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Panasonic LUMIX G / GF / GH / GX Series
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Old March 31st, 2011, 08:58 PM   #1
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Flash for GH2?

I'm looking to do more photography with this camera and would like to get an external flash. Any recommendations? What about this: http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-Diffuser-Capacity-Rechargeable-Batteries/dp/B0046IJ5OY
Thanks!
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Old March 31st, 2011, 09:50 PM   #2
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Re: Flash for GH2?

Depends on what you're using it for. If you decide to expand and shoot for pay later, you will want something better, for sure.

This unit is better than nothing. Even the units made by Panasonic for the camera are relatively worthless, unless I'm missing something. No ability to use a power pack, horrible recycle times.

I personally would start by looking at the Panasonic unit (around $400) and then try and find an aftermarket with better features. I doubt something exists, but who knows.

My last experience with a flash was with the best Canon speedlight, and I found without a power pack it was barely usable for fast paced shooting. You get what you pay for in a flash unit, and in the accesories that you purchase to go with it.

I personally would not be interested in an inexpensive flash unit.

The trouble with the GH2 is it is not aimed a professional crowd, and therefore the accessories are aimed at hobbyists. You can see this in the reviews for the flash units. One person said "The flash was too bright so I had to use a diffuser". This person had no idea how a flash worked, and this was was typical in the reviews for the Panny flash unit.

I'm glad you brought this up, Patrick, but I'm really disappointed there aren't better flash unit options for the camera. I am shocked there is no option for using a power pack, but this is a consumer camera, so I shouldn't be. I am a bit bummed about it anyway.
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Old March 31st, 2011, 10:52 PM   #3
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Re: Flash for GH2?

Hey, thanks, Jeff. I'm definitely interested in doing it for pay eventually. I've really been getting into photography since I bought this camera. I'm coming from it as a videographer, so I'm not too familiar with flash units. So far I have the stock 14-42mm f/3.5-f/5.6 lens, a Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95, a Canon FDn 50mm f/1.4, and possibly a Canon FDn 100mm f/2.8 if I win this eBay auction :) I also have a Sky filter, Light Craft ND Fader filter, and a Polarizer filter. I would think with these lenses and filters, shooting in RAW, and editing in Photoshop CS5 I should be able to get some pretty darn good pictures with this "consumer" camera. I've seen great photographers take amazing photos with sub-par cams. It's more about skill and know-how than equipment, I believe. Besides, it's not like the GH2 is a point and shoot. I guess I'll have to start researching flashes. When you say there aren't any good flash unit options for this camera, does that mean you have to get a native flash, as in can you not use 3rd party equipment?
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Old April 1st, 2011, 05:19 AM   #4
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Re: Flash for GH2?

Patrick, I was grumpy when I posted last night, and while the comments I made were probably true, I would have preferred to have been less griping about the subject and more specific with solutions.

I thoroughly researched the subject of flash units and studied them for a camera I had two years ago, and my recollections are vague as to what I learned. I don't retain information for long periods of time. I learn what I need to know and then move on and usually forget specifics. At some point I have to relearn everything if I step away from it for awhile, as is the case with flash.

Here is the gist of what I remember: that flash units are like cameras. Someone who knows nothing about cameras, for example, might not understand why a higher end model is better than a cheap one.

Well the same is true of flash units. I don't remember why the good ones are better, exactly. The biggie that I remember is in recycle times. With cheaper models, recycle times are really long. With a better model, you don't have to wait 7-10 seconds between flashes while they recycle.

A battery pack, like the pros carry, enables you to take photos with flash in rapid succession. This can be critical in a run and gun situation, such as a wedding. If you have to wait for your flash unit to recycle, you can easily lose your shot by the time you are ready.

Also, better models allow you to sync flash units so you can use a second flash on a stand set off to the side that is run remotely, which makes a huge difference in quality, especially for portraiture, etc.

If you do weddings you may have seen how a photographer will have a flash unit set up off to the side, etc and it goes off when he snaps photos from 20 feet away, or whatever. Well this is all controlled by the flash unit on his camera, and a remote thingy that you have to buy separately.

The whole setup can be fairly expensive, which is why you don't see rookies with this setup often. Rookies often don't often know the full benefits of this setup either, and their photos will reflect this.

Or they simply cannot afford it. Anyway, the whole idea of expandability is what I look at when I look at flash units.

Then there is the simple issue of power. It the flash powerful enough to use in the sun? For example, for great shots on a sunny day, you actually can need a flash unit for fill to compensate for the sun, and for this you need a flash powerful enough to do so.

Flash can be REALLY complicated to use effectively, which may be surprising but is true.

My suggestion, if this fits with your plans, would be to learn how to shoot in natural light first. No-flash shooting is an art form in itself, and is my favorite look in photography, but I'm in the minority on this.

It also takes more time and demand you learn your camera and how to use available light.

My preference for no-flash is reflected in my lens choices, such as the Canon 85mm f/1.2. With a f/1.2 aperture, I can shoot usable images in low light, and I love that look. Your Voightlander is such a lens and will produce great images in next to no light.

However, at times you really need a flash, despite what your preference may be. Real estate photography is a prime example.

Another thing, some photographers are using steady lights, LED, etc, in lieu of flash, as they like that look better. But that kind of lighting is only good in some situations, not all. For example, who has a steady light powerful enough for outdoor use? Virtually no one at our level, those are $$$$$ and you need a crew, and they still use flash anyway on top of the big lights.

For outdoor shots there is also the subject of reflectors which can make a huge difference in the look of your photos and can elevate your photos close to the level of art when used correctly. But you need an assistant to use them and the knowledge required.

At the price of the Vivitar unit you are looking at, you aren't wasting much money, but if you are going to advance, you will soon realize it's limitations and end up buying something better, and you'll sell the unit for next to nothing. You can save time and money by buying the best and then learning how it works.

I strongly suggest if this is important to you, that you go to Photography community, including forums, reviews, and galleries from Photo.net and start diving in the forums there. They have forums for every photo topic, including lighting, flash, lenses, wedding photography, etc..

The pros there know everything. It is an close-knit community, and I believe the best photographic forum on the net. There are a few grumpy old pros that will come off as a bit impatient with newcomers, but the vast majority are extremely helpful. I have a friend there named William from Australia who remembered me after two years, right down to the details of all of the equipment I was using.

The problem as I see it with the GH2 is it is limited in it's pro accessories, because it is not aimed at professionals, and this is reflected in the flash units.

Hopefully I am wrong and there are powerful and versatile flash units available that I don't know about. Or maybe the Panasonic unit will accommodate a battery pack, and I just missed it.
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Old April 1st, 2011, 05:36 AM   #5
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Re: Flash for GH2?

I had my GH2 for over a week before I even realised that it has a flash unit built in:-) It's surprisingly powerful too & very effective at night in combination with cranking up the ISO. OK, it's an on camera unit so doesn't produce the most flattering images but it's better than nothing. The fact that it even has a flash means that you can easily use it to trigger slave flash units.
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Old April 1st, 2011, 05:42 AM   #6
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Re: Flash for GH2?

So you can use it with slave units? That is great...
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Old April 1st, 2011, 07:09 AM   #7
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Re: Flash for GH2?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Harper View Post
So you can use it with slave units? That is great...
Optical slave units. The sort of units that are triggered by a flash e.g. Nikon SB-80dx It's no big deal to have to use a Pocket Wizard type wireless triggering unit but it does keep it simple using the built-in flash with optical slaves
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