If you are planning on shooting water splashes* one of your primary concerns is flash duration. Usually when shooting high speed, you set your camera to bulb and shoot in complete darkness. When you want to take the photo, you pop the strobe. This makes the flash duration (actual time the flash emits light) act similarly to shutter speed – the longer the flash duration is, the more motion blur you’d get**.
Alex over at Photigy took four strobes to the test, ranging in price and specs to see how they stand up to freezing a water splash. A low res crop of the splash is posted right under the jump with our the name of the strobe which made it. See if you can match the photo to the strobe before watching the film or reading the full post over at Photigy.
Here are the 4 strobes compared: Elinchrom BRX 500 ($675), Photogenic PL1250 500W/s ($495), Profoto D1 Air 500W/s ($1220), Broncolor. The respected speeds according to specs are 1/1500 sec - t.5; 1/1300 sec – t.5; 1/12600 sec t.5 and 1/7000 sec – t.1. And here is the test as Alex describes it:
What was interesting though is to see how these lights will perform in stopping the action, such as a liquid splash. Claimed flash durations were between 1/1300 sec t.5 (Photogenic) and 1/2600 sec t.5 (Profoto), and experience photographers could easily tell from these numbers that it won’t be good for stopping a hi-speed splash action.
However, will it be a noticeable difference between 1/1300 sect. 5 and 1/2600 sect.5? I wanted to test for myself. Plus, it is such a fun to make splashes – why not to make the studio wet one last time (we are moving out).
Now, of course that the strobes range in price, quality and may have other factors you may want to consider aside their t.5 and t.1, but if splashes is what you’re after. this is a crucial decision.
The low res photos below are in no particular order, head over to Photigy for bigger version and to see if you nailed your guess:
*and of course, same goes for splashing milk.
** Strobist has some good info on the technical side of flash durations and on how they are represented spec-wise.