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Regarding a reader’s query about an umbrella clamp (February, 2011, column), Larson Enterprises (www.larson-ent.com) has a universal clamp for their reflectors that I have used to attach any number of items to each other. It is shown in the accessories section of their website and currently runs $49.
You are right. Larson has offered lots of helpful light-modifying devices for several decades. I was not aware of the Universal Clamp but it’s logical that they would make some method of holding or clamping one of their reflectors.
Q. I have two flashes with different Guide Numbers (GN). One has a GN of 175 and another has a GN of 137. If these are both used as remote flashes in the same shot, in TTL mode, is there anything I need to do to even out these different powers?
A. You mention shooting TTL, but don’t say whether you are using wireless TTL metering for the flash. But here’s the gist of the situation when using two different output slave flash units. First of all, with Guide Numbers of 137 and 175 in feet, there is only about a half stop difference in the light output, which means they will have very similar output, thus should not cause any uneven lighting on the subject. If you are shooting with a film camera, you can use any remote flash with slave capability. However, if you are using a digital camera, you must have a newer slave flash that has an adjustment for the sensor on the flash itself. If an older slave flash is used with a digital camera, it will sense the digital pre-flash used for determining autofocusing distance and will fire the slave flash prematurely before the digital camera’s shutter is open and the prime picture-taking flash goes off. This happens so fast you will just see the camera and slave flashes fire and you’ll think everything is OK—but the camera exposure will not be affected by the slave flash. Sorry I cannot be more detailed in this information, but without knowing both the type of camera and flash units you are working with, this is about all the guidance I can offer.
Flash For Non-Hot Shoe Cams
Q. I recently decided to follow my father into the photography business. I provide instant pictures with a Canon PowerShot SX210 IS camera and a portable printer. During the day the pictures are great, but as soon as the sun sets my range for a good picture is significantly reduced. I also use a monopod as I usually take pictures outside for long periods at a time. What additional flash setup would you recommend for my PowerShot SX210 IS (or any digital camera without a flash shoe) that will also allow me to use my monopod?
(Frank) Francisco Medrano
A. Since your Canon PowerShot SX210 IS only has a rather weak built-in pop-up flash and no hot shoe for attaching an accessory flash, about your only recourse to obtain a greater flash range would be to use a slave flash that has a bracket for attaching and holding the flash beside your camera. The slave will sense when your camera flash fires and will then fire itself in perfect sync with your camera without need of any connecting cord. Since the total light output will be increased, you might have to experiment a bit to obtain the correct exposure. Just be sure to get a newer digital slave unit that can be adjusted for conventional flash or digital flash.
There are several digital slave units you might want to consider: the Phoenix D92-BZS Digital Slave (from www.omegabrandess.com) has a GN of 92 and lists for under $70 with a bracket. The Sunpak PF20XD flash also has a bracket and can be used either with a hot shoe or as a slave flash. It can operate on automatic or with a manual override to adjust the output intensity. It sells for about $40.
You mention doing longer exposures after the sun sets using a monopod. Even with the excellent image stabilization feature your Canon compact camera has, a monopod just does not provide a proper steady support needed for exposures of more than about 1⁄15 sec. I suggest you also invest in a sturdy tripod if you intend to do much shooting with longer exposures. The flash itself will freeze any nearby subject movement, but the background could easily blur due to camera movement when only using a monopod.