I have a home studio which is not small, but also not that large. I own a couple of flash heads, ranging from 150Ws to 400Ws. My most used flashes are Linkstar ones of 250Ws and 400Ws.
Linkstar LF-250 with Yongnuo YN-622C
I shoot mostly portraits and like low diaphragm settings like f/2.8 (or lower with fixed focal length lenses) to get depth of focus effects where the eyes are sharp, but sharpness quickly falls off when you look at hair or the body. That effect has always been one of my big incentives to switch from simple small cameras to larger, fullframe camera bodies. Currently my main body is a Canon EOS 6D, which features a fullframe sensor, and lots of light sensitivity.
The flashes in my studio generate quite a bit of light, and especially when balancing multiple lights it’s easy to get more light than really desired to stay low enough to be able to use something like f/2.8, even if you lower the ISO to 50. Also, as 100 ISO is probably the ‘native’ mode for the sensor, I like to stay up there. But what to do with the abundance of light?
When I started out, I used cable to flash. I quickly turned to wireless triggers, a Cactus v5 set. The maximum (or should I say minimum) exposure time is around 1/180s for Canon upto 1/250s for Nikon, depending on the model a bit.
To keep light under control, I then turned to ND-filters. A stop of 3 or 4 can give you a lot of control in this small environment, but the downside is that your viewer also gets darker, and your automatic focus suffers to the same degree. Fortunately the 6D has excellent focusing skills, but still, it was less than perfect.
Then lately I discovered the Yongnuo YN-622C E-TTL wireless remote triggers. The ‘C’ stands for Canon btw, but there is a version for Nikon as well. These talk TTL to the Canon body, which means you suddenly get HSS – High Speed Sync. In layman’s terms this means that you can finally dive under those 1/180s times.
Wireless triggers capable of talking E-TTL to the body
I really discovered them when buying an outdoor kit; a Jinbei Discovery DC1200 battery flash unit. To get these to do HSS, you need to connect them with a small cable, instead of using the triggers supplied by Jinbei. If you use the built-in remote trigger, you can’t do High Speed Sync. It took a while for me to figure that out.
After that I noticed that the same method works with my fairly standard Linkstar LF-250 and LF-400 flashes. I could get rid of the ND filters (which will only give you less sharpness if they get dirty) and just use 1/4000s if I wanted to (the 6D doesn’t go any quicker than that).
So now the 400Ws power is no longer an issue, and I can shoot upto f/1.4 without problems in my 5x5m studio.