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Q&A: Flash system for Leica?

Last week I received this email:

Dear Joeri,

I’m a leica M photographer in Australia.  Thank you for your wonderful work on the M system, especially your book on training. Wonderful material and a great help to those wanting to improve their technique and speed.
Could I ask your opinion please:
I currently shoot documentary photography (mainly families) with my M10 and a reflector generally. Sometimes I need to do corporate shots (including staff groups).  What lighting setup do you use for off camera flash/softbox and do you use this with a flash trigger that plays nicely with Leica M?
I am also considering an SL2 with L to M adapter to use with my M lenses (I’m not a fan of autofocus anyway and hate the size of big DSLR lenses) and wondered what your thoughts are on this body  and whether it plays nicely with the same lighting setup as above?  This would make the group shots FAR easier with a lovely EVF (I hate the EVF available for my M10 and prefer rangefinder focussing on that body).
Thanks for your opinion and I genuinely hope to meet you in person one day when travel is a lot easier.  Keep doing what you do for those of us who enjoy photography (not computerised rapid fire auto everything)!
Kind regards
R.
Well R, these are all good questions. I used to work with daylight for many years. Not just because I liked it, but also because I didn’t really know how to work with flashlight. But when I started shooting corporate headshots, I needed a more consistent source of light than just the (indirect of course) sun.
My life got a lot easier when I invested in a high quality, compact flash kit: the Broncolor Siros 800L, which is powered by Li-ion batteries that last a couple of hundred shots, depending on your power settings.  I have two heads, but I often use only one with a reflector in a so called clamshell set-up. You’ll also need a big soft box for that of course. I might do a post on that later. I also use it for the dreaded group shots. See this link: A Leica group shot: how I did it
The Broncolor works flawlessly with the remote that is not meant for a specific brand. It works on the M, the SL, any camera really.
I have no experience with the SL2 yet, but I can honestly say that the SL has made shooting corporate portraits a lot easier and more consistent. The EVF is a delight to use, works perfectly with M lenses (I do all my headshots with the 50/0.95) and there’s no stress at all about rangefinder/lens calibration issues. You don’t need the SL2 for the resolution for that kind of work. The SL has plenty of resolution. If you can find one for a good deal, you’ll love it, I’m sure.
Hope this helps.
PS: the featured image isn’t a head shot, but it does show what you can do with just one light and a big soft box.