Controlling a speedlight’s zoom head allows you to spread or focus a beam of light. Normally, this is automatic but sometimes you need to take control. Here’s how to take control of a speedlight’s zoom head.

On Camera or TTL Mode

Normally you don’t need to worry about the zoom head. Placing the speedlight on the camera or using TTL will cause the zoom head to adjust based on the focal length of the lens. When you zoom your lens in, the speedlight’s head narrows, allowing for light to travel a longer distance. When you zoom your lens out, the speedlight’s head widens, spreading the light. It’s a very intelligent system.

Off Camera Flash with a Softbox

When placing a speedlight into a softbox, you want to spread as much light as possible. Change the zoom head to a wide setting of 24mm will scatter the light all over the the inside of the softbox, producing a beautiful soft light on your subject. Each speed light has its own way of controlling these settings. It’s usually very simple, but look in your manual to find out how to change the speedlight’s zoom head.

Narrow Beam of Light for Longer Distance

If you need to throw light over a longer distance, change the zoom head to a larger number. Normally this is done without a softbox. Since the subject is far away, the light will gradually fall off, imitating ambient light.

Controlling the Zoom Head on a Speedlight Video