Very Basic External Flash Questions - Can You Help

Started Dec 8, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Joseph T Lewis III
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Very Basic External Flash Questions - Can You Help
Dec 8, 2011

I've googled and searched on DPReview but can't find the existing thread I was looking for on this topic. So, I'm posting in hopes some kind soul will take pity on me and give me a little advice on the use of my F42AM external flash. Here's the deal:

I have been asked to take photos of a very very small, short, no-frills wedding ceremony, on Dec. 17th. Bride and groom, parents, grandparents, minister and a couple of attendants. No other guests, cake or reception....just the walk down the aisle in a rent-a-chapel, and the brief ceremony, followed by several group photos immediately after. Money is tight for the family so they can't spring for a pro photographer (I already suggested that; it's not an option).

They have already indicated that they would be content with the quality of photos I can get from my Pany LX5 with inboard flash, based on previous photos at a birthday party. However, I think I can get better shots with my Sony A55 and its F42AM external flash. I'm used to the camera, but I've not had occasion to use the external flash other than random shots around the condo, so I'm not really as experienced with it as I'd like to be.

I'll be using my A55 with a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 lens, and the F42AM flash. From the test shots I've been taking, it seems like the combo works pretty well with the flash in Auto mode, and the camera in manual mode with a shutter speed of 1/80 or 1/100 second (I have shaky hands so a higher speed is better to avoid blur), aperture set to f/8, and ISO of 100 (or higher if necessary, depending on the ambient lighting).

My plan is to get in the chapel as soon as I possibly can. I'll take test shots and and fool around with the ISO to get the exposure right. If the ceiling permits, I'll try bounce flash; otherwise, I'll have the flash facing directly ahead, with the attached diffuser down over the front of the flash to soften it a bit.

Again, my main objective is to get non-blurry photos that aren't too dark or too washed out. I may play around with the aperture a bit but for the most part I just want to take some good clear snapshots. At this point, I'll be happy with the easiest, simplest, least-prone-to-failure approach.

Am I on the right track with the camera and flash settings as described above?

I will continue to take photos around the condo (and halls and party room) over the next week and a half to practice, but would like to confirm that I am at least heading in the right direction.

The other options I have are to use the A55 and its builtin flash, OR my NEX-5N with the 18-55 and its attached small flash.

Any suggestions or advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance for any help you may see fit to provide.

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Tom

 Joseph T Lewis III's gear list:Joseph T Lewis III's gear list
Olympus XZ-1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 EZ Olympus E-M1 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm 1:4.0-5.6 +6 more
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 Sony Alpha NEX-5N Sony SLT-A55
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