SB-600 & Metering


TPF Noob!
Nov 21, 2007
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Yarmouth, ME
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Hi everyone. This is my first posting to TPF. I have a question about metering while using an on camera flash. I recently picked up a SB-600 (I have never used a flash besides the built-in) and have been using it indoors. I've just been playing around, trying different things and trying to figure it all out through trails. The problem I'm having is figuring out the metering. My camera always tells me that I'm going to be underexposed and it seems like the only way I can make corrections is if I take a picture, look at it on my LCD and then adjust my setting to compensate for what I see. This can't be the way that its done, I know its not because shooting film doesn't allow this method. So there has to be an easier way.

Here's my set up that I've playing with:
Nikon D80
SB-600 (on camera for now)
Manual (I don't want to shoot on anything else)
Nikkor Micro 60/2.8 (is what I've been using lately)
ISO 400

I know what other lighting is around also has to be take in to account when metering, but really I just what to have a good since of how my exposure is going to be before I snap the picture. Thanks everyone.
Welcome to the forum.

The camera's built-in light meter only measures the ambient light. So if it's dark enough that you must use flash...and using settings that be OK for the flashed shot...the meter will probably show underexposure.

The flash metering is done separately with a pre-flash and E-TTL metering.

So it doesn't necessarily what you set the shutter speed or aperture to, the flash will give you enough light to get a middle exposure at whatever aperture is set. If you open the aperture, the flash will output less light....if you stop it down, the flash will give you more light...but the result is the same.

To change this, you need to adjust the FEC (flash exposure compensation).

Getting it right, takes a bit of experience. For example, some situations may call for a +1 FEC, while others may look better with a -1.5 FEC.

I like to shoot in manual, when using flash. I set the aperture to get the DOF I want...keeping in mind that a larger aperture increases the range of the flash (or uses less power). The flash will adjust for the aperture that you use, so to change the exposure of the image, you still need to adjust the FEC.

I set the shutter to adjust how much ambient exposure is recorded...or to get some motion blur from the ambient light.

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