Skip to main content

Favorite Manual Flashes

Lesson 64 from: Lighting 101

SLR Lounge, Pye Jirsa

Favorite Manual Flashes

Lesson 64 from: Lighting 101

SLR Lounge, Pye Jirsa

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

64. Favorite Manual Flashes


Class Trailer

Chapter 1 Introduction


Why Just One On-Camera Flash


5 Reasons to Use Flash


Common Flash Myths


What Makes Flash Challenging?


Chapter 2 Introduction


Flash-Strobe vs. Ambient-Constant Light


Flash vs. Ambient Light Exposure


Flash vs. Ambient Demo


Flash and Ambient Balancing for Natural Effect


Flash and Ambient Balancing for Dramatic Effect


Flash and Ambient Balancing for Creative Effect


Understanding Flash Duration


Chapter 3 Introduction


5 Common Key Light Patterns


5 Common Key Light Patterns w/ Diffusion & Fill


5 Common Secondary Light Patterns


3 Primary Subject Patterns


Light Qualities


The Inverse Square Law


Inverse Square Law in Practice


Corrective White Balance


Creative White Balance


Chapter 4 Introduction


On Board vs. Hot Shoe Flash


Full Feature vs. Manual Flashes


TTL vs. Manual Control


TTL vs. Manual Recycle Times


Flash Power & Zoom


HHS vs. ND Filters




Chapter 5 Introduction


4 Tips When You Must Use Direct Flash


Bare Bulbing Done Right


Grid Snoot + Direct Flash


Mini Beauty + Direct Flash


Ring + Direct Flash


Understanding Modifiers


Direct Flash + Shutter Flash


Chapter 6 Introduction


Ambient vs. Direct Flash vs. Bounce Flash


Silver Bounce


More Light Silver


Soft White Bounce


Overhead Bounce


Overhead Bounce + Fill


Event Bounce


Chapter 7 Introduction


Natural vs. Dramatic Light


Filling and Refining Existing Light


Coloring Light for Corrective Effect


Coloring Light for Creative Effect


Chapter 8 Introduction


Case Study 1 - Dramatic Sunset


Case Study 2 - Desert Sunset


Case Study 3 - Sinister Headshot


Case Study 4 - Family Portrait


Case Study 5 - Athlete Portraits


Case Study 6 - Working Angles


Case Study 7 - Drag + Composite


Case Study 8 - Less is More


The Good Karma Jar


Favorite Feature Flashes


Favorite Manual Flashes


Favorite On Camera Flash Modifiers


Lesson Info

Favorite Manual Flashes

our five favorite manual flashes. Why am I so loud when I introduce each new video cause I wanna wake you all up, Wake up time for the next video. Okay? Now, I could talk about these flashes forever. And that's why create a little bullet point list of pros and cons with each one. I'm gonna go through them that way. I don't sit here and get super verbose and just talk about gear, because I do like talking about here now, all these flashes, they're like my babies. I love them. I actually you know what? They're not I don't love them all. Some of them are really, really annoying. And they all have their little quirks and so forth. But these are kind of the best that we got. I'm gonna talk about each of them, and I'll let you guys make a decision on which one you want. Okay, so I even have one of my little red headed step Children hidden away in here. Not like an actual stepped out like a red headed step child of flashes hidden away in here. We'll bring him out later on. Okay. Starting for ...

them. Top. My favorite And really, I don't have much bad to say about this guy except maybe one thing, which I do. But this is the Lunar Pro LP 1 80 It's roughly around 200 bucks. Depending, I could get it on sale or not. Let's talk about the pros. Number one is the excellent build quality. I mean, of all of these manual flashes, this probably has the best build quality. It actually feels like something that was not constructed in a place where people are making, like 25 cents an hour. It feels like it was legit. Lee made, and it feels well. And it's also in the price because it's 200 bucks, as opposed all the other ones, but has excellent build quality. Number two. It has a very simple and easy to use interface. It's a fantastic interface. It's all digital. It keeps things simple. I have a plus button to take my power up. I have a button, adjust my zoom. I have a test button. That's it. Just It makes it so simple. It's just a manual flash, and it doesn't try to be anything more or anything less. Number three. I've got a freaking Quarter 20 built right into the side of this thing. 1/4 20 screw thing. Quarter is like the standard size of screws that are on, like say, stands or tripod plates and so forth so I could mount this guy extremely easily distracted the box and most other flashing don't have that. Or you need to put on this little shoe to get it to mount on the bottom. But with this guy, I can do it anywhere I want without this little shoe, and I'm totally good and it's metal, too, So it's not really gonna break anything. It's very secure. Okay, Number four fantastic Wireless range. What do I mean by that? I mean that when you attach a pocket with her to this device has a really great wireless range. Pocket wizards can have issues with certain types of flashes because basically, with distance and the radio transmission, it doesn't get a good signal to the flash. With this unit, we got a good signal. We were testing several 100 feet away and we still got a great consistent signals. This unit, which is a really important thing in Emmanuel Flash because there's not really any other way to trigger at least this system? Some of these have their own radio systems, which will talk about this guy doesn't. So you need a pocket. I need something to be able to trigger it, and it's very compatible. Works very well, Okay? And it also has, ah, two different sink ports, by the way. So I have I have a little ah PC sink right here, and I also have this standard, this little microphone, PC's microphone sink. Jack and I have external power and USB for updates, and so far that's an awesome little flash. Runs on Double A's to has good recycled time of point number five. We have an extra power input, which I mentioned, and it also has a metal hot shoe. Now, generally, most newer flashes should have metal hashes, but some of the older ones they have plastic ha shoes, and they break quite easily, which is pretty doing annoying because then they are difficult to mount. But if it did ever break, you still have your quarter 22 cons. Okay, this guy is more expensive. That's really the Major Khan, my son. You are just too expensive. of a manual flash. It's 200 bucks. But for 200 bucks, you're still half price compared to, say, a mattress, plus a full feature flash. And considering that overall has the best just reliability, quality, ease of use, and so forth is number one on my manual flash list. The only other comment I had was that it required 1/3 party radio system. So there is no looming pro doesn't have their own like radio triggering system that you can get for this. You do need to get, like Poch wizards or radio poppers or something to be able to trigger this flash. All right. Okay, let's go on to our Nikon now. Here. What is this guy? This is the SB 80. Basically, what I've listed here is Number two is an SB 24 as B 28 SB 80. Just any old Nikon flash that has a P C synch port. This guy has a PCC import right here. Okay, so these air great manual flashes and they have stood up Well, incredibly well over time again, Nikon makes fantastic components, fantastic equipment, and they really last for a long time. So what are the pros of this guy. They have really good bill quality. They're reliable, has a simple interface. At least a relatively simple interface still not as simple and intuitive is looming pro, but it's easy to use. It's just a standard manual flash, pretty simple digital interface in the back. They have fantastic wireless range, just like the Lewin probe. They don't have any issues with Poch Wizard Systems and receiving that radio transmission from long distances. You get consistent fires each time. It also has a good recycled time. Okay, but the cons are these are relatively expensive, depending on which unit you get. And I'm gonna tell you can think for that. David Hobby The strongest Actually, David hobbies a fantastic. He's a photographic institution when it comes to stroke, and he's the guy that came with The stroke is blocked. But when David Hobby started talking about these as being great flashes, the prices on them actually went up quite a bit. The used market went from 50 $75 apiece, up to 100 152 $100 apiece. At that price, you're better off with a new lunar probe, but if you can still get these for a decent price. They're fantastic. Manual flash is the only thing is that obviously they're discontinued, so the quantity and the availability of them is kind of running slim. And also, if it breaks, you're kind of out of luck in that point. OK, so that was condom or two is there's no really warranty because you're buying them used and then number three is. It does also require 1/3 party radio triggering system similar to the looming pro. It doesn't have any type of built in radio transmission system, and a lot of these this one does not have. I think it has a metal, Yeah, but a lot of them will have plastic Ha she's which kind of gets annoying. Alright, this one has a medal in the so that would be number two on my list, though. Let's go on to number three. I had such crazy high hopes for the newer TT A 50 and it's still a really good manual flash. I'm gonna tell you why it's good and why it kind of let me down. In some ways, Number one is it's simple to use. It has a very simple interface. It's not again. My favorite interfaces still loom a pro, but this is decent. We have really big digital numbers here, and it's worth showing you guys because it reminds me of those like kind of phones. For senior citizens that have, like the giant two inch large buttons, it's very easy to see. So if you don't have good eyesight, don't worry. You can see this. Fine. Okay, so as a simple interface has great third party wireless range now compared to the Lunar Pro and the Nikon with pocket wizards, it didn't have quite as good a consistency at 203 100 feet. But it still was really good. It's still totally usable. Okay, we also have sink ports on here. This has Let's see, this has a mini phone, Jack. So you will need an adapter to get basically your microphone to be able to fit the little mini phone, Jack. But it does have a sink port, which is kind of my number. One thing. All of these flashes have to have some sort of saying port. Otherwise, you can't trigger them wirelessly if you need to. With a radio triggering system which is all about lighting to one leading 31 But we want to tell you now, so you know which flashes to get. Okay, lets go on so fantastic Recycle times. In fact, check this guy out. This guy has its own little battery system. While all these other flashes basically used Double A's, this guy comes with a lithium ion battery. Not to mention it comes with lithium ion battery, and it's 105 bucks. So that's pretty good. And they boast a full power recycled time of around 1.5 to 2 seconds. That's crazy, considering that on any of these other flashes, we're looking at 456 seconds for the recycle time even more when it comes to the case of our red headed step child that's tucked away in here. But that is an incredibly quick recycled time. There's a down side of that. I'm gonna get to it in just a second. There's also a factory wireless system available. Okay, so we can have a little wireless system that we can attached to this, and it's very inexpensive. I think it's like 30 bucks and you can get the little receiver piece and an actual controller. It's so incredibly inexpensive. So what are the cons of the newer? Well, for 100 bucks, with all of these features, you could probably guess the quality is not gonna be quite there. And, in fact, the wireless system. It's very clunky. It's almost like it's so cheap. You're not sure if you can really rely on it, and it doesn't work OK, but when you get one in your hand, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. The interface that you I that controls on it. It's just it's all manual controls, and it just feels kind of clunky, and you're kind of worried that it could die at any point in time if you drop it. Okay, so the quality of these is not that great. The major major issue that I have with this. It's time with this battery. There are no double A slots for this, meaning that if this battery dies and they say that this batter can do up to 600 shots by the way 600 full power shots, I'm like that, something ridiculous. But if it dies, you're out of luck, so you need to have extra batteries like this on hand. Bad point number two. Their batteries are very inconsistent in terms of quality control. There release an entire batch of these batteries that Onley get about 345 shots before they die. Or maybe you'll get a few more, but they die very quickly. And you really didn't know which batters or which. So you just had to buy lots of batteries. So I have, like, 10 batteries because as they as I find out which ones are kind of duds, I have to throw them. Wayne, If I'm taking these out and shoot, I can't have that happen on a shoot. That makes it very impractical, because now you're taking lots of extra batteries. You're buying lots of extra batteries and you have the warranty them all. Lastly, the whole recycled time thing. Okay, so it re boast this crazy fast recycled time 1.5 seconds. What they don't tell you is that if you flash at full power around 12 to 15 times, it'll overheat. Once it overheats, it slows down the recycle time tremendously. You get back down to a normal recycle time of these guys and oftentimes it can just basically stop. You have to turn it off, have taken battery out. Got to put it back in to get it to go again. So they heat up very, very quickly. Especially if you're firing at full power on your firing repeatedly every few seconds. All right? So don't kind of let all those things. You know, all these features are fantastic on paper, but it just doesn't quite deliver them in a professional manner that I would expect if I'm gonna use this on professional shoots. Alright, that we already mentioned The wireless system is a bit clunky and a bit cheap, and over all this bit lower build quality. But with all that said, it's still number three on my list. Why is it still number three of all the flashes out there? Why, I sell this number three Well, because even with all of its downsides, for 100 bucks, it makes for a pretty fantastic manual flash. It gives you some sort of radio triggering system that you can use they can play with. That you can practice with. It gives you a very inexpensive flash, and you can get batteries for it. and the batteries only like 2030 bucks as well. It's a very inexpensive system with a lot of features available to you to get started with. So as a starter flash. If you're using this on your shoots, that's great. But here's the thing. If you're using it for professional shoots, that's fine. The quality of the light is fine. There's really not any issues with that. The guide number and the power output in everything. That's totally fine. But if you're using a professional shoot, here's what I had to do. I had to have always about five. I would usually take 4 to 5 flashes on a shoot where I would only need 2 to 3 and I would take 10 to 12 batteries and I would have extra, you know, transceivers and have extra everything because as I was testing this on my shoots, I just didn't have the confidence that, you know everything will work out just fine. If I only had one spare, I needed to have constantly additional batteries and additional wireless system because everything is a little bit more flimsy. So it's fantastic to start out on its fantastic toe. Learn with and to get used to shooting everything. When you taking on professional shoot, you're gonna find that you're taking a lot of extra gear just to make sure that when one of them does fail, when a battery goes out or whatever it goes wrong, you have a spare. And that gets a little bit cumbersome, a little bit annoying. So for professionals, I really wouldn't recommend. But starting out. Not bad. All right, let's go into this guy. This is number four. This is the young one Y n 5 63 Another Chinese made flash. Same thing with the Newark. These air Chinese made flashes and again quality. You can kind of tell is just not that great on these. They're very light. They're very plasticky. Not really awesome as far as quality. But this guy is even cheaper than new Earth. 75 bucks uses Double A's, but guess what this has. This has a wireless system built into these This flash. Now it's still Emmanuel Flash. I don't have any full function controls. I don't have, you know, autofocus assists. I don't have all these types of different controls that a full feature flash would have but I do have a built in wireless radio system. That's kind of cool, especially for 75 bucks. The radio system again, if you want to get the controller, is very inexpensive. You can get a bunch of these heads and it's great. It works well. But let's go over the pros and the cons. So number one built in wireless is to number two wireless control of power. That's pretty awesome. This guy also had a wireless control of power, but not wireless control of Zoom on the newer. Okay. Very inexpensive. 75 bucks. It has an external external power output, and it also has a p C synch port for third party radio systems. Okay, what else? Um, let's see. I'm gonna move this guy just I can see it also has a metal hot show in the bottoms of the hot shoes. A little more durable. That's a bit as faras the pros go. The cons cheap build quality. Another thing we had poor third party wireless basically consistency when we're using pocket wizards with us to trigger it was the most inconsistent of all the flashes and triggering. We ran a test multiple times once again. Once we got to around a 30 40 foot range, we would get very seldom triggers. It would be to and consistent to use now, with their own wireless system. It worked much better up. To say a couple 100 feet is really no problem, but with third party stuff, it was having issues, and we even turned off the internal wireless system. We turn it back on. We tried several different things, and this was the worst is far that. So don't get this system thinking that you can eventually use it with a pocket wizard or something else in the future, because you might have issues with it. But if you're using it with just its own wireless system, the young your system and you're doing it for practice. Then again, it's a decent tool. The menu system is the other con that I really didn't like about this. It's very clunky. You can tell there's not a lot of thought put into the way that this menus put together, and especially with wireless and all these different power and control functionality built in, it's just not well enough designed to make it simple to use, so it's gonna be kind of annoying working through the menu system. But it's again 75 bucks, and that's really the whole thing you're like. But it's 75 bucks. Yeah, it's bucks. You can get three or four these with the wireless system and have a full off camera set up for under 40 bucks easily. Okay? And that means that if something breaks, it's really cheap, inexpensive fix once again, fantastic for learning. Fantastic Were taking on shoots. If you're shooting professionally, I would have experts and I wouldn't rely on it on a range. Okay, so if you need more than, say, 100 feet toe, work reliably, probably don't rely on this type of a flashing. All right. Last the vivid are to 85 h V, which I have hidden away because I'm sorry. You're just too ugly to look at, son. This is the red headed step child of Flashes. It is the hunchback of Nor Down of flashes. But here's the thing it made. My list is number five because it still works pretty well. They did a re release of that. This is a flash that was designed 2025 years ago. It was designed a long time ago, and then they did a re release because this was known as just a workhorse manual flash. I mean, you could beat the crap out of them. They were incredible build quality. They just stood up to everything. Now the new release isn't as good quality. They also didn't address certain things that we're going to talk about. But it still works well, and it's still a higher box. And so it's not really bad. And let me go over the pros here. It's incredibly simple. Of all the flashes, it's the most stupidly simple. But the problem is, it's also very clunky. So I think we showed this earlier. This is the zoom functionality. Yeah, that's a bald right there. That kind of sucks. This is the control of power. Have a nice little dial. And it only goes by the way from full power toe 1/16 power. Whereas all the other flashes here, anything that has a digital controls will let you go down at 1 64th 11 28 power. This only go down a 1/16 which means that if you need less power than 1/16. You have to use nd gels to cut the power down. Okay, which is kind of annoying. That's something else that you got to get. All right, so that's kind of annoying, but it's simple to use, has fantastic wireless range of all of these flashes. This the limit pro the Nikon. They have flawless wireless range, and that's what makes it so awesome. Compared with a pocket wizard, you have no issues of consistency. Okay, lastly, my pro number three is that it just It just works doesn't work. It doesn't. It's not like Michael Jordan where it gets the job done, and it does it in a very beautiful fashion. This is more like the, you know, seven foot one guy that just kind of stands by the hoop and just kind of put the basket in a really awkward way. But, hey, he's so tall he gets it in. That's this guy. All right. Now, the cons, your clunky old school interface, it's got a terrible 1/1 full power, recycled time, absolutely terrible. This is one of the things that they never adjusted with it. I mean, given that It's such a bad recycle time. We're never gonna run in issues of overheating, even if it's 150 degrees outside. But it's a very slow recycled time when you're running full power. Okay, What else? It looks like a tank. And like all the other descriptions that we talked about, the modifiers don't easily fit this head. If you look at the comparison of these heads together, this head, like, fits inside of this Forgive me. This this guy could, like, swallow. What is that? A T t a 50,000 same sizes of 5 80 x 630 This guy could swallow. So that means that things like a mag mod really aren't gonna fit over this. So you have to get kind of bigger modified that modifies actually fit over the head. It has a plastic ha shoe, which is kind of crappy. It requires 1/3 party radio system, but it does have really good compatibility with that radio system. It requires a special cable for your radio trigger A using this old I don't know what this is. It's like this dagger pin system. What the heck is this? This is a cable. You gotta buy separate, and it's so sharp that you can actually stab yourself with it. Okay, that fits onto this side, and it adapts it to a regular mini phone. Uh, cable that you plug in your pocket with her. What the heck? I got to get another cable just for this little thing. Um, and and that was it, I think I think I actually mentioned plastic horseshoe twice. I really I really was dissatisfied with the plastic ha shoes, so I felt like it deserved being mentioned twice, but that's it. So it works in a pinch. But again, I put it the very bottomless because I've used it for a long time and it still works. I feel like it needs to be mentioned kind of like an honorable mention guy. But if I have my choice, let's stick with the looming pro or an old Nikon. Those are the two I'd really recommend. If you want. Start playing with wireless systems you want. Start playing with manual flashing that have more features, and you want to save a bit of money and get something that'll work for. Right now. Both the newer and the young are good options. They both have kind of features that are really nice toe have Emmanuel Flash, especially for the price. The vivid are Hey, if you've got 20 four of them lying around somewhere like I do, why not? It works.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lighting 101 Slides

Ratings and Reviews


The best class for understanding light and lighting there is bar none. Pye is an excellent teacher and the quality of the material provides for a rich and very informative experience. Pye breaks down the fundamentals in easy to digest packets and then elaborates as needed. If there is one class that you watch this is it! Worth purchasing and saving for future use. I would also HIGHLY recommend downloading the saving the PDF of slides that accompany the videos. Again, and can't say it enough, this is THE BEST video to lighting on Creative Live. A must watch for the novice and the expert.


Great course, I highly recommend it if you want to become a more confident flash user. Pye is a wonderful instructor and just such a nice guy, it's a pleasure to listen to him

Simon Metselaar

This is the best thing that happened to me since I've been into photography. What a lifesaver. Unfortunately I already payed for some courses that are not Pye, but Pye just nails it. Amazing, and kind of a life hack. Thanks again :)

Student Work