We never use the flash on our point-and-shoot. It has a way of washing out every image we take. But [Joey] has a different solution to the problem. He shows us how to make a papercraft flash reflector that will still light up your subject without washing out everything in the foreground.
[Joey] is perfectly aware that at first glance it would seem you need to have a reflective forehead for this to work. But the reflector is actually set up to aim the flash toward the ceiling. Since most ceilings are white this will reflect the light back into the room, dispersing it at the same time. His write-up includes a link to a PDF of the pattern. After cutting it out, one side is coated in black electrical tape, the other is left white to reflect the light. The design includes a tab that slides into the hot shoe of his Nikon DSLR to position it in front of the pop-up flash.
Since we’re not high-end camera aficionados it was a surprise to us that the hot shoe that allows a camera to interface with a flash module has changed rather dramatically over the years. Apparently the interface used to be mchanical-electrical in that the camera would use mechanical means to connect two electrodes from the hot shoe. It didn’t matter the voltages it was switching because the camera didn’t have an electrical system connected to the interface. The problem is that connecting a modern camera to what [David Cook] calls ‘legacy’ flash hardware could damage it. So he developed the Safe-Sync to interface modern cameras with older flash modules.
You can see the board which he’s holding up in the image. It includes a lot of nice features, like the ability to be powered from the external flash, or from a battery. There’s also an optional momentary push switch which can be used to test the flash control (or hack it for other purposes). In addition to providing protection with older equipment, this could also be used to interface flash modules from different manufacturers with your camera.
[Adrian] uses his Canon 40D quite often in dark or low-light situations, and found the onboard auto focus assist functionality to be a bit frustrating. In certain focus modes, the auto focus assist light is programmed to turn off once focus has been achieved. He noticed that if his subject moves or the focus point changes before he snaps the picture, the AF light does not come back on to assist in refocusing the image.
To work around this problem, he decided to build a supplemental auto focus assist light that could be triggered at will. He purchased a cheap laser pointer with an adjustable lens, then cut it open to get at the good parts. He mounted it on top of his camera and tweaked the lens to produce an unfocused beam of light that measures about 6” x 12” at five feet.
The laser pointer did the trick – his images are coming out much nicer now that he can easily recompose his shots in low light. While it works great, he’s not completely satisfied with the build, especially with the fact that he has to manually trigger the laser pointer.
Version 2 is in the works however, which employs an old hot shoe to trigger the laser whenever he pushes the shutter release halfway down. According to his blog he is having some timing issues, causing him to capture the laser in most of the pictures he takes. [Adrian] is working hard to correct the problem, and we’re sure he’d appreciate any tips you might have.