Sunday, November 21, 2010

Review of the Lumiquest ProMax System

One of the most important things I have learned in my two years of (DSLR) photography is this: always bounce the light. Before, I have always used the flash on my camera as is - it produced a lot of shadows, the nose and forehead of my subjects always blow out and the picture produced is flat out, well, flat. The flash on point-and-shoot cameras made it all the worse with its tiny flash.

So, as long as there is a wall, I bounce my speedlite away from my subjects. I don't usually bounce my speedlite on ceilings because, though that will greatly diffuse the light, it can produce the "raccoon effect" (where there are shadows underneath the eyes of the subjects). So I always proceed with great caution whenever I bounce the light towards the ceiling. (Also, I make sure that the wall I am bouncing my light against is white or off-white, or else the reflected light will create a havoc on your pictures color-wise.)

The problem arises when there is nothing to bounce off, like when I am outdoors. For these situations, I rely on my Lumiquest ProMax system.

The package includes the Lumiquest 80-20, a white, silver and gold bounce cards, plus a diffuser. Everything's packaged in the provided sleeve that is of good quality material and construction. There is a self-adhesing velcro included but I am not very fond of that.

What you do is put the Lumiquest 80-20 on your speedlite. The reason for the name is that 80% of the light will go up through the holes while 20% will be reflected back to the subject. The upward-bound light will serve as the ceiling bounce, but since there is 20% going towards the subject, the raccoon eyes will be eliminated.

If there is no ceiling, like when you are outside, you can use one of the inserts which attaches to the 80-20 via velcro. You can choose whichever bounce card you want, though I prefer to use the gold velcro when outdoors to give my subjects a warm complexion.

Finally, the diffuser will make the light softer further improving the quality of the light.

The problem with flash photography, used without caution, is that the flash tends to blow up spots on a subjects face. It also brings shadows into the picture which could mean a bad thing. (Of course the case would be different if you purposely want the picture to have shadows.) So what I recommend is bouncing the light. For this purpose, the Lumiquest ProMax is a very big help.

Note that the Lumiquest Cinch Strap is not yet included when you purchase the system. This is a big negative in my opinion. I'd like to shy away from sticking things on my camera gear as much as I can.

Highly Recommended.

You can buy the Lumiquest ProMax as a system or you can buy the parts individually:
Some sample shots using the Lumiquest ProMax. The shots with the straight flash were taken with -2 flash exposure compensation. The rest are taken with -1 flash exposure compensation. All shots were taken with the camera set on Manual with aperture of f/4, shutter speed at 1/250s, ISO100. The Canon 7D was used with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens.

For those without Flash:
Lumiquest ProMax System

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