Well, as mentioned in an earlier post, nothing is really “required” as such, but, let us look at some gear that will help and will remain useful for quite some time to come.
The pop-up flash on the DSLRs today is probably “the” example of stagnation in technology. This is the worst location a flash could be on any camera…Right on the centre of the lens and low on top of the camera. Quite a few of the high-end DSLRs do not have a built-in flash for the same reason. Keep in mind that we are capturing light and photography is basically all about light!
There is already a ton of information on the net and I will not get into any specific details on this part. If you are really interested in learning more about the flash, it’s working, modifiers and more, here are a couple of sites that I would recommend that you go through.
- Strobist – This is considered to be “the” place to learn about lighting.
- ScanTips – This one has a variety of related information.
Both Nikon and Canon have their own speedlites for their camera bodies. Both use TTL metering to figure out the amount of flash (light) to add to a given scene. Almost all of these branded speedlites are expensive when compared to a variety of third-party hardware. I would recommend that you purchase one that suits your budget and supports i-TLL for Nikon and e-TTL/e-TTL II for Canon. Although manual speedlites from third-party vendors are a lot cheaper, you can always add those as and when needed for a multi-light setup. Most of us would probably start with one speedlite and stay there. TTL speedlites make it a lot simpler to start understanding their purpose and utility.
In my experience, so far, speedlites generally be a lot brighter than ideal by default. You might want to set your flash exposure compensation to around -1 (lower by 1 stop) for most scenarios.
A speedlite TTL cable or a wireless setup is good to have in order to take the flash completely off the camera. Although you can use the pop-up flash on the camera to trigger a stand-alone flash in manual mode, it also implies that your pop-up flash will fire and add to the available light. A cheap light stand might also be a good idea for experimenting with the direction and intensity of light.
After a lot of research, I decided to go with a Yongnuo speedlite for Nikon. They also build the equivalent models for Canon. The online links are under the “Good Deals!” page. After I was comfortable with the flash, I also got the wireless commander and transceiver for the same.