Better Beamer

February 10, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Most times when I visit Tropic World at the Brookfield Zoo, I use my Better Beamer flash extender to photograph various primates. Tropic World in an indoor exhibit. Although there is a large skylight, the lighting level remains relatively low most of the time.

I find that using the Better Beamer along with my Nikon SB-900 flash unit provides some significant advantages for this kind of wildlife photography:

  • It provides fill lighting which helps minimize dark shadows that would otherwise exist from the overhead lighting.
  • The short duration of the flash burst helps to freeze action and sharpen the image.
  • It adds some pop to the colors in the frame.
  • It introduces a catch light in the eyes of the subject which helps bring life to the image.

Setting exposure with the Better Beamer is simple:

  • Set the camera's exposure as you ordinarily would if you weren't using flash.
  • Set the SB-900 to TTL (through the lens metering) mode.
  • Dial in an appropriate amount exposure compensation in the flash depending upon the amount of fill flash desired. I usually start with -1.3 EV and adjust from there.
  • Set the zoom at 50mm on the flash unit.

The Better Beamer is portable and easy to store in my camera bag. I attached the SB-900 to a RRS (Really Right Stuff) flash bracket when using a long telephoto lens to ensure that the light does not get blocked by the lens. The Better Beamer attaches to the flash bracket in seconds.

Here is an example of an image recently captured using this approach:

Red-Capped Mangabey


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