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Old Nov 29, 2006, 3:49 PM   #1
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This is another question about getting started in portrait photography.

Since I can only afford one, which is more important: an external flash like the SB-600, or a tripod like the Bogen 3021?
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Old Nov 29, 2006, 3:57 PM   #2
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Depends on your camera and skill level...are you a good, steady hand holder? Do you plan on using studio lights or just the flash? Have you read all the info in the links in the 1st post of the Studio Lighting Forum?
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Old Nov 29, 2006, 4:40 PM   #3
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I apologize, let me clarify.

I shoot with a Nikon D70s and I have a fairly steady hand. I would classify myself as a semi-amateur hobbyist. All I have right now is my camera and a few lenses. I'm brand new to the portrait photography arena and was looking for a first purchase into it.

To be totally honest, I've never used an external flash and have never liked the built-in unit either. I've always tried to use natural lighting. I've read many different articles about flash techniques, but have never been able to try any of them. And what good is head knowledge without practice?

If I bought a tripod I would definitely use it for more than just portraits. I also have a passion for landscape photography, specifically sunrises and sunsets.

There inlies my dilemna. Either choice would offer many new ways of taking pictures, I just don't know which would improve my ability to take portraits.


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Old Nov 29, 2006, 7:17 PM   #4
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If it were me, I would get a good tripod and a 45" 5-in-1 round, foldable reflector. The reflector will provide 70% of all the light you'll need for good portraits (provided you have decent lighting in the area).

For that matter, you can use halogen hot lights in cheap clamp reflectors to help you learn portrait lighting...just use your cameras incandescent WB (or shoot in RAW, like the shot below). The most useful studio gear I have are the light stands, umbrellas & reflectors.
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Old Nov 29, 2006, 8:19 PM   #5
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Kalypso is dead on, the tripod with help in both landscape and portrait photography. I also have a 5 in 1 reflector only 32" but still does a very good job. I prefer reflecting natural light when ever possible even though I also have studio lights, I much prefer to open the windows and use the natural sun light for portraits. A good flash will come in handy too, but since you can't do both at the same time, the tripod is the way to go.
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Old Nov 29, 2006, 9:37 PM   #6
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Thanks for the great input. In light of your suggestion towards a tripod, I have another question.

I am at a loss for which tripod head I should buy. I know I either need a ball or pistol grip head. Is spending the extra $40-$50 worth it?
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Old Nov 30, 2006, 1:30 PM   #7
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I bought a HD Cullman ball head with a quick release plate....hard to beat a good ball head. I can tighten it semi-tight and I can smoothly move my camera for panning & such without a bit of shake. Unless you are hiking, I would recommend a good sturdy set of legs (Bogen makes a nice assortment).
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