Strobes acting strangely...

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Dubious Drewski, Mar 14, 2008.

  1. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    Hey all. As you know, I just bought the Opus M1002 lighting kit. I've got the m100SR strobes set up and working as slaves, but there's something strange going on. I press my shutter, my camera's onboard flash goes off, and the strobes fire. I can clearly see it all happening properly. BUT no light from my strobes is getting into the photograph (only that tiny bit of my camera's onbard light). The strobe's timing is off, obviously.

    Through playing around, I found out how to make it work. I set my shutter to trip after a 2-second delay. This causes my camera to emit a preflash, and this somehow makes the strobes fire on time and show up nicely in the photos. It doesn't work with the 12-second delay or no-delay, only 2-second.

    Is this normal? Is this how I have to do it?

    (This kit came with zero instructions, which I think is a terrible, inexcusable thing)
     
  2. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    since you are using off camera flash, make sure that you are in fully manual... meaning, while using optical triggers, your camera flash cannot be using TTL flash, it has to be set to manual and to some lower poweroutput to not contribute to the picture but still be strong enough to trigger the optical slave.

    If you are using any kind of IR trigger, you STILL cannot use iTTL, eTTL or whatever it is that your camera uses.

    The problem is the preflashes that the camera puts out.. they are basically "test" flashes that the camera shoots to test and set proper strength for. These pre-flashes set off your strobes and therefore miss the event completely. By the time your shutter opens, the flashes have come and gone. In other words, Elvis has left the building... and you get an underexposed picture.

    Make sense?

    As for the no instructions... its not their place to teach you about the basics of using a strobe, nor is it viable for them to put instructions in there that would cover any and all brands/combinations of strobes and cameras... the manual would be as thick as 2 telephone books... lol
     
  3. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    Heh, yeah. I've been messing around like mad with this gear and I've come to the same conclusion: The flash has gotta be in manual. (It was indeed in PTTL) I just set it way down to 1/32 or 1/64 and it's a nice fill light. And I don't have to have the 2-second delay - good! That didn't even make sense anyway.

    Now I can start to work on understanding actual lighting concepts, instead of technical ones. ;)


    Thank you.
     
  4. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    My pleasure. When this happened to me and I discovered this myself, I breathed a big sigh of relief and then really started to have some fun. ;)
     
  5. Tiberius47

    Tiberius47 TPF Noob!

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    As mentioned above, the problem is most likely being caused by the ttl preflash of the camera's built in flash setting off the strobes. Then when the actual iluminating flash fires, the studio strobes haven't had near enough time to recharge, and thus they don't fire.

    You have three options.

    The first is to use the FLash Exposure Lock button. This forces the camera to fire the metering preflash when you want it to, rather than when you take the picture. Doing this will set the studio strobes off, but because it won't fire again until the flash that illuminates the photo, you can just wait for a moment until the strobes recharge and then take the photo. This time, because the preflash is already out of the way, they will be set off by the flash that actually illuminates the photo. The disadvantage of this is that you have to use the FEL every time you take a shot, and it's easy to forget. it's also a very clumsy solution.

    The second option is to fire the studio strobes without using an optical slave. insytead use a radio slave, such as a pocket wizard or similar. However, they can be rather expensive, and can't be used for anything other than off camera flashes.

    the third, and probably the best option is to buy a hotshoe mounted flash that has a manual mode. Manual mode on a flash is where you dial in the power you want for the flash and the flash fires at that power no matter what. In this mode there is no preflash. So, you just have to set your flash to manual, dial the power right down to minimum (to avoid light from it interfering with your shot) and you can even turn the heads of many of them to face the slave, giving you a bit more freedom when moving around the studio. You can also use the shoe mounted flash in day to day shooting as well.

    ETA: Ah, beaten to it!
     
  6. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You could try using a synch cord instead of a slave.
     
  7. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    What is wrong with using the built-in camera flash to set off the strobes? This works just as well and that way I do not have to pay $100+ for a flash that will do nothing but be used as the trigger for my strobes. ;) As long as you can set it manually, you're gold.

    Sync cord:
    - disadvantage: limits your movement to within it's length, may pull the strobe down if you are not paying attention

    - advantage: if someone else's camera flashes, it won't set off your strobes leaving you to wait until they recharge (a few seconds).

    In a home studio the "el cheapo" method works perfectly and is consistant. If you are taking your off camera lights to an event where there are multiple cameras all firing flash, you are in for a very unhappy evening.
     
  8. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    It's standard studio practice to run all cables from lights down the stand and under/through one leg of the stand. That way if there is any tug on the cable it is applied very low down and it is unlikely to tip the stand. Never run cables directly to the light without taking them under one leg of the stand, or otherwise relieving the strain. Safe practices should be part of any introduction to studio lighting, as far as I'm concerned.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  9. Tiberius47

    Tiberius47 TPF Noob!

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    True, if you can set the built in flash manually, you're set. However, on my Canon 350D, you can't. Really, any flash that can be fired manually will work for that, I just wasn't aware that any built in flashes could be used like that. usually only the mopre powerful flashguns have that feature, at least in everything I've read.

    Incidently, what camera do you have that has a built in pop up flash that can work manually?
     
  10. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Nikon D200. When set to manual, I can set the on board flash power from 1/1 down to 1/128th power outputs.

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/NikonD200/page10.asp

    "
    e3 Built-in Flash
    • TTL
    >> &#8226; Manual <<
    &#8226; Repeating Flash
    &#8226; Commander Mode
    "
     
  11. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, someone else also suggested setting my onboard to manual, but I've already essentially memorized the K10's menu system with how much I've been exploring it - and I don't think my camera can do that. My external flash can, though!

    Once again, thank you all very much. You're always all so helpful.

    I went and bought this 540 flashgun not understanding what any of its features were - but I knew that whatever it could do, I would appreciate. Now I've learned and I can see! - high speed sync, P-TTL, rear curtain sync, Manual mode, it's all been useful so far!

    Who knows what else this thing can do!

    You guys wanna know something embarrasing? I think all of those self portraits I did the other day were solely lit with the light from the modelling lamps. I don't think any strobe light actually ever got into the photos. Gah! I feel like a halfwit!
     
  12. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    We *all* started off from the same knowledge level... zero. No worries.
     

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