Beginning External Flash – The Gear

An external flash is a flash not built in to your camera. They only work with DSLR cameras and mount on to the “hot shoe” (the metal part with a few small prongs) on top of the camera. The biggest question I’m sure many readers have is “What external flash should I purchase?” There are so many flashes to choose from in a wide price range, and it can be a bit overwhelming. I bought a used flash that I ended up hating, it didn’t suit my needs or have the flexibility I wanted, so I did more research and finally found a flash I loved in a great price range.

I purchased the YN560-II from Amazon, and it’s my favorite flash. It’s compatible with many different brands of cameras including Nikon, Canon, Pentax, and Olympus. I like the shape of the big flash head, I can use it in manual mode or TTL, slave mode (we will go over all of these modes in future blog posts), and the head swivels both horizontally and vertically. It doesn’t eat my batteries up quickly and it takes normal AA batteries, no need to purchase a $10 set of two batteries to be used up in an hour. I love how Yongnuo updates its flashes well, and the newer model, the YN-560 III also utilizes the transmitters already built in to many DSLR’s so users don’t have to purchase additional transmitters. The flash is also very affordable, at $71 for the latest model, versus the good flashes from Nikon and Canon I have found. This is a fantastic flash for those looking to start using external flash

While the flash on its own is a great tool, I really recommend one other piece of gear to make it even better. Every flash needs a diffuser for general use, and while pretty much any flash diffuser is better than nothing, I really love the Neomart 3 Color Flash Diffuser set. It’s inexpensive, and when I finally purchased one I started to notice a dramatic difference in the quality of my images, especially while indoors. These two pieces of gear are perfect for the photographer looking to begin using flash photography.

Of course, there is always more gear one can purchase. When I want to get really creative, I like to put my flash on a transmitter and stand. So far I have used the Cowboy Studio transmitters for my own flash, and they have worked just fine. Be sure to look in your manual and the reviews of the flash to see if your camera requires it to use a transmitter for use. I also occasionally use an umbrella, either a white shoot-through umbrella, or a opaque reflective umbrella, depending on the softness of the light I am going for. We will go over use cases for each of these items in a future blog post and you can decide what pieces of gear you would like to try. 

What is your favorite external flash gear? Have you struggled with a piece of gear and could use some help figuring it out? Share your stories and a link to your site or blog here!

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