ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Add some indoor fun to your photography with off-camera flash units

Updated on December 18, 2011

Off camera flash units have a lot of capability for fun

Looking for a great gift idea to go along with a digital camera? Looking to add a new dimension to your photography without spending a lot of money on new cameras or lens? Add a speedlite or flash unit with off camera capabilities to your list of camera equipment.

Speedlites, Flash or Strobe?

All three of these terms are used to describe equipment that build up power using capacitors and release it as light in a flash. Some define the differences as:

  • Speedlight - Camera mounted or mountable flash
  • Flash - Generic term, could mean camera mounted flash or studio strobe.
  • Strobe - Studio Strobes with or without light modifiers attached.

But what really matters it that these devices provide a lot of extra light for low light situations. Most cameras these days come with inboard flash units but typically they have a lot of drawbacks including:

  • Low power - typically designed for snapshot range photos
  • Non-movable - typically they shoot in one direction - straight ahead
  • No diffusion - typically they provide harsh light with deep shadows

Get Your Flash Off Your Camera And Let The Fun Begin

Off camera flashes allow for all kinds of unique lighting effects and lead to better, less snapshot looking photographs. If you think about it, direct forward flash rarely leads to good looking photographs, rather the results are typically red eye as the light bounces off the back of the eye and exposes the red blood vessels and dark, harsh shadows. If you've ever seen a professional photographer at a wedding or an event, you might have noticed they had some kind of diffusion device on the flash unit, had it pointed up to the ceiling to bounce the light around the room, or had the flash mounted on a bracket that put the flash up higher to reduce red eye.

Off camera effects allow one to put the light off to one side for side lighting or bouncing the light off the ceiling or through a diffusion device such as a softbox or umbrella.

Off camera flashes can be triggered in a variety of ways. Many of these flash units include sensors so that the flash is triggered when it senses a quick burst of light. These slave units flash so fast that they combine with the build in flash of your camera or another slave unit. The flashes can also be triggered with PC cords attached to the hot shoe on your camera.

Another way is to buy flash "triggers". These are wireless triggers. The main unit attaches to your hot show and sends the signal to other units when the shutter button is pushed. Each slave flash has a receiver with a hot shoe for the flash unit. You can use a combination of units with the receivers and using the sensor method.

Recommendation for an inexpensive speedlite

I have a Yongnuo YN560 Speedlite that I paid less than $70 and its been great. For half the price of a Lumipro unit or $200 less than a speedlite from Nikon or Canon, for my purposes this unit give me everything I'd want out of an off camera flash unit.

Features of the Yongnuo YN560 include:

  • A reflector board for diffusing the light
  • A wide-angle diffuser for spreading out the light
  • A socket for an external power pack
  • PC port for input
  • Optical control sensor for using the unit as a slave
  • Hot shoe stand
  • Power zoom function to cover focal lengths from 24 to 105mm
  • Wireless triggering sensor with S1 and S2 modes
  • 3 second recharging
  • Super speed recharging when used at 1/8th power
  • Automatic setting saving - it remembers your previous settings

This unit puts out a ton of light (it takes 4 AA batteries as opposed to weaker units that only use 2 AA batteries). Recently I used it to provide the main overall light for a shoot in the kitchen about making Christmas cookies. I set the flash on its stand on top of the kitchen island and pointed at the ceiling to provide light all around the scene. I used another flash unit mounted on a stand with a shoot through umbrella to provide some more hightlight lighting.

Manual control is also available on this unit as well as more expensive stobes. With manual control you can use it to add supplementary light in certain areas of your photograph or balance it with the rest of your lighting scheme.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)