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What Is the Best Camera Flash Setup for Working Quickly?

Published: 01/11/2017
By: larry

Last week I got two similar questions about which flashes to use for real estate photography. Shane said:

I'm switching to the Scott Hargis style lighting for my real estate clients. I've shot interiors in the past using studio strobes and umbrellas etc. and will continue to do that when appropriate, but I want to know the best off camera flash set up for working quickly. I'm thinking one in the left hand on a monopod and one or two somewhere else in larger spaces.

I was looking at the Yongnuo brand which I'm thinking is a good bet for real estate (especially after having one, and then a second, expensive Nikon SB900's knocked over and destroyed in the past year). I've heard the Yongnuos are cheap and perfect for real estate.

Yes, many real estate photographers use the Yongnuo YN560 flashes. The latest version is the YN560 IV ($65 USD). If you get a companion YN560-TX ($37 USD) and put it in the hot shoe of your camera, it will trigger all your YN560s and even let you control the power of each flash.

Many real estate photographers use the flash on a monopod approach - also referred to as "flash on a stick".

17 comments on “What Is the Best Camera Flash Setup for Working Quickly?”

  1. I use a Nissin Di700A with the air 1. I put one on a small tripod that I can hold up if I need it, and one in my hand and point it where I need it.

    I also will put the flash on it’s little stand that it comes with in a place that I can easily use content aware in PS to remove it. Seems to work good in some situations.

    I’m pretty new so I’ve just been experimenting with different things.

    The Nissin flash is simple and really easy to use. It’s also very well built.

  2. I have 6 YN560s but have used more than 3 with only 1 home the last year. Two are on Goodwill tripods that cost almost nothing. The 3rd gets balanced on doors, good for 2 or 3 drops before quitting. Panasonic eneloop batteries get charged every night and still work great after 2 years. A thrifty setup that works just great.

  3. I actually use Yongnuos 560 iii flashes, but I am currently recommending the Flashpoint R2 Zoom speedlight units to folks because they are just as cheap, and you are investing into a system that you can grow into no matter how big your jobs get. They have got Lion speedlights, which is what I would recommend, but they also have the AA powered speedlights, which are the same price ($65) as the Yongnuos, and much better quality.

  4. I'm in with the Yongnuo system too. I use the 560 IV's, typically 2-3 lights at a time. 1-2 on stands for off spaces and another handheld. The Yongnuo trigger is around $40 and the flashes around $75 or so. Easy to find online. I've dropped / banged around a couple so replacing them isn't killing the bank when I need to. I just use rechargeable amazon basic aa's. They last for about 1.5 days of shooting before needing a recharge.

  5. I use multiple Yongnuo YN-685's along with the YN560-TX transmitter. Best. Setup. Ever.

    And thank you to you, Larry, I learned about them here first, a couple of years ago.

    The only time I still use my SB-900 is to do a top-of-the-camera mount when I want to do TTL.

  6. I have been scared off by YN's, and now have ditched them for good. I had three lose power within a year that were taken care of and never dropped, banged around, abused, etc. I should have listened to reviews because I found a lot of people complained about them losing power. All four of my remaining ones have different power outputs now. Tested them in a controlled environment with a light meter and the range is about three stops between them.
    Switched to Flashpoint/Godox and so far, so good.
    Agree on using Eneloops. Best batteries I've ever used. I have some that are three years old and are still going strong with heavy use.

  7. I have my camera on a tripod with a quick release. I have an SB900 on a short light stand which I use as a key light near the camera. It’s easy to hold with one hand when you need to lift it for the best light effect. I fire it using a wireless trigger. I also have an SB700 on a light weight aluminum tripod. It fires sympathetically with the other flash. I use it to help light larger rooms and spaces beyond. I also carry a yonguo in a holster on my belt. It has an wireless trigger and the little flat pod that keeps it upright. I can hand hold it in small rooms, set it in top of doors ore point it to far corners of rooms for supplemental light. With these three lights I can do 80% of my work. And you can carry all the lights and camera on tripod with two hands. I’m not crazy about Yonguos but they are so cheap. And for $20 you can by drop insurance for them. Then you’re all in for $100 and any time it stops working, OOPS, you drop it and get a new one.

  8. Ah, the long trail to the 'perfect' off-camera flash setup. Began with Cactus units, great when worked but more often either non-fire, or worse, a short causing rapid fire when simply moving the stands. There is no way you can hide that malfunction from clients/homeowner. After trying both v2 and v4 series, it soured me on the 'cheap stuff' and went with full blown Poverty Wizards TT1/TT5 which are rock solid, and should be at that price. Best thing I can say is the optional AC1 unit on camera spoiled me - no more running around lowering stands to adjust flash output and raising stands back, repeating as required. Now, any system MUST have an on-camera control unit as part of the system. Reviewing Neewer's web site, it doesn't appear they would qualify, however Flashpoint/Godox will but the system might be slightly limited compared the Yongnuo in one area. With the move from Nikon to Sony, PW doesn't support Sony, forcing a change. I Ebayed the PW's and went with the Yongnuo - back to cheap economy, but they had been around longer with positive reviews (Godox didn't exist at the time). Technically, Yongnuo doesn't make a Sony version, so purchased the Nikon version as manual flash only requires a firing pin (base provides the ground) in the correct place. Purchased the YN560 which have internal controllers eliminating the need to attach a slave receiver (RF603) at each flash with the 560TX mounting to camera for on-camera controls. I did purchase an RF603 with the intent to use my Nikon SB910 for supplemental lighting of distant rooms, etc, However, while the 560TX would fire the RF603, it wouldn't transmit settings requiring at flash adjustments. Replaced it with an additional cheap YN560 that I don't mount to stands but use the plastic foot that came with it. Great on the floor of a shower at 1/125 power, and on a desk in various rooms bouncing off walls, etc. The fact that the RF603 does communicate with the 560TX may be the one advantage over the Godox system as I don't believe they offer similar (I may be wrong). With the RF603 you can fire other brand speedlites, but more importantly...STUDIO STROBES! While the RF603 requires remote manual adjustment of output, at least with strobes being a primary light source, they are near the camera - not a distant remote room. Also, a hint...whichever system...use color tape (masking/painter's tape) to code flash and stand so you can visually see an know which is which to adjust. In my case, blue tape is Channel B on the controller while brown masking is Channel A, etc.

  9. I use the YN's and love them. After replacing the expensive Nikon flashes within a year, this option was totally exciting. Not only are they easily replaced, but they outwork the Nikon flashes as well. The only issue I have with the YN's is that they lose their power over time. I shoot on average about 25 homes a week. After about a month of straight use, I do see the power slowly decrease.

  10. I concur with Andrew and Jim - YN lose power and it becomes a problem. I moved to Godox last year and I am not looking back. When I use traditional flash, I use the TT600s. They are cheap and effective, but by using the Godox line, it allows me to blend the TT600s with the evolv 200 and the bigger cousin the AB600BM. So all of my needs are covered. I like more power - I sound like "Tim the toolman" but I like the ability to keep the ISO down low.

    I would strongly recomend if anyone moves to the Godox line to buy them from Adorama for the warrenty. They rebrand them under the Flashpoint line. While I haven't had an issue, it's nice to know they will take care of it if something comes up.

    The only downside is the current X1/R2 trigger. I refuse to use it, the form factor sucks. Since I shoot manually I use the XT16 which works fine. No HSS or TTL. In the next few months a new trigger will be released that will address my issues with the X1. It's out now for Canon, Nikon and Sony. Since I use Fujifilm, I have to wait a tad bit longer.

    One other thing I will share is that I have site that I reference all the time for Flash - that is if you want to keep up with the latest trends in that aspect of the industry it's called Pretty decent site to learn what is happening in the world of lighting.

  11. "Working quickly" is a fairly complex thing between what it takes to make the images and post production. I will say that switching to the Yongnuo 560 series flashes with the TX controller saved me a bunch of time walking up and down stairs and dashing between rooms to adjust power on a multiple flash set up. I'm thinking that my next move will be to the Godox range of flashes with the XT32 controller. I agree that the other controller is not as easy to use in some situations. One thing I haven't looked into is the ability to use the XT32 handheld with a separate X1R receiver on the camera. This would allow using a Camranger to remotely view images while standing next to a flash (or holding one) to both change flash settings and position. There is still the problem of bad reflections, getting a hot spot in a bad place or spotting the flash/stand in a reflective surface that requires moving the light and therefore, running back and forth to change settings and review images on the camera. I like that the Godox system includes higher powered portable flash/strobes that all work with the same remote.

    So far I still find that my total time isn't changing much. I can capture the images faster and spend more time in post or vice versa. My biggest savings in time was getting more confidence in my compositions and not shooting alternate views. It's rare that I will make an alternate view of a room and choose one to deliver later. I won't hesitate to get a couple or several views if I feel they are needed to show of the space, but I'll deliver both of them.

  12. Just purchased a couple of the flashpoint(godox) manual flashes at Adorama. On sale for $58. XT32 on sale for $43. Such a bargain.

  13. Having used a wide range of flashes since the film days I can say this with utter confidence:

    Look at the reviews and stellar results from the low cost Godox TT685; I promise you will be blown away with the quality and value. Just sayin'...and yes, it does TTL and high speed sync with (in my experience) perfect reliability at a fraction of the cost you might expect.

    [Unpaid endorsement - Ha]

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