Can any OCF system keep up with 12 FPS bursts?

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by ben_lunsford|2, Dec 19, 2016.

  1. Hello,
    I'm a lighting newbie starting an amateur photography project in the new year and need to know more about portable lighting. Specifically, I will be photographing portraits of people in their own small NY apartments, often with squirming pets or children. For the squirmy aspect I am getting a Sony a99 II (12 FPS continuous burst) as I believe it is the most affordable Full Frame with that much mechanical burst.

    I was going to get one or two pieces of off-camera flash (since flash is lighter than large monolights and I will be hauling all gear on the subway and through the streets for each and every shoot) to use in conjunction with each person's apartment lighting (which may vary widely). But I think I've read that standard flash can't begin to keep up with 12 FPS (i.e., I'd like to take up to 24-30 consecutive shots during a 2-to-2.5 sec. period) and so I will likely need larger monolights? Are there any always-on LED lighting alternatives that might also do the trick?

    Thank you very much for your help.

  2. No LED lighting will provide enough light to use
    motion-stopping shutter speeds, say <1/200th sec.
    Not at sensible apertures and ISO speeds. At apertures wider than f/4 your DOF is so thin that any AF system will be stretched to keep the subject in focus at 12fps.

    Speedlights also will only keep up with 12 fps at low power settings (maybe 1/16th power at most). The good news here is that lower power means a shorter flash duration, and that an accessory power pack will shorten recycle times.

    However, after the first frame of a sequence everything will be down to pure chance. Do you really want to waste 90% of your shooting time using a "spray and pray" technique? And then having to wait several seconds while the camera buffer empties and for your speedlights to recycle and cool down? Not to mention the post-shoot editing to weed out hundreds of non-keeper shots. I'd rethink your shooting style if I were you.
  3. Forget squirming, you'd scare the life out of an animal with flash at 12 fps!
    Set to 100Ws I was able to get 11fps with a Quantum 400Ws set up. If you added more 200Ws boosters to the basic 200Ws pack you'd probably get up to 12fps for 24-30 shot sequence but you'd need quite a few boosters.. maybe a dozen (?!).
    Some lighting which has a TTL capability would be your requirement. These cycle to full storage capacity each time and use what they need for each shot but recycle again to full power each time. This won't happen in the time you're thinking about so you'll need a big energy reserve in the first place.
    LED's, Tungsten, HMI's would all be better options I'd say.
  4. Ditto Rodeo Joe.
    What you need is a responsive camera. Less lag between pressing the shutter button, acquiring AF lock, and capturing the shot. Generally a three shot burst is more than enough to catch squirmy kids, hyper pets and fleeting expressions. You also need a camera that can track subject focus in continuous AF mode ... not all cameras are great at this, especially in low interior light.
    Modern flash (speed-lights) may be able to recycle this 3 shot burst IF set at a lower power level. They also may STILL shut down due to built-in thermal limiters after a few bursts. Plus, at lower levels, it is doubtful that the speed-light can overwhelm the apartment ambient color temp ... which can produce ugly skin tones really fast.
    Technology cannot always replace skill and intuitive timing. With a little practice, anticipation goes a long way toward capturing the decisive moment that even 12 FPS may miss if you aren't tuned in to your subject.
    - Marc
  5. Thank you, all three of you, for the great tips!

    I'm definitely rethinking the overkill of 24-30 frames of the same shot and thinking I can pick the best of say 6 to get the same best result (e.g., no blinking or capturing an unanticipated but great expression). So perhaps that helps.

    But I am thinking more and more about what Ian said regarding scaring the life out of animals with flash at 12 fps. Would an "always-on" light be best? Is there any always-on non-flashing lighting solution that can also deal effectively with the issue Rodeo Joe mentioned about getting enough light to use shutter speeds faster than 1/160th sec?
  6. ..Tungsten, HMI's would work with a good low light camera.
  7. I echo others.
    You need to learn to WATCH the subject to determine when to shoot. This is part of your skill development. It is very similar to catching sports at the peak moment, vs. today's spray and pray method of shooting many sports. No skill, just press the shutter button and hold for a few seconds. Then sort through all the pix to look for the good ones.
    Continuous lighting is what you are looking for. But that comes at a cost. Hot lights are ... HOT. LED is still catching up in terms of light level and color balance.
    Use higher ISO levels to get your shutter speed higher. Yes you loose quality compared to ISO 100, but you will be able to get the shot.
  8. Repeated flash has a tendency to close the subject's eyes and cause them to squint in the pics and look tired. High fps with flash may be a good technique for photographing e.g. jumps, circus acts, and dance moves in a studio environment as long as you don't need the subjects to have eyes open in the shots. For portraits, eyes open is usually a very basic requirement, or at least you need to keep that option open. With high fps flash it's not going to happen. Continuous light would allow your subjects to keep their eyes open in the shots and they can get used to the lighting and you can get a more natural appearance of eyes. However, with continuous light you may not be able to get as much light as you could with flash, so you may need to elevate the ISO setting and/or use a wider aperture than you'd need to with flash. However, you could shoot with rapid fire (high fps) to your heart's content if you use continuous lighting. Of course, the clicking sound of the shutter may be something of a distraction so it too may affect how the subjects react.
    With continuous lighting it may be challenging to achieve soft lighting but if you take advantage of existing light sources (window light would be great) you may be able to augment the existing lighting with continuous lights to be better quality and you can retain some of the true ambience of the location. With flash you often create a different look that is not exactly what people would remember seeing in the location of the shoot, however flash does allow high quality images with great colour and sharpness, and more control over aperture and diffusion level of the light.
    Personally I would not use high fps to capture portraits. Rather I would look through the viewfinder and anticipate the timing of the best expressions and then capture individual frames. For this, a large optical viewfinder is the best. I find it very difficult to anticipate subject emotions and expressions using an electronic viewfinder. I think you might be surprised how much subjects may change their behavior when you use an extended high fps burst to capture a series of shots. I think such a technique would be best used for rapid action, not so much portraits which should show character. If you have a large number of subjects (big group) then it may be that a burst would help capture everyone with eyes open (only if not using flash), however a few manually timed shots would do it also and you can better control what you will get.
  9. There is the Einstein E640
  10. As you're in NYC I suggest renting various equipment and see what gives you the look your after. Very rapid strobe has its points as has continuous lighting. Both introduces their own flow of image capture, timing and anticipation. For a more "natural" set I could see continuous lighting at adequate strength so your little animals and kids to freak out. It might feel a bit Harsh, but you have to mold the light. Plus, you see what you get...
  11. The Quantum Qfllash is the only one I can think of right now. Some of the copycat strobes might do it (Flashpoint, Godox,Cheetah) but I know the Quantums will do it without overheating. Now that I said that, your mileage may vary. The Quantums are expensive, but they make up for it in their durability and consistency. And the light they put out is fantastic! You can buy a decent one on EBay for a reasonable price. The older T2 and T2d, could be upgraded to T3d-R, which is in essence a T5d-R, except for use with the Qnexus FW7. What it does is makes the flash compatible with the wireless QTTL system and the Quantum Co pilot and Pilot wireless adapters and its accompanying FreeXWire controllers. Quantum was recently sold so getting the upgrades have been iffy with the older models. They are still upgrading the newer models, and I hIGHLY recommend getting the newest firmware upgrade.
  12. I can tell you what I do which is likely not the best solution but it works for me.

    1 - Use natural light whenever possible. Foldable bounce is a great and very lightweight thing and fewer color temp problems. The sun is the best designed continuous light source I've ever found.

    Then, if really necessary... and current thinking with as little power as I absolutely need, speedlights (Phottix Odin & Mitros+ and LP-180R's), then if necessary mono's (E640's and in a couple of weeks some Digibees). My only complaint w/ the Phottix system is that I can't fire them from a meter. Well, you can but only at full power which is of somewhat limited use.

Share This Page