Flash question

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Dmitri, Aug 1, 2009.

  1. Dmitri

    Dmitri No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    (and so it begin...)

    Does anyone use the automatic settings on their flash? I got the vivitar 285 and can't figure why I would ever need it to automate anything for me. Especially with bouncing off or through an umbrella/wall/whatever, am I not better off setting it myself (full, half, 1/4, 1/16)?
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I used the Vivitar 285 and 285HV models extensively for over 10 years,and have found that the color-coded AUTO modes worked very well in many fast-breaking situations covering events,both news, features, and weddings, and all types of indoor social photography. Setting the flash to a manual fractional power, like 1/2 or 1/4 power works quite well in many situations, but when camera-to-subject distances change rapidly,or when using bounce flash, the 285 allows you to get the exposure "right" about 95% of the time,with one shot in AUTO mode, with no need for a test shot or two or three. When used on-camera, the AUTO mode works very well on the 285.

    Using AUTO modes, you can press the test button and get a sufficient light confirmation indication on longer-distance shots, or on shots where you need to bounce the flash a long ways. The 285's AUTO-modes work quite well,and use only as much flash power as the sensor determines is needed. Full-Manual ALWAYS dumps an entire capacitor charge worth of flash,and kills the batteries much faster than using an appropriate AUTO mode for the f/stop and ISO in use, and so those are some of the reasons you might wish to use an AUTO mode. Another scenario is when you need really quick recycling at longer ranges, such as a news event where somebody is going to be present at X location for say, 5 to 8 seconds,and you need a long-distance flash shot and you want to get three frames off in that time; in Manual at full-power, that will not happen, but at the widest aperture at ISO 800 or so, you will get extremely fast recyling due to the Auto Thyristor using only as much flash power as needed. Running the unit off of an external battery like a Quantum Battery 1 or Quantum Turbo will allow you to fire rapid-fire in AUTO mode if needed,much more-rapidly than full power manual will do,and with automatic exposure trimming as subject-to-camera distances change.

    When bouncing the flash off of a wall or in a fixed-distance setup using an umbrella, it makes sense to set the flash power to a manual setting,which is very repeatable. If a particular umbrella set-up needs the flash at Full power manual or half or 1/4 power, then it's perfectly reasonable to set it that way. When using more than one flash, manual setting of each unit is the easiest,surest way to make sure you get the light output you need and want.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2009
  3. isaac alongi

    isaac alongi TPF Noob!

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  4. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well here's the key. Every other setting on the camera is the same providing the lighting doesn't change. However the setting of a flash changes not only with the lighting but with the distance to the target.

    Manual is great if you have the time to do it, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. But if you're at an event trying to take photos of people having fun, there's no time to sit and adjust settings. Maybe the last settings won't work because because the camera angle has changed the bounce angle, or the distance to the subject has changed etc.
    The modern automatic flash settings are amazingly smart.

    So fit the settings to the shoot :)
     
  5. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    Ditto. I use ETTL all the time when shooting in fast-changing, variable environments. Outdoors I'm usually at -2EV, indoors 0 or +1, but that's usually all the thought I need to put into it. It lets me think more about getting the quality of light I want without worrying too much about quantity.

    Manual is indeed great, and is really the only way to get consistent exposures. But when you're short on time, or in a very fast-paced scenario, ETTL/iTTL is likely going to save your butt.
     
  6. Dmitri

    Dmitri No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ok I understand what you're all saying. Guess it's one of those things that seem useless until I actually need it. ;) Thanks for the replies.
     
  7. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Nope. 99% of the time I am in full manual. I like being in control of my lighting, heck even when I use CLS, it is to control the remote flashes manually, not the camera or anything else. This is all part of lighting 101 on the strobist site. ;)

    You are always better off setting it yourself. Besides, your camera cannot control the flash... with the exception of if you are using Radio Poppers or for Canon only, the new mini and FlexTTL transceivers... but those cost a LOT more than a pair of Cactus triggers plus you MUST use OEM flashes that support TTL (read... more money again).
     
  8. snowdog

    snowdog TPF Noob!

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  9. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Mr. Zack Arias is a studio photographer. I have no studio. My flash to subject distance changes when I'm on the floor amongst people who move. Automatic TTL exposure gives me the most consistent light from shot to shot.
     
  10. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree ETTL is great for when your on the move, indoors or outside, and want to get reliable results without having to take loads of testshots. Of course a lot of experience would let you be able to "read the light" to set the flash right but that is a lot of experience we are talking about.

    Also with ETTL don't forget there is a preflash button on your camera where you can manually fire a preflash and get the flash to set its power level (for the camera settings you have selected) to expose correctly for a spot on the scene (centre point). I often use this if the flash is giving out to little or too much power overall for the scene I am shooting
     
  11. Dmitri

    Dmitri No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I assume when it starts taking a long time for the flash to reset itself, the batteries are on the way out?
     
  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Yes, that's usually the situation.
     

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