Newbie off camera flash advice

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 14,890
Re: Newbie off camera flash advice

FujiFuji wrote:

Thank you again for the tips. I've been manually setting the ISO to 160 (base ISO for my camera), shutter speed to 180 (max sync speed) and apertures ranging F5.6-F11. I've then been setting the flash power to get a correct exposure following your method. With these settings there is no interference from the ambient light.

All these sound good but you should check to make sure your camera will sync properly with any flash or strobe you use. Many times the sync speed will be to high for a non-manufacturer's flash or strobe.

Rather than checking, you can simply use the shutter speed of 1/3 stop slower than the supposed sync. speed. This safety factor is usually all you need.

To test the sync speed aim the flash a white wall. Set the camera to the lowest ISO, f/16 or higher, and to the sync speed. Take landscape orientation images while you adjust the distance and power of the flash or strobe until you get a histogram that almost but not quite reaches the right edge of the graph.

Repeat with the lens at the widest aperture, reducing the power of the flash or strobe until you get a good exposure.

Check an images captured at the above exposures using your image editor. Use the eyedropper to measure how bright the wall is at the center of the image - it should be about 95% - 97% in LR or 235-240 in Photoshop. Now check the top and bottom of the image. If you see any more than a few % difference in LR or more than a difference of 10 in Photoshop your camera is showing vignetting because the flash or strobe is not syncing properly with the shutter.

As an example my Nissin Di866 Pro hot-shoe flash is a very high quality flash, offering features lacking in the Canon 580EX II. It will sync properly with my Canon 7D at all power levels below 1/2 power. Somewhere between 1/2 and full power it stops syncing properly and the images start showing vignetting. I simply use 1/200sec or 1/160sec for the shutter speed and never worry about the flash syncing.

I started to realise with flash that you need to be in full manual mode. With the on camera flash I was using TTL to get the correct exposure but the MS300 obviously doesn't have this. Your tips have been useful here to get a good exposure.

I haven't touched the white balance on my camera much up until this point. Auto works most of the time and I've found that it's easier to correct in post than to mess about in camera for more casual shots. For portraits it makes sense to get it dialled in correctly in camera. It's then easy to save and re-use the settings. I'll be following your tips again - Thanks!

Casual shots are one thing, portraiture is another.

For casual shots I generally use either my cell phone or my Fuji Real 3D W3, both of which are fully automatic. The out of camera images are fine 95% of the time.

When I get serious for portraiture or glamour I use my DSLRs and I want to control everything because I am striving for the best possible quality images.

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Living and loving it in Pattaya, Thailand. Canon 5DS R & 7D - See the gear list for the rest.

 Sailor Blue's gear list:Sailor Blue's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS 5DS R Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX +9 more
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