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Thread: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

  1. #1

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    Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Hi,

    I use a canon 400D and a couple of days back I got a new external flash 430EXII (my internal flash got screwed up). So far I have not paid much attention to flash usage and now since I got the minimum ammunition to start with, I started experimenting. It works fine in ETTL mode.
    But the shots with manual mode(non ETTL) is a disaster. Results are very much underexposed. As far as I could make out from the gadget, I am firing the flash at full power (1/1). So I am thinking that the reason for the underexposure is due to lack of sync with the shutter speed. I tried shooting with slow shutter speed (lesser than the max sync speed of 1/200 for my camera), but same result

    What went wrong? Any guesses? Can any body explain some basics on how to use manual flash.. What parameters to take care, what settings to make etc

    Thanks in advance!

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    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Firstly, I don't have a proper Canon flash and just make do with an old pre digital third party flash which means everything is in manual mode. It can work with the Tv camera setting but I prefer full manual; as do a lot of photographers with better kit.

    So I just select the flash strength then set my camera to full manual mode and choose a shutter speed to suit the scene, say 1/200, then choose a suitable aperture and ISO to suit. Possibly F8 and ISO 400, then do a couple of test shots and adjust one or other of the variables until everything comes right. That is the beauty of digital cameras with a viewing screen and histogram.

    It is a bit hit and miss but I've got the hang of it now and tend to struggle if I try auto settings.

    But see what the experienced guys say.

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    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    We've had these types of issues from time to time, and 9 times out of 10 we can get to the bottom of it if you can insert an image into your post with EXIF data still intact.

    If you really are getting full dumps and ISO is the same then your net exposure shouldn't be less. Whilst testing, keep your shutter speed below 1/200th; you need HSS (High Speed Sync) above 1/200th which introduces another variable that we don't need at this stage.
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 4th October 2009 at 10:11 PM. Reason: correct typos

  4. #4

    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    External flash guns are essentially no different to studio flash heads. If shooting in manual mode you need a light meter to measure the flash light. If the flash units have enough power to light the scene and you measure the light correctly then set your camera to suit, you should get a good exposure. I do it all the time with fairly basic equipment and have no problem. A cheap light meter will cost about £80 (but it needs to record flash as well as ambient light).

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    Antonio Correia's Avatar
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    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    ...A cheap light meter will cost about £80 (but it needs to record flash as well as ambient light).
    Such as please ...

  6. #6

    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonio Correia View Post
    Such as please ...

    This one is £128. I bought mine second-hand from a camera shop for £60.

    http://www.warehouseexpress.com/buy-...meter/p1006844

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    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonio Correia View Post
    Such as please ...
    If it helps, I use a Sekonic 758DR - not sure what they sell for overseas though.

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    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    If it helps, I use a Sekonic 758DR - not sure what they sell for overseas though.
    That one looks to be aimed more for Cine/Video use and comes in at £440

    So I guess it'll do way more than needed for a simple stills light/flash meter.

    Nice though

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    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    That one looks to be aimed more for Cine/Video use and comes in at £440
    Are you sure that you're looking at the right one? - they DO have a cine version of it, but my one doesn't have those functions. The nice thing about it is that you can load custom camera profiles into it so that it's calibrated / profiled for 1 specific camera (not 1 specific MODEL of camera).

    Mine was $1000 NZD - which should be about 330 pounds stirling (or less - we usually get creamed price wise).

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    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    This one is £128. I bought mine second-hand from a camera shop for £60. http://www.warehouseexpress.com/buy-...meter/p1006844
    Thank you
    I have never thought at all to buy second hand equipment but it is a good option. I hope.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    If it helps, I use a Sekonic 758DR - not sure what they sell for overseas though.
    I knew it already thank you.

    Yet another investment...

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Are you sure that you're looking at the right one?
    Nope not at all, you mean there's more than one?

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    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Nope not at all, you mean there's more than one?
    About 3 different varients ...

    The 758D is the basic model

    The 758DR has a built in Radio Module for triggering Pocket Wizards (or you can add the module later to give the same functionality) (which is what I did)

    The 758D Cine is has the cinematography functions.

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    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    If it helps, I use a Sekonic 758DR - not sure what they sell for overseas though.
    Hey Colin how often do you use your light meter? I'm already comfortable using my camera full manual but am always looking for a way to make my exposures spot-on, as often as possible. That Sekonic meter looks good, but for the price I'd like to know if it is useful enough to be used all the time, if the results are consistant, and if it makes a noticable improvement over using the built-in meter off of say the sky or other 'typical' metering locations.

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    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Hi Kent,

    I use it for "setup shots" and Landscape photography when the built-in metering goes out of range (eg my recent 12 minute exposure) (with appropriate compensations).

    I use in-camera metering for "out and about" stuff, but one has to remember that it's easily fooled (just point it at a snowman in a snow-filled paddock, or a black cat on a black rug to under or over-exposed by about 2 stops), whereas the incident meter get's it spot on.

    The joy of the 758D series is that you can profile it to the individual camera, but you have to purchase the calibration targets seperately.

    As a lightmeter this the 758D is pretty much regarded as the "ducks nuts" - I don't think you'd be disappointed if you had one. Probably best to have a good poke around the Sekonic website to get a feel for it as a starting point. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have about it.

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    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Thanks Antonio. I am familiar with 'Expose to the right', however it causes a lot of chimping to dial it in correctly. It also dosn't help me at all figuring out how to dial in my flash ratios. A light meter would seem to be able to help nail down everything quickly and accuratly. I was curious though, since they are rather expensive, how often the pros use them, and if they consider them an invaluable tool (even if for only certain situations).

  17. #17

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    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    You can spot-meter the brightest tone in the scene, but you need to up-shift the exposure by 2-Stops from that pount because the camera will meter that (highlight) as a mid-tone.

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    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Quote Originally Posted by KentDub View Post
    Thanks Antonio. I am familiar with 'Expose to the right', however it causes a lot of chimping to dial it in correctly. It also dosn't help me at all figuring out how to dial in my flash ratios. A light meter would seem to be able to help nail down everything quickly and accuratly. I was curious though, since they are rather expensive, how often the pros use them, and if they consider them an invaluable tool (even if for only certain situations).
    Hi Kent,

    Let me put it this way; "In terms of metering, if the 758DR can't do it, then it can't be done".

    For flash you can trigger from a PC connection - you can trigger a Pocket Wizard (assuming you have the model with a radio module fitted) - it can auto-detect flash - it can calculate accumulative flashes. I'll show you % flash in the shot - you can do contrast ratios - you can ...

    If your curious, download the manual and have a read - might be a good starting point.

  19. #19

    Re: Using exernal flash in Manual mode

    Read page 19 of the manual for the 430EX-II Speedlight. It covers shooting with the flash in Manual Mode. It also tells you on the LCD the distance that the flash has to be at the f/stop, lens zoom and power level you have it set for. It doesn't get any simpler than that.

    No Guide #s, no math. wow.

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