Manual flash settings for film


TPF Noob!
Jul 11, 2008
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I just purchased an SB-25 flash for my Nikon FE film camera. I have shot film for a while with available light but I don't have any experience with a flash. I've read many forums and blogs about using a flash but they all are assuming you are using a digital camera. With film, you don't have the capability of taking a shot and checking histogram and whatever else and adjusting from there. What is the best strategy for getting your first shot close in exposure so that bracketing will get something good? Is it appropriate to set up for the ambient light and then open the aperture a couple stops?
Read the flash manual. They included this information back then. The flash itself should have a guide indicator on it if it is suitable for manual film shooting. Normally with these guides it will ask you to select the film ISO, fire full power, and adjust the camera aperture depending on distance of the subject. This works reasonably well.

But does the SB-25 have an Automatic self-metered mode? This is how I used to use my SB-10 on a Nikon FE. I would just let it do it's thing selecting the aperture it showed on the dial, and after a while you get used to how it will react. If there's enough black background in the picture, close the aperture a stop, if there's enough white, open a stop.
Just looked it up, with that camera it has to be used full manual so its simply a matter of adjusting aperture for the distance, a test roll of film while noting down your settings for each shot is the best way to get it right, process the film and refer back to your notes, an overexposed shot will need the aperture closing down and underexposed needs opening up. Once you have practised on a few rolls it'll be second nature. H
Thanks for the info.

There is an automatic non-TTL setting on the flash, I'll try that. I have some film I will test it with and make notes.
Do you have a meter? That would make things a walk in the park. Pop off a test flash, read the meter, set camera and take picture... simple as that!

If you do not, check out eBay or even a local pawn shop. I saw several good meters for like $20 last year in Montreal... but most every pawn shop has a good assortment of photo equipment.
Hmm...I may have to look into a meter.
Yeah meters would definitely give you a better hit ratio if you have the time. But It's not something useful for fast shooting.

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