I will be fielding your questions here on DEDPXL. While I won’t be going through them at the break neck speed that I did on my Q&A blog on tumblr, this will be a weekly feature here. Some will be video posts. Some will be text/image based. All of them will be informative!

For this post, two photographers are looking for lightweight lighting options for travel and street portraits.

If you would like to get a question answered then send it to me at question @ dedpxl.com. If your question gets answered here on DEDPXL then I will send you a free PDF copy of my book, Photography Q&A. Find it here on Amazon.


Zack Arias

A full time commercial and editorial photographer, Zack shoots everything from bands to CEOs to ad campaigns. A gifted teacher and communicator, he has an uncanny ability to meet and connect with all types of people.

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  1. Chad

    How would an ipad be for on the road traveling? Seems like it should be ok for simple cropping, lifting shadows or simple exposure tweaks but maybe not much else. My laptop died and I replaced it with a Mac Mini which isn’t quite so portable.

    Since getting my X100 I’ve switched to JPEG for 99% of my shooting so space isn’t as much of an issue but still a concern for more than a few days away.

    • Brian Powell

      Why not use a Macbook Air? When I had one, it fit in the side pocket of my ThinkTank shoulder bag — which is pretty small!

      • John Driggers

        Why not use a MacBook Air? Because a MacBook Air screen is atrocious. Tiny colour space, colours shift as you tilt the screen or move your head. It’s a great little laptop for everything EXCEPT photo editing or non-monochrome graphic work. The ipad screen is much better-but managing/editing photos without a file system is a PITA. That may change this fall if they release a new version with retina resolution and a wider colour space. Until then, if you care about your photos, avoid the MacBook Air.

        • DEDPXL Admin

          Not sure if you’ve seen John but the new Lightroom for iPad kicks some ass for doing sorting and quick edits and syncs the changes back to your desktop Lightroom install. Could make the iPad the ultimate culling tool.

        • Zack

          While I agree with you about the screen John I disagree about its value on a trip like this. Yes the screen sucks but it’s a great companion on the road and you can get by with it. While it isn’t for color critical work, it sure will get you in the neighborhood of where you need to be.


        • John Driggers

          LR for the iPad is interesting if you’re willing to buy into Adobe subscriptions. I don’t wanna’ open that can of worms–everybody just needs to make their own choices about that. My choice is no, so I am still going to wait out the fall releases from Apple and hope for an IPS/retina screen on a new macbook air. It would be my dream machine. Until then I’ll suffer through with an iPad for mobile editing. A little Perfectly Clear, Snapseed, and Actual Pixels gets me through my basic needs. I have had more than one horrible experience delivering work edited on an earlier MacBook with a similar screen to the MB Air, so I’m perhaps a little scarred by the experience.

    • Patrick Stubbs

      Hi Chad,

      I spent 5 weeks in Africa last summer, living in a tent. I took the X-Pro 1, and used my ipad for basic post processing so that I could blog as I went. It was great – lightweight and easy.

      I backed up onto ipad as well. Then When I got home I went through the photos again on my usual system. A breath of fresh air! The focus was on the travelling, and I didn’t want my camera gear to get in the way.

      • Zack Arias

        Isn’t that a beautiful thing Patrick? You have the gear that can do the job but you aren’t weighed down with it.


      • Chad

        Thanks for sharing. Sounds like an excellent resloution to our “problems”.

  2. Mars

    Hi Zack,

    What attachment did you use in order to hold the flash sideways on the coldshoe as opposed to the traditional vertical way? Does it give you more even light because its dead centre?


    • Sohail Mamdani

      That LP180 actually has a 1/4 20 mount on its side so you can screw it directly to the swivel adapter and point it straight in to the umbrella…

      • Mars


        Thx Sohail!

      • Daros

        Sweet – are there any other speedlight units out there with the 1/4-20 mount on the side? Or caddies/adapters that will do the same thing to speedlights without the mount on the side?

        • Zack Arias

          @Daros – I haven’t seen any other flashes with a built in 1/4 20 thread. That’s one of the main reasons I moved to the LP180. It’s such a simple thing yet makes a big difference in that it’s one less thing to worry about when you don’t need a cold shoe.


        • Daros

          Thanks Zack. I did a little bit of research on vertically mounting speedlights – and while there are a lot of DIY solutions, I think you’re right – there aren’t really any other units with the 1/4-20 thread on the side. Strange that no other manufacturer has done it yet – it really is a useful option once you think of it.

  3. Alan

    A not too expensive alternative to ‘Stick’ is a Manfrotto 122B backlight pole. It weighs 1lb, packs down to 21″, extends out to 33.5″, and has standard 5/8″ studs with 3/8″ threads at both ends.

    You can usually find these for less than $30 if you shop around.

    • Alan

      And alternatives to the Manfrotto 122B also exist. There’s a LumoPro LP602 backlight stand kit at MPEX for $27. That comes with a fold-out tripod base and a spigot that you can ignore or use as a really low stand.

      • Zack Arias

        Thanks for these recommendations!


  4. Jeppe

    Disclaimer: I love the x100/x100s

    I would not travel the world constrained by one focal length, surely a mirrorless camera with a couple of primes or a good zoom would be preferable. Staying in the Fuji realm, a x-e1/x-e2 with the 18-55mm or 14mm+35mm, or all of them if you can afford it:)

  5. Davis

    “It’s a European Carry-All!”

  6. Gus Samarco

    Last time I went to Brazil, I gaffer taped the heck out of my silver X-E1, I think it not only makes the camera look cheap, it also has an positive effect on subjects when you’re shooting on the street, I guess it looks less “threatening” when someone looks at it. On top of that, customs doesn’t look at it twice.
    Just my very own $0.02

  7. Ben W

    Good stuff Zack, and I strangely feel compelled to say thanks for properly licensing the music and for hipping me to boy eats drum machine… that track is hot fire.

    • Zack Arias

      Photographers get all up in arms when their work is stolen or misused right? Yet many use any old music they want for their projects not thinking they should be properly licensing that. I’m very very very thankful to Triple Scoop for sponsoring this site and letting me use some really great music from their artists. The pricing is right that no one has excuses for not having properly licensed songs in their production. Thanks for noticing.


      • Ben W

        Well, not to blow smoke up your tuchus, but one of the reasons I dig what you dish is that you always do things the right way. And good on Triple Scoop for making it easy. Protecting copyright is important for artists of all stripes.

        I’ve had my music misappropriated before. I’ve been both licensor and licensee, as well. I always choke when I somehow end up on a shoot-and-burn photographer’s site and they’re streaming Coldplay – I know how much that costs, and they’re not ever going to get close charging $99 session fees (or $999 session fees, for that matter). /endrant

        Feels patronizing to say “keep up the good work,” but, uh, keep up the good work. Enjoy yourself over there in Dubai.

        • Zack Arias

          Thanks Ben!


  8. Simon

    Wow nobody has asked!

    What brand of ukulele is that?

  9. Brian Hall

    Perfect. Zack, have you ever carried a Super Clamp when carrying this set up to do street portraits? To maybe clamp it to a street light or building? Or in the case of Promethea (sp?) he could clamp it to a tree in the Amazon.

    • Zack Arias

      Good idea Brian. I think my issue with a super clamp is, while small, they are pretty bulky and heavy for what they are. I know that sounds like it makes no sense but I think I’d rather have some sort of “stick” that is light and straps to the side of a backpack then a super clamp that sits like a rock in the bottom of a bag.


  10. Taury

    Will the dedpxl mug make its way to the store section?

    • Zack Arias

      That is a possibility!


      • Ed Castillo

        I dont want one, I NEED one for work!

  11. Jose Riesco

    Perhaps you should also consider the Radiopopper Nanos. Not only they are smaller than the PocketWizards, but the receiver has a hotshoe built in so you don’t need the cable and they are inexpensive. Perfect for the Fuji X100S. More info here: http://www.radiopopper.com/#!nano/csay

  12. JT

    Manfrotto and Benro and others make monopods with little fold out feet, which make them free standing in good conditions (little wind, good ground) that are OK to use as a light stand/stick (although maybe getting toward a little heavy for one hand) and I reckon you could use them to hold up a tarp tent or similar, if you’re taking one.

    Some have a ball thingo with a fluid cartridge down the bottom for smooth panning – especially good if you shoot video too.

  13. adam

    how is it everything on or near the table has a reflection but carl? is he a vampire?

  14. Francesco

    Great advice, Zack. You picked a question (how to handle off camera flash) that I was wondering about, too.

  15. Graeme

    There’s rumours of Apple releasing a 12″ Retina Macbook Air this year. You might luck out and get a better screen.

  16. AdelphosChaz

    I use the lp180 and OCFGear 3′ coiled cord you mention BUT for a handle I have one of those gorilla pods! Great grip, more flexible than a stick AND the ability to latch it to things when need be and have both hands back to the camera. Throw a LumiQuest Softbox III or some similar mini Softbox that attaches to the front of your lp180 and you’re golden for portable street portraits with lots of versatility!

  17. David Hunter

    Instead of the Pocket Wizards, why not use the Wein Sync link? You simply put the Wein on your hotshoe and put your LumoPro is slave mode. You can still have 1/2000 sync speeds. Less gear. High sync speeds. What can be better? : )

  18. Regina


    How do you attach the flash to the umbrella holder? It’s the first time I saw that the flash can be mounted on its body instead of on the hot shoe part. It looks like it’s more secure.

    Thanks 🙂

  19. David D

    The one nagging question that remains for me is battery power. Camera, flash, and computer all need it. Where you gonna git that in the Amazon?

    So I guess you need to buy and carry lots of batteries and rechargers and enough card space for the X100(s) and rechargeables for the flash and a power strip or two and be ready to make the most of an outlet when you can find one. It’s a lot of weight.

    Would be cool to engineer a solar recharger for the X100 batteries. Seems doable…

  20. Art Cooley

    Zach, are you aware that with the X100s the flash commander mode will trigger an off-camera flash? At least it does with my Nikon SB-26. No need for Pocket Wizards.

  21. Art Cooley

    Zack, sorry I misspelled your name.

  22. Daryl Davis

    I agree with you on the Super Clamp, Zack. I own one myself, but never carry it.

    I’m curious what you use for a stick and how you mount the swivel to it. I looked at the LumoPro backlight stand, but that strikes me as overly long (only collapses to about 18″ – 19″ inches; 12″ seems about right, especially considering the effect of moving the weight farther out), complex (multiple sections), and heavy.

    I notice you use the thumbrest accessory on your X100s. Is it easy enough to detach when you need the hot shoe, but secure enough not to worry about losing? They’re kind of pricey…

    I’m planning to move to the X100s myself soon. I’ve an overseas trip planned next year with the family (wife and 11-year old twin daughters, visiting my wife’s family in Vietnam, be there a month). After our last trip, I really do want to spend some time working with one camera, lens, and lights before we go: I figure it will help hone my vision, and make the camera’s controls second nature. I’ve been a photographer, off and on, for over 30 years– even did my own wet darkroom work–but I’m finally getting serious about rising above the level of duffer.

    Thanks for your two, marvelous websites.

  23. Mr.Smirky

    I’m off for 5 weeks in October and will be living out of a pack. I’ll be on a 500 mile walk in Spain. I purposely bought an X100s for the journey and I do intend to carry an external flash. Given the constraints of trying to keep my pack down below 25lbs. My motto.. “Every ounce counts”. No umbrella, no triggers or wires. My kit will most likely be.. X100s, bungee to attach flash to hiking pole, Lumiquest SoftboxIII, SB-80dx (although if anyone knows of a lighter weight flash with optical sync for cheap I’m all ears), and a strip of leader from slide film to tape over my on camera flash (works well once you understand the limits), iPad w/snapseed for entertaining myself and posting until I get home to the big computer. I put all this in a bag and it’s heavy on my shoulder but it’s as bare bone as I can go.

  24. Gary

    Hi Zack,

    Hope all is well!

    What bag is that?


    • Zack

      It’s a ThinkTank Photo bag from the Retrospective series.