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Posts Tagged ‘Studio Lighting Technology’

RadioPopper Review-By Andrew Collings

February 8th, 2011 No comments

The RadioPopper system allows the photographer to fine-tune the interplay between the existing light and the speedlights.

How the RadioPopper system works:

The RadioPoppers don’t add any functionality to the flashes. But they are essential to using the flash on location. This is because what the RadioPoppers do is to relay, via radio signals, the existing light-based (tiny quick pulses of strobe from the flash) communication system that the Canon flashes and cameras use.

RadioPopper system consists of a device that sits on top of the hot shoe-mounted Master flash and a separate unit that is mounted via an included plastic cradle to the Slave/remote flash(es). The Master flash fires a pre-flash each time you take a photograph and this pre-flash is the control signal to the other flashes. The RadioPopper system captures this preflash light/information, turns it into a radio signal, relays that signal to the RadioPopper receivers mounted to the slave flashes and these receivers then emit out that original master pulse into those slave flashes. The Canon slave flashes are tricked into thinking they received a pulse from the master flash. And it all happens as fast as 1/8000s. It seems like it wouldn’t work consistently. But it does.

Camera with RadioPopper sender unit. All my 580’s have the Honl speedstrap on them permanently as well as a tungsten gel. We built custom holding straps for the camera flash mounted sender.

Examples of our small strobe location lighting kit:

Left: Honl 1/4″ grid (hard light). Right: Honl Photo traveller8 Softbox (long-throw soft spot).

Left: Westcott 43″ Collapsible silver umbrella. We use this umbrella when we need maximum power. Right: Our setup for flare-oriented shooting during dancing.

Contents of our small strobe location lighting kit. I like the Manfrotto Nanostands for many lighting situations and it’s great that they fit right in the case! But we also bring 2 10′ heavy duty stands in a stand sling bag.

Example photographs shot with RadioPoppers and our small strobe system;

Being able to shoot TTL fill flash outdoors without worries of sync problems is great! So is shooting at high shutter speeds and wide apertures–here at 1.4 and 1/4000s !

Our experience with the RadioPopper system has been excellent. We have very rarely had any issues with the electronics. It really is like magic, especially when one uses the system with the 5DmkII and 1DmkIV and the 580exII flashes. When those items are used, you are able to control all your remote flashes with the menu system on the back of the camera. While it’s more complicated to turn the Master/Slave flash mode on and off than it is on the 580ex flash (the 580ex has a physical switch to do that right on the flash), it’s much easier to configure the settings with the 580exII. It’s great that it works so well, since one has virtually no understanding of why it isn’t working since it’s all wireless electronic hocus pocus.

Photographic LED Lighting

September 10th, 2009 No comments

Litepanels 1X1 Kit

LED lighting will play a crucial role in the evolution of photography. I’ve dreamed of a specific light my entire career and LED technology makes that light possible. The light would be small yet bright, dimmable and with adjustable color. This light would run cool and quite on battery power. That’s exactly what LEDs can do.

LED lights are quickly replacing all forms of lighting. In most cases it’s just a better technology. Just look for a flashlight or camping lantern and you’ll see what I mean. My friends at have developed a light engine that will be manufactured for mobile operating rooms. This LED light source replaces traditional incandescent systems, and it lasts over 4x longer than other lights using similar battery packs . I’ve been playing with one of these “light engine” prototypes and I love it. It’s shows incredible potential as a photographic light: bright, cool, adjustable, and small.

Look for manufactures of all sorts of photography lighting to move to LED sources in the coming years. As I said before, it’s simply a superior photography technology. I’m curious weather or not these lights could be “pulsed” like a strobe. An LED light that could turn on for a 1/4000 of a second would replace the need for standard on-camera flash and studio strobe systems . At the very least, manufacturers will replace modeling lights with LEDs and compact flash units will become hybrid lights.

The move to hybrid cameras that shoot both stills and video is driving a need for continuous lighting. Also, strobes can’t keep up with the frame rates that are possible with today’s cameras.  HDR imaging also requires a continuous light source because shutter speed adjustments are necessary for exposure changes (changing the aperture changes pixel alignment).

Strobes are available and usable in far brighter ranges than LEDs, however I find this unnecessary. An LED equivalent to a 6400 watt second  strobe would blind everyone on the set. For portrait work, I’m often using 1600WS lights on their lowest settings and sometimes adding neutral density to dim them down. Modern DSLRs do an excellent job at higher ISOs like 400-800, so the need for all the power has really diminished.

Litepanels MicroPro

Litepanels MicroPro

There is already an abundant selection of stage lighting and architectural lighting available in LED. There are also many on camera video lights and ring lights for macro work. Larger arrays of LEDs for studio and location lighting are available, but the selection is limited. I do expect  there to be a vast selection of adjustable color LED lights with available within two years.
Many of these lights are controllable by a stage lighting communications protocol called DMX

Here are a few LED Lighting resources:


Wireless Flash Controllers

February 14th, 2008 1 comment

We used to joke about photographers who “had their lights on strings.” This was an old school way of producing consistent results, but not creative ones. The modern version of that is photographers with their flash still on the camera. With all the options for remote-triggering strobes there is no excuse for using just an on-camera flash. That deer in the headlights straight on small light source look look is so tired. Here I light myself with two Canon 580 EX II flashes. I also used a ring light for fill, then added some lens flair in Photoshop
I really don’t need that much power most of the time, so a a battery powered TTL flash is fine. You can control additional flashes from an on-camera flash or use an IR controller.

Read more…

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