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  1. #1
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    canuck257's Avatar

    Fill flash with long lenses and the Better Beamer

    I'm looking for feedback on using this combination. I believe Kevin H used it at the Circle B meet. What were the advantages in shutter speed/exposure settings used and what improvements did you see?


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  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Kevin H's Avatar

    Re: Fill flash with long lenses and the Better Beamer

    Colin @cbg had it not me it's called a Better Beamer
    Last edited by Kevin H; 03-09-2017 at 10:48 PM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member

    Re: Fill flash with long lenses and the Better Beamer

    A friend has one. It was sort of a disappointment... it's really flimsy plastic... that's not a lens on there, more like a piece of plastic film...
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  4. #4
    Senior Member

    Re: Fill flash with long lenses and the Better Beamer

    Fill flash with long lenses and the Better Beamer
    It looks like one of those plastic lenses that people used to put in the back window of their RV.

    Fill flash with long lenses and the Better Beamer-1232986635000_427602.jpg

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...C&Q=&A=details
    Last edited by RobV; 03-10-2017 at 12:53 AM. Reason: photo source

  5. #5
    Senior Member

    Re: Fill flash with long lenses and the Better Beamer

    Quote Originally Posted by canuck257 View Post
    I'm looking for feedback on using this combination. I believe Kevin H used it at the Circle B meet. What were the advantages in shutter speed/exposure settings used and what improvements did you see?
    I'm still really learning what it's effects are. Since the fresnel lens is a magnifier, it will give a longer reach with the flash. I haven't had a lot of time in the last week or so to get out with it. One I get a better feel for it, I'll post my thoughts. The one thing I did notice at the M&G with it, was that I could reduce the flash power on birds that were close and just get what was need for fill light.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member
    WayneF's Avatar

    Re: Fill flash with long lenses and the Better Beamer

    I dont have, and have never used a Better Beamer. But the big problem with flash for birders is that a flash simply won't reach as far as a long lens will, for the bird in yonder far tree. A regular full powered flash at even 200 mm has a Guide Number of maybe GN 190 (feet). That means a bird at 60 feet needs 190/60 = f/3.1 (normal flash level, fill flash would need less light). The same picture view with a 300mm lens would be down about 1 stop at its greater distance, suitable for fill, except it still requires the f/3.1. But the 300 mm or 400 mm lens used for birding typically won't do f/3.1. You'd think higher ISO should help, but that increases the ambient light too, requiring stopping the lens down even more (since shutter speed ls limited by maximum sync requirements).

    So the Better Beamer is just a fresnel lens that concentrates the spreading light from the flash into a tighter more concentrated beam, intensifying its light in that smaller area, to have a longer reach with a long lens. The only specs that their web site offers is "for lenses 300 mm and longer" and "increases light 2 2/3 f/stop". BIRDS AS ART.com

    I would imagine any problem would be with accurately aiming it to be same as the lens aim. Guessing that pictures of the front of house from across the street in dim light should help to check the aim.
    Last edited by WayneF; 03-10-2017 at 07:34 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    spb_stan's Avatar

    Re: Fill flash with long lenses and the Better Beamer

    A Fresnel lens is usually just cast plastic but that is how if can be made affordable. It has very small lens sections cast into the surface in concentric rings to focus the light in a parallel beam instead of the natural spread of light at a distance. They can be tricky because the narrow beam, not spreading as you are used to, means it is only effective with narrow field of views, and severe fall off to to the sides. Most would be effective with small birds with 200mm fl but for larger subjects like deer or bear, 300 mm might the widest field of view that is fully illuminated. 3 stops improvement is certain possible on a small subject. They are useless for wide subjects, unless you just need a face highlighted for example. With such a tighter beam, alignment on your camera is critical. Test shots are needed for the distance you are expecting the subject to appear at.

    Edit: IF you know the range where your subject is expected, the simple answer is to set out a speed light or two close to the area, manually zoomed wide. There are low cost alternatives to Pocket Wizards flash controllers with 300 foot range. I use the Yongnuo YN-622n Tx transmitter and YN-622N Transceivers and they have worked flawlessly.
    Last edited by spb_stan; 04-08-2017 at 03:16 PM.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Ironwood's Avatar

    Re: Fill flash with long lenses and the Better Beamer

    I have had a Better Beamer for a while now. I use it at 600mm on my Tamron 150-600. I get a benefit from the flash out at least 40 meters.
    I got the best results using 1/200 - 1/250th shutter speed.
    My dislike, is the reflection in the eyes of the bird or animal. I can post some sample images if anyone is interested.

    I know someone who uses one with his D4 and 600f4 Nikon, some of his Owl shots are outstanding.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member
    spb_stan's Avatar

    Re: Fill flash with long lenses and the Better Beamer

    Using the flash off axis the lens with remote flash controller will reduce or eliminate the light re-radiation from the eyes. That is not always practical for solo shooting, but you can get a similar but less effective reflection using a Circular Polarizing filter. If shooting nesting or feeding animals or birds, a remote flash prefocused on the nest or feeding spot, watering hole etc helps a lot.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member
    STM's Avatar

    Re: Fill flash with long lenses and the Better Beamer

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironwood View Post
    I have had a Better Beamer for a while now. I use it at 600mm on my Tamron 150-600. I get a benefit from the flash out at least 40 meters.
    I got the best results using 1/200 - 1/250th shutter speed.
    My dislike, is the reflection in the eyes of the bird or animal. I can post some sample images if anyone is interested.

    I know someone who uses one with his D4 and 600f4 Nikon, some of his Owl shots are outstanding.
    Are you talking about a catchlight or "red-eye"?
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