On The Beach - With Nikon
Not the least part of the interest was the performance of the flash equipment on my Nikon camera. I use a DX camera system and nearly always use a fill-flash for outdoor work. Indeed, had I not used a speed light to help with the shooting last Saturday I would not have been able to see half of the subjects.
You see it was a fair, fine, clear, bright, horrible, sunny day on Sorrento beach and not a cloud in sight. Blue sky, more sunshine than was strictly decent, and shadows dripping down from every eyebrow, ear, nose, and hairdo in sight. Had I allowed the camera its head and let it set the exposure for the surroundings, the customers would have looked like expensively-dressed pandas with Oliver Hardy moustaches.
Nikon SB 700 and Stroboframe Press-T bracket to the rescue. Flash on bracket, bracket on camera, turn the flash to match the orientation of the camera. A quick trial run to see what would happen with the SB 700 in TTL mode at 0.0 compensation - not enough. That was fierce sunshine. Then a quick dial-up to +1.0 and it all started to look good. You could see the eyes in the eye sockets and the histogram was starting to come up to speed.
Then on with the motley - I shot into the sunshine knowing that the subjects would look relatively normal with the sea in the background, and when they moved inland all I had to do was pop the compensation down to +0.7 and it looked equally good. The TTL feature of the Nikon flashes means that the days of mental calculations are gone - you just chase your bride and shoot whenever you see a good one.
Please note that I am a close shooter - 3 metres away from the group. If I were one of the stand-off types who lurk back out of counter-battery range and shoot with a long telephoto I would need to put more power into the shot - a Nikon SB 910 would be needed. As it is I find the power of the SB 700 to be all I need.
Here's a comparison for the two in DX terms:
SB 700 GN of 27 at 18mm focal length and GN of 38 at 200mm focal length.
SB 910 GN of 30 at 18mm focal length and GN of 54 at 200mm focal length.
Both of these are with 100 ISO and are quoting the metric GN.
The advantage of the SB 910 in brighter light over a distance would be useful if one were doing long-distance stage work or sports photography. The close-in stuff is perfectly covered by the SB 700. Plus, for me the advantage of a lighter weight on the bracket - my skinny old chicken arms being what they are - means I have the right choice.
Please note that while I use a flash directly on the camera for some work with a big plastic diffuser, the Stroboframe Press -T is really a comfort for outdoor or stage fill. The flash is always at the right position to pop the shadow down behind the subject and there is never any red-eye. Okay, it is a little more weight, but if I am going to have to fire a direct blast of light to beat old Sol, this is the best way to do it.
May I also complement the makers of the Nikon 18-200 lens. For all its having lots of elements inside it, it does not seem to flare badly when exposed to the rottenest light positioning. I have had a few PE tasks to do but really not excessive.