I have a question about a sunpak qf30 flash with my D5100. I can only get the flash to fire at full strength once every 3-5 photos. during the other photos it will give a very small flash but not enough to expose the photo correctly. The indicator light on the flash says it is ready to fire and remains that way throughout shooting the 3-5 photos, then once it fire it flashes until it recycles and is ready again. I am unsure if I am doing something wrong or if it is the flash. any thoughts would be great.
I have just searched on Google for a possible answer and found that several people put this problem down to the refresh rate of the flash unit and there is nothing you can do about it. If you cannot afford a Nikon unit investigate Nissin flash units
the differences between a hobby strobe, semi-pro strobe and finally professionally strobe is quite marked.
The problem with small units is recycling times, that is time it takes for your camera to power-up to full power. In basic terms, your flash is fine hobby photography but for anything a bit more challenging you will need a more powerful flash.
I have a good friend Wilma, who shoot weddings, school portraits, school plays etc... with two Nikon D5100 and two Nikon SB600 and she does a fantastic job. So it not necessary to have very expensive equipment but I believe your Sunpak is going to let you down.
Wilma often lends reflectors and such from me but her kit is basic, effective and efficient. WIlma produces professional results, is a great photography with a brilliant eye and never has to take a back step to people with top of the range kit, why because it is the image that matters, not how you got there.
** Some info I brought in from another website.
Big Studio Lights, Not Always The Best Option
Regular studio strobes like the AC-powered monoblocks and pack/head systems are great for studio work. They provide high output, modeling lamps, good recycling time, and allow you to use a number of accessories and modifiers. If you have a little help to get the gear from one place to the other, you can also use them on location, provided you have some external power source (large battery packs, generators, AC power, etc.). They aren’t cheap, but great to work with if you have the budget and they fit your needs.
The Advantages of Flash Units
When I started shooting editorial work, I didn’t have any assistants to help me carry a bunch of studio lighting gear around with me from shoot to shoot. And frankly, I didn’t always have the time and energy to drag my lights to regular portrait sessions either. I needed some way to get good lighting for my shots, without having to deal with the weight and bulk of big lights. After a little experimentation with regular Canon and Nikon flash units, I realized I could get just what I needed with a couple of these placed off-camera.
Check out “How to Shoot Professional-Looking Headshots and Portraits on a Budg...” by Phil Steele.
I also want to point you to some other great resources for excellent on- and off-camera flash tips: You’ve probably heard of Strobist (see David Hobby’s archive of lessons), and you definitely need to check out one of my favorites,Tangents by Neil van Niekerk for great advice and beautiful examples. My eBooks and posts on the subject are always available here at the blog. If you want to see how I’ve used my simple flash unit setup on other shoots here are some fun behind-the-scenes videos of me at work: Band Shoot, Model Shoot, and because there’s nothing wrong with on-camera flash, check out this Editorial Shoot.