
    larger objects on location. The article showed him lighting a fighter jet, and
    if I recall correctly there were several SB-26s in use.

    I was looking into the Wein slave flash adapters, then a Nikon SU-4, then some
    Chinese made slave adapters. Then I stumbled across a few articles about the
    SB-26, and it seemed like an easier solution than lots of long wires, slave
    adapters, or anything else. They are just too easy to use and carry, and the
    used prices mean getting a good one for under $100 is easy.
    Shame, but it might be something to think about in the future. Just the
    multiple flash and flash to ambient ratios can be really useful. If you do lots
    of shooting, it is faster and more efficient to meter than to bracket.
    I don't like it either. Nikon needs to sell newer gear, so I guess this will
    not change in the future. One good thing is that the older Speedlights have
    held up really well, and are durable gear with many years of use possible.
    The LCD on the back of the camera is not always a good review choice. Other
    than the small size, it is too affected by the lighting under which you are
    viewing the LCD. The advantage of Polaroids, especially the newest type 690
    film, is that you get a really good idea of how the film should respond. Rather
    than chimping your way to good exposures, just carry a couple small Maglight
    flashlights (torches to those in the UK). You can position the Maglights about
    where each strobe sits, then see the shadows cast by each. This is a really
    simple and cheap modelling light set-up, and can be better at visualizing
    strobe set-ups than using Polaroids, or chimping your LCD.
    I have two StoFen, and one of the velcro LumiQuest devices. Other than that, I
    have a bunch of reflectors and diffusers, also useful for daylight. When I need
    even more, I get some white, black, or grey art boards at the local art store.
    Oh . . . carry lots of those cheap pinch clamps that are sold in hardware
    stores.
    Glad to be of help.
     
    Gordon Moat, Jun 29, 2005
    #11
  12. glaserp

    glaserp Guest

    Do you mean that the SB-26 can be slaved to another flash without any
    Oh, duh, I didn't understand this before: you mean the SB-26 can be
    slaved to another flash using a _sensor_, so you don't need wiring or
    radio control? Spiffy! I'm really just getting my feet wet with
    artifical lighting of _any_ kind, so slaves and that sort affair are a
    ways off for me (though being a consumate gearhead, I can easily see
    myself with a few SB-24/26 and umbrellas at some point). Part of the
    idea for me is to use this initial lighting setup to do some small paid
    gigs to feed my ever expanding appetite for photographic devices. . . .
    I was thinking, actually, that one would bring along a light laptop and
    view the test shots on a bigger screen. Too, you'd need to do some kind
    of calibration between the digital and your film camera. Sounds hairy
    actually. I suppose, as you say, film, even Polaroid, would give a
    better idea of how another film will respond . . .
    You know after I wrote this last night I took a look on ebay, just for
    grins, and the polaroid adaptor for the F4 turns out to be selling
    surprisingly cheaply on the used market (given that they sell for over
    $800 new).

    That's an interesting idea. I'd have thought you'd need the
    policeman-sized maglight (the D cell variety), but you seem to be
    saying the doctor-sized maglight (the AA variety) would work. Even the
    small one's have the capability to focus so I can see how that would
    work. Very cool.

    --Phil
     
    glaserp, Jun 30, 2005
    #12
  13. glaserp

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Yes, the sensor is built into the SB-26. I don't know of any other Nikon Speedlight
    that ever had that feature.
    I think reflectors and diffusers are more important, and it is a good thing they are
    cheaper than lights. There are a few good vendors on EBAY that have some nice items
    at really low cost.
    Much slower than a Polaroid, unless you want to work tethered to the computer. The
    other issue is that you should calibrate the laptop to the lighting conditions at
    the location, which takes even more time.
    I tried several methods a few years ago of using direct digital, tethered and free
    standing, and other than seeing where the shadows might be, the results just were
    not close enough for that sort of testing. A Polaroid ended up being faster and
    simpler.
    These come up every once in a while. Another option is one of the older Polaroid
    cameras, like a 250 Automatic. These use the full area of the pack film, so they can
    give a nice overview of your set-up. The Polaroid NPC adapter for a Nikon is more
    accurate, but the image is smaller. It is cheap insurance, a good learning tool, and
    something you can have fun with.
    I like carrying a somewhat lighter load when I can. Of course, if you are going to a
    bad location, or need some crowd control, either a large maglight, or a Manfrotto
    3021 with 3047 head will clear a path. ;-)
     
    Gordon Moat, Jun 30, 2005
    #13
  14. glaserp

    McLeod Guest

    They removed that feature when they realized they could get another
    $100 by selling it as an accessory.
     
    McLeod, Jun 30, 2005
    #14
  15. glaserp

    Gordon Moat Guest

    So that is why the SU-4 came out after the SB-26 was discontinued. I guess the SU must
    stand for SUcker. ;-)
     
    Gordon Moat, Jun 30, 2005
    #15
  16. glaserp

    Tony Polson Guest


    The SU-4 is a **superb** piece of kit, because it controls the flash
    power of the flash unit it is connected to, wirelessly. It is far
    superior to the SB-26.

    That is because, in slave mode, the SB-26 will only fire at full
    power, whereas the SU-4 senses the precise start and finish of the
    flash from the master flash unit and turns the slave flash on and off
    at precisely the same times for exactly the same flash duration.

    The SU-4 sells at a mere $75 and is worth every single penny. It is
    one of the very best features of the superb Nikon flash system.

    As an added bonus, you don't need to use a Nikon brand flash unit on
    the SU-4. It works perfectly with any brand of Nikon TTL-dedicated
    flash unit.

    Until the SU-4 came along, this could only be done with wired flash,
    or by using the SB-26 at full power.
     
    Tony Polson, Jun 30, 2005
    #16
  17. glaserp

    Gordon Moat Guest

    I think you missed the ;-) in the post.
    Not true. The SB-26 can be set to any power level on Manual. The "Full Power" is only
    available on Automatic, and you can only get full output at maximum distance from the
    SB-26 to the subject.
    The SU-4 allows for TTL control, on cameras that use TTL control for the master flash
    unit. However, in practice the SU-4 has not been that efficient in TTL mode. I has seen
    many recommendations for using Auto when you are not sure, or just setting Manual
    settings, making an SU-4 not much better than a Wein slave, or the SB-26. Theory does not
    match practice here.
    Nice, but questionable in some situations. Indeed, slightly more expensive than Wein
    units, but far less than a PocketWizard.
    True, if the other brand flash will work in TTL on the particular Nikon camera.
    If you could only get your SB-26 to fire at full power, you were doing something wrong, or
    your SB-26 was defective. I regularly can set Manual down to 1/64 power, and when I use
    Automatic on the remote SB-26, it will not give full power unless the distance from flash
    to subject is greater than 8 meters. Of course, if it is greater than 8 m distance, then
    you likely will want full power.

    I thought you dumped all your Nikon gear for Olympus digital Tony? Anyway, the SU-4 is not
    bad, but not as great as some people, or Nikon, make it out to be.
     
    Gordon Moat, Jun 30, 2005
    #17
  18. glaserp

    Tony Polson Guest

    I dumped all my Nikon gear for Pentax 35mm SLR, Leica rangefinder,
    Hasselblad 6x6cm and ... yes, Olympus Digital. ;-)
    Perhaps it is too complicated for some people. I recommend reading
    Thom Hogan's Nikon Flash Guide.

    ;-)
     
    Tony Polson, Jul 1, 2005
    #18
  19. glaserp

    McLeod Guest


    As I understand it, the auto works with the slave as well. If I'm
    going to the trouble of setting up multiple flash units I'm going to
    meter them, or with digital do some test shooting, so the SU-4 would
    become an expensive external slave anyway.
     
    McLeod, Jul 1, 2005
    #19
  20. glaserp

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Both Automatic and Manual function on the SB-26 in slave mode. I think it
    has been too long since Tony owned any Nikon gear, so he probably did not
    remember that. The set-up and testing you do is basically the way I do
    it. Not much point in having a flash meter if it does not get used. ;-)

    I like the SU-4, mostly because it is a good platform, but they are too
    expensive to just use that way. I have not liked the TTL results most of
    the time, so I prefer setting Manual, then metering. Sometimes I will run
    off a Polaroid or two, though usually just metering. I would like to find
    a cheap plastic foot, or stand to hold external Speedlights.

    I think the multiple TTL automation was developed for sports
    photographers more than anyone. The need to control strobes without being
    able to measure the results first seems like something that would only be
    useful for the truly lazy, or those in a situation with many
    photographers in the same area. Just trust in automation, and it can let
    you down.
     
    Gordon Moat, Jul 1, 2005
    #20
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