November 17, 2017, 12:51:50 PM

Author Topic: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?  (Read 4376 times)

kat.hayes

  • PowerShot G1 X II
  • ***
  • Posts: 39
Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« on: September 10, 2017, 06:49:26 PM »
When needing fill light for someone against bright naturally lit background, or to just fill in shadows on someone's face indoors or outdoors, what is the difference between using a reflector vs. a flash as a fill light in terms of lighting quality? When might one work better than the other?

Thanks!



canon rumors FORUM

Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« on: September 10, 2017, 06:49:26 PM »

ajfotofilmagem

  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • ********
  • Posts: 2157
Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2017, 07:30:22 PM »
Reflector can not create any new light, but only redirects to fill the shadows. The effect is usually subtle, and quite satisfactory in headshots portraits. It's nothing practical with wide-angle lenses.

Flash is actually adding light, which can be adjusted with great freedom if the flash is off the camera. The use of accessories such as diffuser and flash hitter makes its use extremely versatile.

Built-in flash is always there (not in full frame cameras), and you can save an "unplanned" photo. However, in portrait shots it creates harsh shadows.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 07:07:04 PM by ajfotofilmagem »

Talys

  • EOS 7D Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 564
  • Canon 6DII
Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2017, 07:49:08 PM »
Most reflectors are also available tinted, so you can have, for example, a gold reflector (which will warm the light from that angle).

But they're not mutually exclusive.  You can add another strobe and bounce it off a reflector, with or without some light modifier to achieve the desired effect.

Success requires experimentation :)

SecureGSM

  • EOS 5D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 730
Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2017, 10:23:03 PM »
OP was enquiring about the flash as a Fill light situation.
As a fill light, built-in or on camera flash does not create harsh shadows as the intensity of its light is very low vs ambient or Key light. It would merely open up shadows for you.
Speaking of which: Canon FF cameras do not come with built-in  flash.


Built-in flash is always there (in full frame cameras), and you can save an "unplanned" photo. However, in portrait shots it creates harsh shadows.

sanj

  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • ********
  • Posts: 2897
Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2017, 12:34:51 AM »
Situation dependent. But my first choice is a neutral colour reflector, it does not change ambient colour temperature, is softer and subtle. Easier and cheaper.

Zeidora

  • EOS 7D Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 569
Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2017, 01:38:17 AM »
A reflector gives you softer light than an un-modified flash. You can add diffusor to flash, or you can flash away from the subject into a reflector to get softer light. That is what an umbrella does, but can also be done with a speed light and a flat folding reflector or even card-board. Experiment and see what you like for that particular situation.
5D2 full spectrum, 5DsR, a bunch of Zeiss (some other) primes, for documentary natural history, macro, and micro.

Viggo

  • Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II
  • *********
  • Posts: 3055
Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2017, 02:23:07 AM »
I would go for a flash if you don't already have one, and use it off camera. It will do MUCH more for your images. You have much more control of direction and quality of light. You can angle it anyway you want, use as main light and sun as edge light. Freeze action etc.
1dx mkII, 35 L II, 85 L IS, Broncolor Siros 800 L.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2017, 02:23:07 AM »

LDS

  • EOS 5DS R
  • ******
  • Posts: 1039
Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2017, 03:57:07 AM »
Outdoor or whenever using available light, a reflector lets you use the same light for the fill-in. Using a flash you add a light that may not match exactly the main light, sometimes that's subtle visible.

Using larger reflectors, maybe on a windy day, can be more difficult - an assistant and/or stands and sandbags may be needed, usually the reflector needs to be close enough to the subject to achieve the required effect (and sometimes they can get in the way).

A flash, especially camera mounted ones (directly or using brackets) are simpler/faster to use, especially if the subject is allowed to move freely, or the fill effect needs to be quite powerful.

Indoor, unless you're trying to use ambient light, flashes and reflector light quality will be the same (unless toned surfaces of filters are used, of course), and it's mostly a matter of costs, space, desired effect, and other factors, i.e. it may be easier to put reflectors close to somebody's face than lamps.

GMCPhotographics

  • EOS 5DS R
  • ******
  • Posts: 1338
    • GMCPhotographics
Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2017, 04:25:34 AM »
If you are fighting a high contrast situation, such as shooting back-lit into the sun, then a flash is the way to go. It can balance the exposure and the light is usually harsh and also with high contrast. So it'll match and add to the scene.
Indoors, the light will probably be more gentle and softer, so a reflector will be wiser due to the lower contrast.
 

Sabaki

  • EOS 5DS R
  • ******
  • Posts: 764
Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2017, 05:54:56 AM »
Get both, both are staples of the photography style you mention.

As mentioned often in this thread, the reflector has qualities which the flash doesn't but the flash can do so much magic too.

You can use hi speed sync to darken the ambient and the flash to expose your subject. This creates a beautiful separation between model and background.

But I'd say get both. If you're uncertain about the flash, pick up a generic brand for cheap and the reflector, which can be a lifelong purchase and mess about, learn and decide for yourself what works for you
Canon EOS 6D | Canon EOS 7D mkII | Canon EF 16-35mmL f/4.0 IS | Canon 24-70mmL f/2.8 II | Canon 70-200mmL f/4.0 IS | Canon TS-E 24mmL f3.5 | Canon 50mm f/1.8 | Canon 100mmL | Canon 400 f/5.6 | Canon MP-E65

midluk

  • EOS 80D
  • ****
  • Posts: 252
Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2017, 04:02:32 PM »
If you do portraits in the sun, a reflector is a bright constant source of light shining into your model's face. That might ruin the shot due to squinted eyes. Flash is better in those situations.
5D4, 70D+BG E14, EF 24-70 f/4L IS, EF 16-35 f/4L IS, EF-S 17-55, EF-S 10-22, EF 100 f/2.8L IS macro, EF 70-200 f/4L IS, EF 100-400 L IS II, 2x 600EX-RT, 430EX III-RT

Mt Spokane Photography

  • Canon EF 5-1500mm f/1.0L IS
  • ***********
  • Posts: 13680
Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2017, 04:23:30 PM »
When needing fill light for someone against bright naturally lit background, or to just fill in shadows on someone's face indoors or outdoors, what is the difference between using a reflector vs. a flash as a fill light in terms of lighting quality? When might one work better than the other?

Thanks!

Here is a article from one who prefers reflectors:

https://photographylife.com/how-to-use-a-reflector

It depends on what light is available to reflect and how bright the backlighting is.  Direct flash may be needed to overcome extreme backlight.

mnclayshooter

  • EOS 80D
  • ****
  • Posts: 306
  • I love shooting - clay pigeons and photos!
Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2017, 05:56:55 PM »
Get both, both are staples of the photography style you mention.

As mentioned often in this thread, the reflector has qualities which the flash doesn't but the flash can do so much magic too.

You can use hi speed sync to darken the ambient and the flash to expose your subject. This creates a beautiful separation between model and background.

But I'd say get both. If you're uncertain about the flash, pick up a generic brand for cheap and the reflector, which can be a lifelong purchase and mess about, learn and decide for yourself what works for you


+1 - the cost of a set of reflectors is often pretty small.  I've seen them on amazon or from the big east coast internet sellers for less than $15 per set and they're of pretty good quality... at least good enough to play with it to see if you want something different.  Flashes aren't as cheap, but you don't have to have the biggest and best one either, especially if you're just trying to learn/figure it out.  I am no portrait expert, by any means, but I do understand wanting to learn. 
Pull!... click... crap!  Lemme try it again...
Pull!  click... boom... crap! Lemme try it again...
Definition of insanity?

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2017, 05:56:55 PM »

aceflibble

  • EOS Rebel T7i
  • ****
  • Posts: 148
Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2017, 07:14:57 PM »
Flash can, assuming you know how to use it and have appropriate modifiers and opportunity, do everything a reflector can, while a reflector can't do everything flash can. But that's a lot of qualifiers, and a badly-implemented flash tends to look worse than a badly-implemented reflector.

Given the cost of each, it really is worth getting both. That said, if for some magic reason you can only use one, I'd say a reflector is a safer bet for a beginner and flash is the better bet for anyone with a fair bit of experience. But that really is only in the bizarre situation where you can't have both; you'll find the vast majority of photographers use both, often together.

Mikehit

  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • ********
  • Posts: 2149
Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2017, 05:43:18 AM »
Speaking as a flash novice, it is so easy to get it wrong with direct flash. In my (limited) experience and assuming the context of your question the difference is academic because it is easier to control flash that is being bounced off a reflective surface (wall, ceiling, reflector...) - fewer hotspots and more diffuse light.

I look on direct flash as a ore advanced technique (spot, localised illumination) and that is something that a reflector cannot do.


canon rumors FORUM

Re: Using a flash vs. a reflector as a fill light?
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2017, 05:43:18 AM »