sunpak 383 on

Started Sep 30, 2003 | Discussions thread
Mike Fitzgerald Veteran Member • Posts: 9,542
Re: sunpak 383 on

Karma wrote:

So ... I would set it to AUTO and then what? I still don't get it.

For any non-TTL auto flash:

1. Observe that the flash has a dial or scale on it that lists various ISO speeds. Choose the ISO setting that you want to use on your camera (which will most commonly be 100 on an 717 in the interests of noise minimisation).

2. Against that ISO speed, you will find 2 or more "aperture" settings (up to 5 on the more advanced flashes). From these, choose the one at which you wish to shoot. You would choose a large aperture (small f/no.) to limit depth-of-field, or a small one (large f/no.) to maximise it.

NOTE: For each available aperture, the scale on the flash should tell you its maximum working range for direct, frontal illumination of a subject. You will be able to roam freely within that range (e.g. at a party, etc.) provided you don't exceed it. Naturally the smaller apertures will give you less available working range since they require more light.

3. Set the aperture selector on the flash to your choice, and the same aperture on the camera in either Manual or Aperture-Priority mode. To learn about this it's definitely better to start with the camera set to Manual.

4. For general flash-only shooting, set your F717's shutter speed to 1/200" or higher (up to 1/1000"). It's not critical, but slower speeds are more likely to introduce colour and motion blur problems if there's a substantial amount of ambient light.

5. Keeping in mind the maximum distance available to you, just focus and shoot. The flash's built-in sensor will adjust the flash output automatically as distance and subject reflectivity change.


When you tilt and/or rotate the head of a competently designed shoe-mounted auto flash, the sensor remains facing the subject and will still meter the light reflected from it. The main things you need to remember are as follows:

(a) The total path length (range) for the light from your flash, via the reflecting surface, will be much greater than the direct subject distance, limiting your range somewhat at any given aperture.

(b) As well as the effects of the longer light path, the ceiling (or other diffusive reflecting surface) will absorb a certain amount of light.

(c) If the reflecting surface isn't pure white, colour shifts will be introduced into your subject.

(d) Don't get too close to your subject. You're better off keeping back physically and zooming in, instead. This will put the effective light source (hot spot on the ceiling) further in front of your subject and cause (i) less facial shadowing and (ii) less severe light fall-off top to bottom.

(e) It is not uncommon to find a degree of underexposure with bounced shots (more so at close range). This is because of the relative light fall-off towards the floor (more pronounced with lower ceilings) and the fact that the softer but larger shadows will give less "pop" to the image. Compensate for this as described below.

(f) The greater energy demands of bounce will run your flash's battery down sooner. Keep in mind, and carry enough extras.


This topic can range from foreground shadow reduction/softening under hard sunlight, through to night city-scapes with people in the foreground whom you want to light. Various terms have been coined to describe the latter, including Illumination Snap (Sony) and Slow Sync (Nikon and others).

Basically, the flash is set up for the foreground in the same way as for flash-only exposures indoors; i.e. set matching apertures on the flash and camera to begin with. We're talking typically direct flash, or near-direct frontal lighting with a flash-mounted diffuser. To avoid unnatural looking foreground highlighting, you may want to set the flash to a physically larger aperture than the camera (see below).

The main difference is that you should generally use Aperture Priority mode, rather than Manual, so that the camera can set its own shutter speed (at your chosen aperture) to expose adequately for the background . Naturally you'll need to monitor the process to see that the camera has a slow enough shutter speed available, as well as to ensure that you're not risking motion blur in low-daylight fill-in situations. It's often necessary to do a bit of juggling with shutter speeds and apertures. Practice is invaluable.


These are done in all cases by fooling the flash into thinking that more or less light is required by the camera. You do this by setting a deliberate mismatch between the flash and camera aperture settings. Opening up the camera aperture, or decreasing it at the flash (larger f/number), will increase exposure, and vice versa. You can also do it by mismatching the camera and flash ISO settings, but IMO this is harder to keep track of than just tweaking the aperture for a particular shot.

Just for fun, I also have a Nikon SB-26 flash which has an AUTO setting on it, ...

As far as I know the SB-26 will work in an uninsulated hot-shoe. At worst, you might need to insulate all but the centre contact, but I doubt that will be necessary. People have reported using SB-28 flashes on F717s, and this should be the same. The SB-26 will trounce the 383 in terms of available shooting apertures, manual output selections, and power. From the PDF manual for the SB-26 we can arrive at the following:

1. Choose "A" position (flash mode selector). Confirm that "A" appears in the LCD panel.

2. Choose NORMAL position (flash sync mode selector).

3. Set ISO film speed, on the flash, to match what you're using in the camera.

4. Set the zoom head to a focal length not greater than the camera lens's current zoom setting (i.e. at least as wide as you're likely to be shooting).

5. Set the desired aperture in the SB-26’s LCD panel, then set the same on the camera.


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