Better Birding Beamer
On many of the best bird photos I see in photo forums, I often notice in the technical details "beamer", not knowing what they were talking about, but always wondering how they get such sharp and bright shots.
Well, the "Better Beamer" is a simple flash attachment that will throw a beam of light a long, long ways.
Now, where that beam of light goes is the trick. You have to practice, and shim the "Better Bearmer" so the beam is on target with your camera viewer.
To often the bird your after is in the shadows of the tree limb or leaves. You have a good shot, but too dark (and far), for a fast enough shutter speed. Well, if your Beamer is on target, the bird is in for a surprise. You can more than double your fill flash distance (for a small area). This inexpensive attachment will make a huge difference in your outdoor wildlife photography.
Its's flimsy, and you'll look even more geeky, but it works, so, I use it and like the results.
Reach Out With Light
The Better Beamer is very effective in extending effective flash range. My primary use is to take photographs from the back of the church to the pulpet area (66 - 78 feet). Without the FX-4 I needed to use ISO 800 - 1,000 and 1/60 second for proper exposure, but had problems with jesture blur. With the FX-4 I now use ISO 400 and speeds of 1/250 - 1/400 (with slight brightening in Photo Elements). Blurred jestures are no longer a problem. I use a Nikon 18-200 lens and at full zoom the complete frame is illuminated. The only issue was a loose fit on the flash, which resluted in poor flash extender and lens allignment. I stuck two small velcro tabs an the leading top edge of the holders. The FX-4 is now properly alligned and has a snug fit.
Better Beamer Results
Functionally it works great. It enables much faster shutter speeds, with smaller apertures, at greater distances. The result is sharper photographs. My best example is a photograph of the preacher holding a Bible facing the congregation. The photograph was taken hand held from the very back of the church with the pastor hand holding the Bible and moving it for the congregation to see it. The photograph is so sharp that you can almost read the text. I used a Nikon D80 with an 18-200 zoom lens (resulting in effectively 300 mm) at max zoom and an SB 800 flash. I like the way it disassembles to store in my camera bag. However, the Velcro attachment system to the flash, while it works, is not very elegant. This is sthe difficult to use part.
Does what it promises
I bought this so I could use my SB-600 with my tele lenses while photographing birds in poor lighting.
It is very consistent when used with my 300mm, with or without a tele converter. The normal issues with using a flash applies, of course, but this product definitely does what it promises.
With my 80-400mm zoom it is a less predictable, and even though results can be good at any focal length, it is completely hit-and-miss. A bit more practice might help, but so far I have found it frustrating to use with zooms.
300mm or Longer a Must
I use it when shooting subjects that require use of flash with a telephoto lens. For example, it provides fill-flash when shooting wildlife with a telephoto lens. It also extends the distance of normal flash when using a telephoto. The only downside I've found is that it works best only with 300mm or longer lenses. The device focusses the flash to a coverage so narrow that, with shorter lenses, dark, unilluminated areas appear on the edges of the frame. It's also a little flimsy feeling, but, when used as directed, it works fine.
Gets the light to the subject
Positives: 1) Gets the light to the subject in the 400-500mm range, 2) works best with flash controls set to manual, 3) light weight on camera flash head, 4) packs easily 5)protective case for fresnal screen. Negative: 1) somewhat flimsy on the flash head - hard to avoid becasue of design that makes it light weight and packable. Better used on a tripod than handheld. I have used it with good results on wildlife at night and during day with wildlife in shadows.
Must have item
This thing work great! With my Nikon D-90 (with 630mm lens) and Nikon SB-600 flash it is perfect. The range is fantastic. The TTL of the camera/flash work automatic. Truly lights up the subject. Must have for nature photography. For the price you cann't go wrong.
Product performs well
I use the product as fill flash when photographing birds. It easily attaches to the flash unit with a velcro strip and allows much farther reach by focusing the flash on a distant subject. It folds flat for storage. Great product.
All wild life & bird photographers should be using this product. It will take your photos from good to fantastic. Catch lights are a must for bird photos!!!
Works as advertised
I use this primarily to iluminate birds that are in dense underbrush and are usually quite a distance away and it does a good job.