F58AM Overheat

Started Jun 23, 2012 | Discussions
imlammothion
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F58AM Overheat
Jun 23, 2012

Hi!

is there a workaround for the F58AM Overheating thing ?

I'm doing lots of outdoor daylight model shooting. I use the flash to compesate the shadows. But the flash is constantly overheating

I bought n external battery pack that did minimize a bit the problem put still is very anoying having to stop a shooting secion because of this

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philbot
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Re: F58AM Overheat
In reply to imlammothion, Jun 23, 2012

imlammothion wrote:

Hi!

is there a workaround for the F58AM Overheating thing ?

I'm doing lots of outdoor daylight model shooting. I use the flash to compesate the shadows. But the flash is constantly overheating

I bought n external battery pack that did minimize a bit the problem put still is very anoying having to stop a shooting secion because of this

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Proud A100, A300, A700 and now A77 dSLR shooter.
Ex. s602z, with an Fuji s9500 as backup
Also have a HX9V that i love

I see this all the time on outdoor/studio shoots. Run any mainstream high power flash at reasonable levels and keep shooting for any extended period and they overheat..

You can either use multiple flashes and keep their power output low, or get a proper portable strobe, e.g. Quadra RX...

I had an SB900 for my D5100, that overheated very often when using it on full power at events, its just par for the course..

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Gary Dean Mercer Clark
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Re: F58AM Overheat
In reply to imlammothion, Jun 24, 2012

Alternate between two flashes, swapping out the hot flash and allowing it to cool while you shoot with the alternative flash. Most of us use mono strobes with battery systems for onsite model shoots but it takes assistants to haul and set up the lights and adjust them during the shoot but its my preferred method. I have two Metz flashes as well for smaller shoots and can swap out one for the other if things get too hot.

Good luck!

Gary Mercer
http://www.garymercerphoto.com

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Mark VB
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Re: F58AM Overheat
In reply to imlammothion, Jun 24, 2012

I generally agree with the other comments thus far. But, you don't say what settings you are using in your shoots (particularly ISO and aperture), and how far the models typically are. It's possible you might be able to alter some of your settings to make the flash work less hard, thus reducing the times when it overheats, or prolonging a shooting session before it does.

For example, if you can boost your ISO without using a smaller aperture (which would mean a faster shutter speed), without exceeding the camera's top sync speed, that might help. However, if you are already exceeding the flash sync speed and are in HSS mode, then doing what you can to use a shutter speed within the normal sync mode range might help. When the flash is in high speed sync mode it basically is using a series of pulses within the brief time the shutter is open. While these pulses are each at reduced power, because there is a sequence of multiple pulses for a single exposure it still means the flash is working hard, possibly harder than if you used a shutter speed at or below the camera's sync speed. That would allow the flash to work with only one pulse of light, and possibly at less than full power depending on the overall shooting situation and your camera settings.

Basically, you need to examine if there are ways of shooting that will not tax the flash as much as what you are now doing. If not, the recommendation to alternate two flashes is likely your best alternative, assuming you have a second flash or can afford to get one.

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imlammothion
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Re: F58AM Overheat
In reply to Mark VB, Jun 25, 2012

Hi!

I usually don´t go over ISO 200 with RAW. Since i´m shooting models i need to keep noise levels to the minimal. Models are about 2 to 3 meters from me.

I also use the 16-50 Lens at F.4 to F5.6. It gives me the DOF i need to keep the model all sharp and a smoth background.

I noticed that one of the problems is that on daylight shooting the Sun´s heat has a huge impact on the flash.

I also have a Metz 58AF2 that dosen´t have this issues but dosen´t ofer the flexibility of the Sony

May sound nonsense but i belive that Sony should have but a fan on this

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philbot
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Re: F58AM Overheat
In reply to imlammothion, Jun 25, 2012

imlammothion wrote:

Hi!

I usually don´t go over ISO 200 with RAW. Since i´m shooting models i need to keep noise levels to the minimal. Models are about 2 to 3 meters from me.

I also use the 16-50 Lens at F.4 to F5.6. It gives me the DOF i need to keep the model all sharp and a smoth background.

I noticed that one of the problems is that on daylight shooting the Sun´s heat has a huge impact on the flash.

I also have a Metz 58AF2 that dosen´t have this issues but dosen´t ofer the flexibility of the Sony

May sound nonsense but i belive that Sony should have but a fan on this

The issue is that any of these kinds of flashes are not meant for heavy use.

Looking at the manuals for the F58AM, SB910 and METZ58AF2 how many shots on full power and how long to then wait for cooldown..
METZ 58AF2 - 15 Shots then 10 minutes between
SONY F58AM - 20 Shots then 10 minutes between
NIKON AB910 - 15 Shots then 10 minutes between

Of course, you can't rule out a slightly dodgy unit, but that's easy to check, simply set to manual, full power, and use the test button to fire a shot every 10 seconds and see how many you get without it shutting down..

You could try this with the metz, but be warned, I'm not sure it has full overheat protection, people used to complain of burning smells from the 58AF1..

End of the day, if doing heavy usage, especially at full power, then you should look at the proper portable strobes, e.g. Quadra RX or any of the other popular ones, these are just better on every level, and great for this kind of usage..

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imlammothion
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Re: F58AM Overheat
In reply to philbot, Jun 25, 2012

philbot wrote:

You could try this with the metz, but be warned, I'm not sure it has full overheat protection, people used to complain of burning smells from the 58AF1..

I had a AF1 that did this

End of the day, if doing heavy usage, especially at full power, then you should look at the proper portable strobes, e.g. Quadra RX or any of the other popular ones, these are just better on every level, and great for this kind of usage..

I´ll probably be going this way. My problem is that most times i work alone so i´m trying to keep equipment weight to the minimal and i´ve been getting excelent results using only the F58 with A77 / 16-50 combo

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Mark VB
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Re: F58AM Overheat
In reply to imlammothion, Jun 25, 2012

imlammothion wrote:

Hi!

I usually don´t go over ISO 200 with RAW. Since i´m shooting models i need to keep noise levels to the minimal. Models are about 2 to 3 meters from me.

I also use the 16-50 Lens at F.4 to F5.6. It gives me the DOF i need to keep the model all sharp and a smoth background.

Depending on your end use of the photos, I don't think there's that much difference in noise characteristics between ISO 200 and 400. While you may see it when pixel peeping, it will not appear in prints or normal monitor viewing (unless perhaps you are printing to 20x30 or similar large sizes). You don't mention your shutter speed, and whether at the apertures you use you are in normal sync mode or high-speed sync mode. If you can go to ISO 400 while staying at normal sync shutter speeds, that would allow the flash to "work" less hard for each shot. It still may not be enough to prevent over-heating, but it would delay how long it takes to overheat.

One thing you don't mention, and I didn't ask, is if you are using any light modifiers with the flash. Those also will require the flash to work harder, but if you are using them there may be no alternative to get the "quality" of light you want and are getting with the modifiers. Also, check your flash zoom setting. If you are using a wider setting on the flash than is needed for the lens' focal length, that also makes the flash work harder. If you are using a modifier, such as a diffuser, you might also be able to use a longer focal length setting on the flash which might help (e.g., I usually keep my flash at 50mm when using a Lumiquest Softbox or a home-made bounce card (the latter is for indoor shooting only).

I noticed that one of the problems is that on daylight shooting the Sun´s heat has a huge impact on the flash.

You could consider wrapping the flash in a white/light toned cloth which would minimize this effect. It should be thin enough to allow at least some of the heat of the flash to radiate out. It's hard to say which would have a more adverse effect, the heat of the sun, or a white wrap that might trap a bit more heat while reflecting the sun's heat.

May sound nonsense but i belive that Sony should have but a fan on this

Not necessarily nonsense, but not very practical. Better might be some kind of way to disperse heat build up. But, all similar flash units have similar problems (e.g., Canon and Nikon).

If the problem are not otherwise addressable, and if you want to maintain the portability and small size/weight offered by such flashes/speedlights, your best option may be to get a second flash, and swap them out. You might also try swapping out the batteries when you have an overheated flash. If you've ever removed batteries from a flash after extensive use you'll notice how hot they are (due to the chemical reaction in the batteries). Putting in a new set of batteries and allowing the other set to cool down might help.

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imlammothion
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Re: F58AM Overheat
In reply to Mark VB, Jun 25, 2012

Mark VB wrote:

Depending on your end use of the photos, I don't think there's that much difference in noise characteristics between ISO 200 and 400.

Most of the pictures (the best) are to be printed to in large format. Usually tableaus so i try to keep noise levels to the minimum

You don't mention your shutter speed, and whether at the apertures you use you are in normal sync mode or high-speed sync mode.

Normally i use Aperture mode and use F4 - F5.6 to have a nice bokeh and shallow DoF. Can really tell the shutter speed as that´s auto. Probably should use manual

Most times i know that shutter speeds go up and flash works at HSS (we are talking daylight - Sunset or Sunrise)

One thing you don't mention, and I didn't ask, is if you are using any light modifiers with the flash.

Don´t use them

You could consider wrapping the flash in a white/light toned cloth which would minimize this effect.

Will try this.

Not necessarily nonsense, but not very practical. Better might be some kind of way to disperse heat build up. But, all similar flash units have similar problems (e.g., Canon and Nikon).

Yes, i know. Nikon as adressed this in the SB-910 by increasing the recicle times as the flash overheats

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Rexel99
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Re: F58AM Overheat
In reply to imlammothion, Jun 26, 2012

Yup, overheating with the on-camrera flashes is always going to be an issue, a fan might be a solution except for the power it would consume. I think the 58 is a bit sensitive to the warmth, barely feeling warm to the touch when complaining of overheating...

Warm days or hot nightclubs would make it worse, as does (I found) any hoods or diffusers that wrap around the end.

I dont know if anybody has cracked one of these open, perhaps a heat-sink mod that exposes and transfers the heat our of the unit would make a big difference.

Oh, to add, I am still learning about how the flash actually works in regard to power and exposure. But as I understand, the output would change if you raised the iso, opened aperature using P/A/S modes, but in M it pretty much fires in full. Unless you overide the flash and set it to manual with 1/16 power for example. THis is great to reduce output and heat, but then wont adjust for the conditions... kids getting closer to you, snap and then they are over exposed..

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Mark VB
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Re: F58AM Overheat
In reply to Rexel99, Jun 26, 2012

Rexel99 wrote:

Oh, to add, I am still learning about how the flash actually works in regard to power and exposure. But as I understand, the output would change if you raised the iso, opened aperature using P/A/S modes, but in M it pretty much fires in full. Unless you overide the flash and set it to manual with 1/16 power for example. THis is great to reduce output and heat, but then wont adjust for the conditions... kids getting closer to you, snap and then they are over exposed.

Assuming the flash is in TTL mode, for a given aperture, as you raise the ISO the flash needs to put out less light to provide a "proper" exposure. For each doubling of the ISO the flash works half as hard. Thus, if you go from ISO 200 to 400, the flash needs to put out one-stop less light.

The way the flash controls its output is by the length of the flash burst. At full power (such as a manual, full power burst), the flash will have its longest duration (e.g., something like 1/800 or 1/1000 second). As the flash needs to work less hard, either in TTL mode or if you reduce the power in manual mode, the flash will use a shorter burst of light, down to whatever it's minimum power setting (fastest burst) is. For example, this is how high-speed flash photography of hummingbirds is done - setting the flashes used to reduced power in manual mode to assure a "high-speed" flash duration circa 1/20,000 second or faster).

As you use a faster aperture, the flash needs to work less hard and put out less light. The smaller the aperture, the more light needed and the harder the flash works.

Note that the shutter speed used is irrelevant to the required flash output, as long as you are within the camera's normal sync speed (e.g., for the A77 1/200 with SSS on or 1/250 with SSS off). Within the normal sync mode the flash uses a single burst to provide its lighting effect. If you are in HSS mode (high speed sync - when the shutter speed is faster than the normal maximum sync speed) the flash puts out a series of light bursts to provide the proper exposure. These bursts are very fast, meaning that the effective power level of the flash is greatly reduced, but the flash is working as hard, or nearly as hard, as if it was doing a full power burst because of the number of bursts it has to put out.

If a subject is changing its distance for the camera (or flash if the flash is off camera), then it is best to use TTL mode to adjust for the varying power required as the subject distance changes. However, if a subject is at a constant distance, then you can use manual flash mode, adjusting the power level to give you the desired results for a given aperture.

In either case you control the ambient light setting by the ISO and shutter speed used. Thus, if you can use a higher ISO to give you a faster shutter speed within the camera's normal sync speeds, you can make the flash work less hard for the same given aperture. But, once you go above the sync speed and the flash goes into HSS mode, you are back to operating the flash at higher power (just in a series of bursts rather than one longer burst).

This means that to provide maximum flexibility with your flash, and make the most effective use of the available flash power, you want to use shutter speeds within the normal sync mode and a higher ISO for any given aperture setting (and the faster the aperture the less power required). When shooting outdoors that may not provide much flexibility depending on the ambient light levels if you have to go above the maximum sync speed for a given aperture setting.

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Rexel99
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Re: F58AM Overheat
In reply to Mark VB, Jun 26, 2012

Mark VB wrote:

Assuming the flash is in TTL mode, for a given aperture, as you raise the ISO the flash needs to put out less light to provide a "proper" exposure. For each doubling of the ISO the flash works half as hard. Thus, if you go from ISO 200 to 400, the flash needs to put out one-stop less light.

OK, still learning I guess, and good points...

My issue with this (like using auto modes on a camera) is that the flash makes decisions about the power output, the 58 is pretty good but like a camera may make wrong decisions based on overall light metering.

On a recent fashion shoot for example, I had difficulty defining the flash result because although the model was close and well lit, much of the surrounding background was not, sometimes the flash went brighter, sometimes (due to less background) it didn't, so the results varied. This meant that although the focus of the picture (the model) was normally well exposed, the background varied greatly, sometimes filled, sometimes dark making a fasion shoot set rather unbalanced. Also this meant that adjustung the camera (if i thought the model was over exposed) changed the flash output to compensate...

Setting it to manual mode meant I had a good expectation about what the flash was going to do, but if the model was closer to me (as they walked past me) then they were more or less exposed.
Just something to contend with in these situations.

At the end-of-the-day,

Flashing lots heats it up and causes the overheating problem, something you may be able to manage a little bit but not control or fix.

If I was doing this type of work a lot, and getting paid for it then a second 58 would be my solution, like a spare body, another flash in the kit would be a good backup, or useful for fill lighting...

Thanks for the technicals Mark, adds to the understanding i got from the friedman A77 book.

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imlammothion
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Re: F58AM Overheat
In reply to Rexel99, Jun 26, 2012

Rexel99 wrote:

On a recent fashion shoot for example, I had difficulty defining the flash result because although the model was close and well lit, much of the surrounding background was not, sometimes the flash went brighter, sometimes (due to less background) it didn't, so the results varied.

Yes! i know wath you mean. One of the things i don´t understant is why, when using flash, changing metering to center w. or spot changes nothing.

I know that Nikons do behave this way

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Mark VB
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Re: F58AM Overheat
In reply to Rexel99, Jun 27, 2012

Rexel99 wrote:

Mark VB wrote:

Assuming the flash is in TTL mode, for a given aperture, as you raise the ISO the flash needs to put out less light to provide a "proper" exposure. For each doubling of the ISO the flash works half as hard. Thus, if you go from ISO 200 to 400, the flash needs to put out one-stop less light.

OK, still learning I guess, and good points...

My issue with this (like using auto modes on a camera) is that the flash makes decisions about the power output, the 58 is pretty good but like a camera may make wrong decisions based on overall light metering.

The flash is not making any exposure decisions. In TTL mode the flash exposure is controlled by the camera.

On a recent fashion shoot for example, I had difficulty defining the flash result because although the model was close and well lit, much of the surrounding background was not, sometimes the flash went brighter, sometimes (due to less background) it didn't, so the results varied. This meant that although the focus of the picture (the model) was normally well exposed, the background varied greatly, sometimes filled, sometimes dark making a fasion shoot set rather unbalanced. Also this meant that adjustung the camera (if i thought the model was over exposed) changed the flash output to compensate...

Setting it to manual mode meant I had a good expectation about what the flash was going to do, but if the model was closer to me (as they walked past me) then they were more or less exposed.
Just something to contend with in these situations.

It's a matter of knowing what conditions you are in, how the camera operates in those conditions (with or without flash), deciding what results you want, and finally how best to achieve those results. If in the situation you described the ambient (background) light levels were constant, you probably should have been shooting in manual mode, setting an aperture, shutter speed and ISO combination that gave you the exposure of the background that you wanted (if possible), and then letting the camera control the flash exposure. How large a subject is in the frame can indeed effect how that flash exposure will be controlled. Also, if you have a fairly close subject and a far more distant background, and you are using direct or straight-ahead flash, then yes, the background will be much darker if your ambient light exposure is not enough to expose the background. With the subject further away from the camera (and closer to the background), the background will receive more of the light from the flash.

One potential method of dealing with this, at least to some extent, is bouncing the flash to provide a more even lighting distribution. You might want to take a look at this tutorial on flash photography: http://neilvn.com/tangents/index/flash-photography/

At the end-of-the-day,

Flashing lots heats it up and causes the overheating problem, something you may be able to manage a little bit but not control or fix.

If I was doing this type of work a lot, and getting paid for it then a second 58 would be my solution, like a spare body, another flash in the kit would be a good backup, or useful for fill lighting...

Yup

Thanks for the technicals Mark, adds to the understanding i got from the friedman A77 book.

You're welcome.

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