traveling light in Vegas

Even though most of the tutorial pages here deal with on-camera flash, I don’t limit myself to just using on-camera flash. When I need off-camera lighting or when I need more juice from my flashguns than a speedlight can deliver, I use the Q-flashes made by Quantum.

For this wedding in Las Vegas, I decided to travel light and as an additional flashgun, bring along a single Quantum Q-flash in addition to the two speedlights I normally take along with me when I photograph a destination wedding.  I also wanted the flexibility of wireless TTL control over the flash, and therefore I chose a Quantum T5D-R with the Quantum Freewire Wireless TTL set-up.

In the photo above taken at Red Rock near Las Vegas, I had my assistant hold the Q-flash up high on a monopod and triggered it wirelessly.  This way I could fine-tune the flash exposure from the camera itself.  This allowed me to work faster than having either me or my assistant manually adjusting the flash the whole time.  (Anyone who is interested in my specific settings, the thought process is similar to the explanation here.)  I had the Wide-Angle Diffuser over the Q-flash, to spread the light more widely.

The Q-flash’s flexibility and power really came in handy for this next image.

After the wedding we went to this famous landmark for a big group photo. I had to work fast to keep everyone’s attention since it had been a long day.  Also, the cops had just stopped to move the two buses out of the middle lane … so I really had to shoot fast and nail the few images I took here.

I needed a lot of light, and I needed the light as even from left-to-right as possible – so I had my assistant hold up the  Q-flash T5D-R with a Quantum wide-angle diffuser –  and had her pointing this through a white shoot-through umbrella to get the light spreading more evenly.  In the end I did have to go in to Photoshop to dodge the people on the left a little to bring them up to the same brightness as the rest of the group.  But using a powerful flashgun in this way gave me a very good head start on this image.

So I am showing this here as an example of something simple that you can’t do with a speedlight.  When I need juice! .. and an even spread of light and a set-up that works fast, I revert to using Q-flashes.

For those who are interested in the specific gear, here are the details of the exact equipment :

The camera with the Wireless QTTL Adapter (B&H), on top of the camera,
and the Quantum FW9T FreeXwire Digital Transmitter (B&H), clamped onto the bottom:

The Quantum Q-flash T5D-R (B&H), with the Quantum FW7Q FreeXwire Wireless Digital TTL Receiver (B&H), attached to the side of the Q-flash.  This is a very neat design with the Receiver fitting flush to the Q-flash, and drawing power from the Q-flash itself.

The umbrella clamp is a very simple device, and something I scrounged from my bin of odds-and-ends, so I can’t give you a specific link to it. The flashgun and umbrella clamp is attached to the Manfrotto monopod, via the Manfrotto Quick Release Adapter (B&H).

This set-up is all powered by a Quantum Turbo 2×2 battery, which is attached to the monopod via the Quantum Pole Mounting Clamp.

more equipment reviews of lighting gear

more articles on off-camera flash …

20 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 1Stephen says

    Just looked at the prices of those Q Flashes…pretty high. I’d say these are for professionals. :-)

  2. 3Stephen says

    I know Neil is a professional. :)
    Such equipment would be wasted on me currently, but I can appreciate how Neil uses them. :)

  3. 4 says

    Very generous sharing coupled with your great talent. Regarding your choice of using the Q-Flash, do you utilize its TTL capabilities much or mostly use it in manual? If mostly used for increased power then I’m curious to hear your opinion as to using the Q-Flash over lets say a higher wattage portable like the Norman 400? I plan to add to my lighting arsenal and am considering the Q. Many thanks!

  4. 5 says


    I have 4 Q-flashes, of which 3 are the older T2 / T2D models. I use those in manual mode.

    I occasionally use the single T5D-R on location and then usually with a medium Photoflex Q39 softbox.

    I’m not familiar with the Normans, so wouldn’t be able to give any comparative advice there. But if you wanted more power than 150 Ws then the T range of Q-flashes wouldn’t be sufficient.

    Neil vN

  5. 6Mike Murillo says

    Have you seen the info from Quantum about the new TRIO and Pilot??? Looks Absolutely incredible! Do you notice any benefits of firing the Qnexus T5 with an ST-E2? I’m trying to avoid dropping more $$ on the FW9 and DW23R As I have an ST-E2.

  6. 8Joe romero says

    Do you lift weights? Camera, fast glass, battery grip and transmitter. That sucker looks HEAVY! I’ve never thought of wedding photography as manual labor, but maybe I was wrong. Fantastic website. It’s not often someone at your level gives away so much useful info. I’m bummed I missed the Texas workshops. Looks like one would be a good investment.

  7. 9 says

    Joe .. yup, it’s a heavy piece of gear. That set-up there isn’t so heavy as it might appear, since the Quantum pieces are light-weight.

    But other equipment can take their toll. I started getting tendinitis in my right elbow a year ago from not being careful when wielding a 1Dmk3 and 70-200mm f2.8 IS with a 580 and CP-E4, with just one hand. Being a bit more careful has sorted it out though, but it can be physically demanding.

    Neil vN

  8. 11David Yee says


    I was inspired to buy the Quantum after seeing your photos. I have a question about your large group shot in front of the Las Vegas sign. I assume you set the flash on manual mode? If so, was it full power? Also, what aperture and iso were your settings on the camera?

    Thanks for Sharing,

  9. 12 says

    David, the flash was set to Q-TTL, but in cases like this, I often crank up the Flash Exposure Compensation up, knowing I would then get (close to) full power. It’s faster doing it this way when I need full power, than flip between the modes on the back of the flash.

    My settings here were 1/40 @ f4.5 @ 1000 ISO. FEC at +1 EV.

    Neil vN

  10. 13 says

    Hi Neil,
    Love your site and appreciate all the information you have on here. I am new at this and your really great to have out there , I check your site every few days. Just bought two trios ( waiting on the pilot to be introduced) I was planning on using the two for formals but after seeing this image I am thinking that I can get by with one. would you agree?
    Again Thanks

  11. 14 says

    Jim, I often use only one Q-flash if the family group is small. Let’s say I have 8 people or less in any specific group. But I do use a large umbrella .. 60″ umbrellas. I try not to use the smaller 45″ ones, so the 60″ umbrellas are my default.

    But in the image above, I used a 45″ shoot-through umbrella.

    Neil vN

  12. 15victor says

    Neil, i have the same quantum setup but i’m holding the FW9T to the bottom of the camera with velcro, the clamp you have came with the FW9T? or you bought it separate? if you remember the part name would be great.

  13. 16Frank says

    I am also interested in Victor’s comment regarding how you clamp the FW9T onto the bottom of camera. I also currently use the velcro strips that came with the FreeXWire, which I don’t think is a good solution.

    Since I also use a Canon 5DMkII without battery grip, I currently have a turbo attached to bottom of camera to supply the Quantum Trio I have mounted for quick work, but take it off along with Trio to use the QTTL adaptor in shoe mount attached to FW9T.


  14. 19Joy Oxenrider says


    If we had to..(meaning we only had and SB 900 and and SB 800 and could not afford the Q flashes) it possible to acheive that power when using both of them at the same time pointing in the same direction..? for image #1… I mean to over power the light with the backlit couple.

    THanks so much,

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