I have been experimenting with different Rosco CTO gels. I saw that Ken Rockwell was using a 1/2 CTO gel. It really makes a huge difference when using fill flash outdoors in sunny conditions. You can use it on your on board flash (which is what I normally do when walking around town), or you can simply cover your external flash with it. Though 1/2 its actually too warm for my taste. Maybe its because I live in New Hampshire and not California like Rockwell. I think this is going to end up being a case of the three bears. Read on….
Last week I ordered 1/8th and 1/4th Rosco CTO gels. Cheap and effective. I experimented with 1/8th already indoors and it’s working great. Though I think it might not be enough modification. 1/2 is too much and 1/8th is too little, but I think 1/4th will be just right. I could have saved $6 and ordered only 1/8th and doubled up on it, but hardly worth the savings for the hassle of keeping two layers of gel in place. I’ll post a few before and after photos with and without gel soon.
The gels come in a huge sheet 20 inches x 24 inches – well huge compared to the front of your flash. $6 will go for a really really long time. I chose Rosco because of the recommendation from Rockwell, but there are other brands. Now I’m entrenched with Rosco as they seem to be really good and I can just order more of the same and not have to relearn with a new gel that is slightly different.
The first photo is of my D90 with a 1/2 Rosco CTO taped to the front of it. Amazingly the pop-up still fully retracts without issue. Wonder if Nikon thought this through when the designed the flash head. I left my crappy cut tape in place so you can see the way I actually use it. Looks messy, but works so well.
The second and third photos are of my SB600 with 1/2 Rosco CTO. If you look at the bottom photo you don’t even need tape if you cut it so it slides right in with the wide angle diffuser slot.
I took these shots with my trusty D40, SB400 and my Nikon 35mm f1.8. I did it all on a white sheet with half a tripod (almost a monopod). I held my SB600 diffuser over my SB400. I did not use any gel on the SB400 but the gel shown is 1/2 CTO so it would show up darker. In person 1/2 CTO does not look quite as dark as these photos. Better lights would have made this an easier shot, but if you work at it you can get fairly decent shots without a lot of equipment.
BTW I order (and no I don’t get anything for promoting them), all my photo gear from Adorama and B&H Photo. The three local pro stores in the area have gone under leaving me only Mail order or long drives into Boston. Both Adorama and B&H are completely professional, fast and reliable. If you are a pro you already know who they are because I’m sure you are using them. I’ve been using both for some time now and honestly they are both great. I would love to tell you one is better than the other, but they are both great and I usually mentally split the orders up over time.