How much light does CNTL flash "spill" into scene?

Started Jan 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
William Porter
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Re: How much light does CNTL flash "spill" into scene?
In reply to Bart7D, Jan 11, 2013

Bart7D wrote:

It's easy to see the otherwise negligable light now. But how does this relate to scenes you would really like to shoot in real (photographic) life?

A good and fair question, and the quick answer is: rather more than I'd like, but less would make the system completely unusable.

So I just took a couple quick shots that vaguely resemble what I actually do when I'm working.

Abby, lit mainly by the F43 remote off to the left, but with accidental extra lighting from the F20AM control flash on the camera.

In the shot of Abby above, I used the little F20AM as the triggering or control flash on the A99. Photo's not sharp because I forgot I was in manual focus mode, but that doesn't matter to the point I'm making. The F43AM is about 45 degrees off-axis to the left and pointed at Abby's face; it's also in manual mode set to 1/64. Camera settings: Manual mode, 1/80th sec, f/3.2, ISO 200. The F20AM control flash was in its "direct" mode (as opposed to "bounce").

In the next shot, I put my left hand directly in front of the F20AM while I pressed the shutter. The triggering pulse got through and the F43AM fired, as you can see, but the "spillage" or residual light from the F20AM was set up to the ceiling and/or back behind me and mostly lost. As a result, Abby's back, side, and tail are mostly unlit. NO changes made here either to the camera settings or the F43's settings.

When this shot was taken, my left hand blocked the F20's flash output.

Now if anybody thinks that the first shot — the one that's supposed to illustrate the problem — actually looks better, I'd agree, but that's completely beside the point. The point is, if I'm doing a studio shoot, I want to control the lighting completely. I want to be able to light the left side of a model's head and have her face totally dark. Then I can bring in my second light and light the face the way I want it.

I have been able to make do with the Sony system partly because I don't do a lot of studio shooting with multiple flash units and, well, because I'm not the Master of Flash that I would like to be, so I can tolerate a fair amount of sloppiness in the system.

But should even a schlub like me have to tolerate this sloppiness? Although rumor has it that the Nikon flash system is tops, I'm not buying a Nikon D600 because the dust and/or oil on the sensor problem is, to me, simply intolerable. You spend $2000 for a camera, you shouldn't have to send it in for a sensor cleaning every 200 clicks! At least I don't have that problem with the A99. But flash is important. And while the Sony A99 is very easy to love in other respects, this isn't a compact camera where you sort of get the whole package in one box. The A99 (or the A77 or A65) are system cameras, and a vital part of the Sony system simply does not work very well.

Actually I had hoped that the control flash would have ended before the actual shutter opening occurred.

Precisely what I remember happening with the Pentax optical-triggering system. And although I have no experience using the Nikon or Canon flash systems in wireless mode, I've been to seminars where masters were demonstrating them, and I know that they didn't have the problems I'm talking about here in the Sony system.

Will

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