- Speedliter's Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites
- Understanding Flash Photography: How to Shoot Great Photographs Using Electronic Flash
- The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes
- Mastering Studio Strobe Lighitng: Beginning to Advanced Photography Instruction by Jay P. Morgan
- 75 Portraits: Lighting and Posing Techniques for Portrait Photographers
- Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers
- 500 Poses for Photographing Women
- 500 Poses for Photographing Men
- Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It: Learn Step by Step How to Go from Empty Studio to Finished Image
- Secrets of Great Portrait Photography: Photographs of the Famous and Infamous
- Shooting in Sh*tty Light: The Top Ten Worst Photography Lighting Situations and How to Conquer Them
By power output I mean the brightness of a flash, and the better the brightness, the more reach you have with your flash. This can be determined by the Guide Number of a flash. The higher this number, the more powerful the flash is. Most modern-day brand-name flashes will be plenty powerful for your everyday needs, but if you photograph in a certain niche in which you need the extra power, this is important to look for. On the other hand, if you know you don't need a very powerful flash, you could save yourself some money by buying a cheaper one.
This is one of the most important factors depending on what you want to do with your flash. Most photographers will want to use the flash off camera, and there are two ways to do this: Wired or Wireless. You can buy a PC sync cord to connect your camera to your flash and fire it that way. But having cords running all over your studio isn't preferable. Plus, some camera don't even have a PC socket which means you have to get an adapter to use the cords.
The simpler and cleaner way is to use wireless flash. Flashes work wirelessly via an optical system. When a slave flash senses another flash going off (like a pop-up flash), it fires at the same time. Some flashes have a slave function built in, some do not. For those that don't, an adapter can be bought to achieve the same effect.
Master flashes, on the other hand, control slave flashes. Some higher-end cameras have a kind of built in master mode or commander mode which will use the pop-up flash to trigger the other flashes and let you control the settings through your camera. Higher-end flashes can also be used as masters. There's also radio transmitters that don't use the optical system, but (with an exception or two) flashes don't come with built-in radio transmitters which means more money out of your pocket to make the investment.
Battery Life/Recycle time
This is crucial if you need your flash to last a long time in the studio or at a wedding. Most flashes will use a set of high-grade AA batteries that can be recharged. You can also use regular AA batteries, but be aware that different batteries affect the performance of the flash. Your flash manual will usually tell you which batteries are the best and the limitations that other batteries will give you. Remember that using your flash on high power settings will drain the batteries faster.
Also important is the recycle time. This is time it takes for the flash to recharge, the time in between flashes. At weaker powers, the recycle time is very quick, but at higher powers, the recycle time starts to slow down. How long it takes will vary depending on your batteries and your flash.
Written by Spencer Seastrom
Image credit: janmika / 123RF Stock Photo