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Color Filterama

8/08/08 (new)

the 900 +

Color Filters You Print

Executive Summary:
SB-900: Filter Holder. Odd size. Kinda funny looking. Four filters included with the flash. Three are relatively "so what." One does a great job of adjusting flash output to incandescent sources. Sweet that. But that's as far as they took it. How about some bright colors for backgrounds, rim lights, and effects? Our solution: DIY.

No chance of getting those effect filters from Nikon. They have an optional pack but very few choices within it.

So where are the red, green, blue, yellow, magenta, cyan or grad filters? You make them.

Rather, we made it possible for you to make them. Here's a shot from the DSLR: Nikon D300 eBook that says much:

These color filters are printable. You supply the ink and printable film, we supply the graphics. Then you supply the scissors and detail work, plus a few techniques we outline in the eBook and you have colorful, inexpensive, flexible, dramatic flash gels that expand the usefulness of that SB-900.

Then you get creative. As usual. Grads, color vignettes, splits... all become your own way of making the SB-900 earn its keep.

A set of six twelve (we added a page of grad effects to get you started) are included within the eBook package, primary and secondary colors. You could stack them for greater color effect, but why stop there?

Because they're printed graphics, they're easy to customize. Rollover and click on the image at left. You can make them into whatever you wish.

The eBook directs you to several ink-jet transparency film types and guides you through the preparation and printing process. Tips guide you as to how to use them for the greatest effect.

Nikon's own optional package of extra filter colors is somewhat limited in its range, so when you want more radical lighting, the eBook makes it possible.

Interesting side effect:

The eBook explains how to print them and how to protect your SB-900 filter holder from any ink transfer from film to holder. At the last moment, we tried an additional technique that proved how you can double the density of the color filters.

Since most printers these days are excellent at indexing the paper or film to the exact same place every time, with a careful re-loading of the film sheet, you simply print the filters twice.

You can test how well your printer can do this by printing a type test, then running the same page through again with the same text. Chances are good that it won't be off by more than the size of a period. Our $50 HP printer did a terrific job with a minimum of hand alignment of the film in the feed tray.

Caveats: No they won't fit the SB-800 or 600. Special techniques to protect your gear must be followed from the eBook instructions. You don't want vaporized ink on your filter holder, now, do you? You supply the ink and printable film. Results vary from computer to computer, but then you control the correction process, don't you? Some basic third grade scissor and seventh grade Xacto knife skills are required in cutting out the filters. We think you SB-900 owners will like them, and we encourage you to show us samples of your work with them. Another great product from iNovaLabs, designed to put the hot back into photography.

Still, after living with the SB-900 for a while, our evaluation of it, compared to prior models and other brands of similar-size units:

(so far, so good)

—Peter iNova

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