Sunday, 24 April 2016

Know Your Lights (Part 1)

Bare head Profoto AcuteB flash.

This was something of an experiment to find out about the quality of light from three different flash heads. I'd recently invested in a Profoto AcuteB flash head, which although now discontinued by Profoto, was still by far and away the most expensive flash I'd ever bought! Having invested the cash into this head, I wanted to compare it against two other heads to find out how it performed. The other flashes were a Nikon SB24 camera flash and an Interfit Stellar Extreme.

The Lighting


The same lighting setup was used for each of the shots and the results were quite amazing; showing that it really is worth learning about the flash, or flashes, that you have. Here's the lighting diagram...

Lighting setup used to test the three flash heads / strobes.

Each of the flashes was positioned at the same height and although I had to adjust aperture to allow for the power of the different flashes,  nothing else was changed. The shutter speed remained the same for all the shots and ensured that the ambient light had no effect. That will become important once we see the results of the images.

Before we get into the results thought, let's just see what we are expecting in terms of light quality. All the flashes / strobes were used with no modifiers and hence are bare-headed, or bare bulb, light sources. That means a small point light source resulting in a hard light source, so I'm expecting to see harsh, dark shadows.

Each light was just few feet away and positioned slightly higher than the subject. Other than resizing the images for these posts, there was no post-processing done on any of the photos.

Let's go through each one in an individual post, and then in the final post we'll put the three images next to each other so we can really see the differences.

Profoto AcuteB

This was the first flash head that I tested, and I was very pleasantly surprised at how soft the shadows are, even with no light modifiers. OK, so I know I could get much softer with a beauty dish or a softbox, but I was genuinely amazed that the light is not at all harsh. There is still plenty of detail in the shadow areas on the face, and the shadows on the background (camera left) are also soft.

I wasn't expecting that from a bare headed flash, and I'd be happy to use this light with no light modifiers if I had to.

It's going to be interesting to see what the normal camera flash is going to do, and in the next post we'll see the result from a bare head Nikon SB-24 flash / strobe.

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