How to use Sunpack B3000

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Erik Petersson, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Member

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    Hi,

    among the second hand camera gear that I have, there is a working Sunpack B3000. Would anyone of you give a tip or two how to use it? I have a few Nikons (FE, FM2 etc) and a Zenit ET (SLR). It would be nice to mount it on my FED3 as well, but a special cable would be necessary for that.

    The flash can be set to ISO 25-1000 with slide. There is also a slide that switches the flash between four different modes: M, 1/16, A (white) and A (green).

    I am not sure if the output is variable, or if the different modes only offers help to combine the output with different ISOs and and apertures. Actually, I have only used fully automatic flashes before, so I am a bit lost. It feels stupid to sacrifice a fresh roll of film before having some tips to start with.

    In short, thanks in ahead for any help that you could offer!
     
  2. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Not familiar with the model # but that's never stopped me before.
    M is manual. Focus the lens, look at the distance scale & set the f stop to what the distance scale on the flash tells you.

    1/16 just a guess on this one. It lowers the power to 1/16th of full power. Some flash units used this so the flash would recycle fast enough to keep up with a winder.

    Both A settings work the same way, set your ISO look at the scale, determine your working range & use that setting
    White may be 5-20' and green 5-30'. both allow you to work between closest and furthest distance using one aperture.
     
  3. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Member

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    John, thanks for your reply. Indeed the output on 1/16 is much weaker. That would be a difference of four stops, right?

    What still bugs me is that with a 100 ISO film, and A(green) the flash says f2.8 on a range between 1,4 to 11 meters (4,5 to 35 feet). That is a lot, and several stops less light would hit an object 11 meters away, compared with an object 1,4 meters away. Or is that difference not so large?

    Anyway, I guess I should load an old film and try this out.
     
  4. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Member

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    Another thing, If the flash is directed upward in order to bounce on the ceiling or a wall, one just has to guess distance and aperture, right?

    thanks again
     
  5. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Yep, thats basically how they all work with variations on the color coding and settings. The flash power is controlled by the thyristor circuit. The settings tell you how to set the aperture for your working distance. It's pretty simple really, but these flash units can easily be fooled if the sensor isn't seeing what the lens sees.
     
  6. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    That is the range the flash set to Auto (the green or white A) will able to cope with.
    Get too close, and the output will be too high when using f/2.8. Get too far and the output will not stretch far enough when using f/2.8.

    In between, the electronics will cut off the flash as soon as its sensor has 'seen' enough light. Which is later when the subject is far away, sooner when the subject is close.

    If you happen to have someting close by and far away, neither of which filling the field of view of the built-in sensor, neither will get exposed properly.
    At the same time, the closer subject will get too much, the far away subject will get too little light.
    The joys of automatic flash. :wink:
     
  7. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Member

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    Now things make sense. The sensor would also detect light bounced off a ceiling or a wall. Time for me to load a film and try it out!

    thanks everyone
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I'm assuming that this is the flash you are speaking of:

    http://www.antiquary.jp/shop/image_view.html?image=../shopimages/antiquary/027000000165.jpg

    If so, the flash's auto sensor is that "eye" on the front of the foot. That is what you want to try to point toward your subject so that it can read the light reflecting back.

    It looks to me like the head will swivel to permit bounce off of the ceiling. If so, you can still use the auto function with ceiling bounce, because even with the head swivelling, the sensor continues to point forward.

    You can do the same thing with bounce off of a wall, as long as you turn the flash sideways - again, just make sure to have the sensor pointing forward.

    If you are going to use bounce, you need to remember that the light has to travel a longer distance, and that when it bounces off of a surface, it loses a fair amount of intensity (which limits your maximum distance).

    Hope this helps.

    Matt
     
  9. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    M is manual. With a fixed-power flash, you have to set the f stop according to the guide number, or the scale that is on the flash (which is made based on the GN). The guide number may or may not be different than the specified guide number, and should be tested. A quick way to find out what the stated GN is is to set the scale to ISO 100 and then look at the distance that lines up with f/11 (a relative easy and quick number to multiply in your head). Multiply the two, and that is your theoretical GN. For instance, if 10 feet lines up with f/11, your GN is 110.

    1/16 cuts four stops manually.

    The other two are auto modes. Each one covers a different range of distances.

    Q.G.'s final three sentences should be read and taken as gold. Auto flashes, especially of this type, are as miserable as in-camera reflected meters. Good, perhaps, to quickly save your ass when you have no time, but for little else. The same situations that give less-than-ideal results with in-camera reflected meters will do the same with auto flash. High contrast compositions resulting from light falloff in "deep" compositions are the number one offender. The flatter and more grey the environment, and the less deep the composition, the more accurate auto flash will be. So, go shoot grey cards, and you will be spot on perfect all the time. Shoot anything else in the real world, and you will probably be right on 10% of the time, and have varying levels of "right on-ness" for the other 90%..ranging from "almost right on" to "right off".
     
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  10. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Member

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    Yes, that is the flash I have. The head can only be tilted up and down, so if I compose the picture in landscape mode, it can bounce off the ceiling, and in portrait mode, off the wall.

    I think it might be a useful flash if the sensor still works.

    Can I use it with any camera, or do I have to match certain flashes to certain cameras? I have read somewhere that the voltage (?) of certain flashes is to strong for certain cameras. Just want to make sure.
     
  11. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Member

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    The guide number is 100 feet or 30 meters.

    Ok, the questions keep coming: why would you want to cut four stops of light? I guess that is for fill flash, for example in the open sun.

    The flash may be useful with negative film then, at least until I learn to use it better.

    I really appreciate your answers!
     
  12. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    ...and now you know why TTL flash has taken over big time for on camera flash units. They are less easily fooled, and not usually fooled as badly, but can still be fooled nonetheless.

    Here's a trick that I've found useful for on camera flash, and it's no doubt old hat to many folks here and may be to you too. Point the flash straight up and attach a piece of white card to the flash above and behind the flash head. Some units have a tiny one built in, but I'm talking about something that is like 4" square. This way you get bounce off the ceiling and bounce light off the white reflector. Works well, but it eats up a lot of light. Those white diffusers that fit over the flash tube don't work nearly as well.
     
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  13. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    There are many situations in which you don't want your flash shooting at full power. In fact, I would say MOST situations in the "real world". It works like any other light, and being able to control the intensity is very important in being able to select the desired camera settings to get the desired image qualities.

    The 1/16 power setting is a compromise between a fixed-power flash and a totally variable power flash. As an example of how you might use it, say that your distance scale calls for f/16. However, f/16 will give you too much depth of field for what you want. Take it down to 1/16 power, and you can open up to f/4 and get the same exposure, but less depth of field.

    I have a Toshiba flash that has the same feature, but the switch only kills two stops. The flash has some great features that I wish my Sunpak 555 had: umbrella holder, and PC synch extension socket. It just doesn't have the power or adjustability of the Sunpak.
     
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  14. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    As Frank is getting at, diffused light from small direct source (diffuser on a flash shot straight ahead) is nowhere near as soft or even as reflected light from a large source (flash shot into the ceiling and walls). First of all, reflected light is just plain softer, as it is indirect. Second of all, larger light sources (relative to the subject) create softer light. The size of the light source you get by bouncing into the architecture is second to nothing in indoor situations. The ceiling and walls are the largest possible reflectors that you can use indoors. Take advantage of them! With Frank's card method added to a bounced light, you also get a tiny bit of front fill. The Gary Fong Lightsphere type thingies are actually a pretty sensible design, IMO. You can take the top cap off so the bare flash shoots into the ceiling, and the cone-shaped diffuser provides some front fill. They also give a nice round shape to the light source (like an old round flashgun reflector) when shooting direct-diffused (straight on at the subject through the cap of the diffuser). I like their usefulness and the results you can get from them, but they are quite unwieldy and do not stay on well.

    To do Frank's trick, my preferred reflector is a stack of a couple medium-sized white paper plates. You can also paint them any color, or cover them with various materials, as well as bounce straight into them, foregoing the ceiling.
     
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  15. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Member

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    A lot of things to learn here, I see. With so much to test I might need all 36 pictures on a film roll to go through everything.

    Glad that the flash can be turned down, by the way. I often just want the light to be a little brighter than it is.

    thanks again everyone!
     
  16. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Hi,

    You are obviously stuck with the GN of your flash. You can't make it brighter. You can use a more powerful flash, or a faster film, though.
     
  17. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Member

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    No, what I mean is that I often take photos in available light indoors, and would like to enhance the light level just a little, so that I could get away with a large aperture and a shutter time of maybe a 1/30th. You know, for the situations when the shutter time moves towards 1/15th or even slower.
     
  18. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I see what you mean.

    I often do the same when shooting live music: wide open, barely hand holdable shutter speed, and the tiniest bit of soft flash to raise certain unlit areas a tone or two. Keeps the lighting "natural" over all, but helps out by adding some light to the parts of the composition where there simply is none. I don't do it a lot with music, because I think flash is rude and draws attention, but I do do it every now and then if I am totally legit for the shoot and have actually been tasked with shooting the group; not just doing it for fun.

    Hint for your flash: ND filters if even 1/16 power is too much.
     
  19. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Member

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    Anyway, time for me to try some things out tomorrow! I will mount it on a trusty old Zenit and document my apartment. :smile:
     
  20. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Member

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    I shot a test roll in my apartment, and found this very accurate. However, I do have a grey wall, which was rendered beautifully on the negative.