Press fedora with built-in flash


A really geeky idea: A fedora (common hat of the classic press photographer's uniform) or other hat with a built in remote controlled flash unit in it.

As photographers know, on-camera flash sucks. You get no shadows, and the people look like washed out deer caught in the headlights. If the flash is really close to the lens as it is in small point and shoot cameras, you get red-eye. The best is to do bounce flash where you can, off the ceiling, or in the studio off umbrellas or through softboxes. Most importantly, the flash is not at the camera. It's typically 20-40 degrees away, and also elevated.

You can't have that walking around without a lovely assistant holding a slave flash. Many pro photographers buy an "L" shaped arm which puts the flash about a foot from the camera, usually above and to the right. If you can't have that you have a hotshoe mounted flash on top of your camera.

I'm suggesting some style of hat you can mount a flash in. This would not be perfect, in fact it would be only a little bit higher than a hotshoe flash. And it would be above your eyes, not off to the side like it should be. It would be controlled by IR, or even better, RF. (I don't know why they don't work out a standard protocol for flash control over IR or RF and just put a transmitter in every camera made, since such circuits, especially IR LEDs, are super cheap.)

In particular, with live preview digital cameras, you can hold the camera away from your eyes. So even though the flash is 8" above your eyes, the cameras can be off to the right, or down low, for better lighting. Of course be sure to have head facing the subject even though your eyes are looking at the camera.

The hat-mounted flash would make the camera less unweildy compared to a big hotshoe mounted one. The batteries and circuits would be inside the hat of course. You could also place the flashtube itself out ont he rim of the hat for more distance, though it would not be so unobtrusive as a hat with a small clear panel at the front. Though you need height -- light from below looks creepy, of course.


I can see this being vaguely useful outside, but inside not so much, since polite people remove their hats. But for casual photographers a bounce/highlight flash on their head would probably give them better shots. You wouldn't even care too much about focussing it or directing it, just about banging out some light, so it could be quite compact - little more than a flash tube and a small mirror around the back. Based on the cheap add-on flashes it would probably weigh little more than the batteries it used. You'd just want expensive low-leakage capacitors since it's unlikely that the user would power it down. And the high-pitched whine that the charger makes would drive me nuts if it was that close to my ears.

As a PJ though, a lot of the time I'm holding the camera away from me because I can't clearly see what I want to photograph. Shots like this one are taken via the time-honoured "hold above head and spray" technique, and the uncropped version of that shot shows several other people doing the same thing with pro cameras ;-) From observation, less than 20% of flash shots involve looking through the viewfinder. So for the working grunts a head-mounted flash might not be very useful.

Outside of course doesn't need this, fill flash is not nearly so bad coming from near the camera. This would not work for everything, but I think you would overtly wear it when photographing, even if that's impolite indoors. So is photographing at the wrong time!

On the head has the attribute that you will auto-point it at the scene most of the time, which would not be true for a flash elsewhere on the body. Of course for bounce flash, that can be easily on camera (it's just an annoying weight on a small camera.)

While it would look goofy, one could also consider some serious contraptions on the head such as a softbox or reflector in a pope-sized hat. You could not readily hold that on the camera, too unweildy. They have an inflatable softbox flash cover I have not tried.

I thought about this too a while back. I use a lot of flash when I am out in bars and clubs and a big tophat would be perfect for this. I wouldn't even mind a sync cable running down from the hat. Do you have any idea who could make something like this. A big tophat - that's the one for me.

Well, if you have infrared control flash, it should not be that hard to make yourself, though you would have to be sure the IR panel is exposed as well as the fresnel/flashtube. Indoors, the IR is pretty bright and will bounce off walls from your transmitter to your flash.

At the higher end, they sell radio controls for generic flashes for use by pro photogs, that could be hidden in the hat, but it may not do the e-ttl common with modern digitals. It would be nice to see a standard protocol in flashes.

i think your damn sexy...hottttt!

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