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  1. #1

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    Working the Bronica ETR like it's 1982

    I have a great Bronica kit that I would like to press into service for portraits and events. To date I have done these kind of shoots d*g*tally or with newer Nikon TTL gear when I shoot flash; otherwise it's just natural light. I would like to use the Bronica kit for more than just natural light, but am having a hard time assessing what I really need to do to make this work. Manual or "auto" flash is not something I have spent a lot of time with.

    Here is my kit:

    • Bronica ETRSi
    • AE prism
    • Rotary finder
    • Speed grip E
    • Lenses from 40mm to 250mm
    • 3 backs (120)
    • 2 Metz 45 CT-1 flashes


    Seems like everything I need -- I'm only missing some mentorship. Most working photogs seem to have moved on from this capable setup. So I turn to the collective wisdom of APUG.

    First question: How many loaded backs do you really need, to cover a portrait session, or even a wedding? Is an assistant going to be mandatory, to keep loading those backs? Or can you comfortably carry enough backs, reload them during quiet moments, and actually keep up?

    Second question: How many rolls of 120 film would you take and/or shoot at a portrait session? or a wedding?

    Third question(s): Daylight fill flash. The Bronica AE instructions suggests to only use manual exposure with a flash, otherwise exposure errors can occur. That's OK with me, I often prefer a handheld ambient light meter, and that means I could use the unmetered rotary finder and not feel like I was missing out. It just seemed odd, and something I wanted to confirm. I suppose I could use the AE finder, in manual mode, and dial in the exposure. But that actually seems riskier/more work than simply using an ambient light meter.

    So, moving on to the Metz flash. The instructions suggest, when doing daylight fill flash, setting the flash control to an aperture one stop larger than that metered for ambient exposure. So taking that into account, would this process make sense?

    1. Take ambient reading (i.e. f/8 at 125)
    2. Set Metz to f/5.6
    3. Set lens aperture to f/8
    4. Set shutter speed to 250 (to give additional contrast between foreground and darker background) OR
    5. Set shutter speed to 60 (to enhance contrast between a dark subject and a light background)


    Fourth question: Backups. I have a backup ETR body, finder, winder, and lots of lenses. Would you advise carrying that much backup? Or would you typically pack a more unassuming backup (like a Rolleiflex)?

    I look forward to any perspective folks can share.

    Dave
    My other camera is a Pentax

  2. #2

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    Good Evening, Dave,

    You're basically on the right track. Your shutter speed/aperture combination provides the basic exposure; the flash is just to provide a little fill for the shadows and/or to reduce the contrast. I've very successfully used the approach you outline with Vivitar 285 flash units set on auto in similar fashion. Remember that if you change shutter speed as indicated in #3 and #4, a change in aperture will also be needed to maintain the proper overall exposure. The aperture change will then require a change in the auto setting on your flash unit. You'll probably have to do a little experimenting to fine-tune your approach. It's usually better to favor a little less flash fill rather than too much.

    Konical

  3. #3
    lxdude's Avatar
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    You don't have to have more backs. You can preload extra inserts and just switch those. Cheaper and less bulky. I put mine in a small bag to keep out dust, but I'm not in a studio environment. I have one insert case, which is very nice, but they are hard to find.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by filmamigo View Post
    So, moving on to the Metz flash. The instructions suggest, when doing daylight fill flash, setting the flash control to an aperture one stop larger than that metered for ambient exposure. So taking that into account, would this process make sense?

    1. Take ambient reading (i.e. f/8 at 125)
    2. Set Metz to f/5.6
    3. Set lens aperture to f/8
    4. Set shutter speed to 250 (to give additional contrast between foreground and darker background) OR
    5. Set shutter speed to 60 (to enhance contrast between a dark subject and a light background)
    Changing the shutter speed to one a stop faster will lead to underexposed flash (because of the aperture you set it to) and underexposed ambient.
    How will that increase contrast between flash lit foreground and sun lit background?

    Setting an one stop slower shutter speed will lighten the bit you also fill in with (set to underexpose) flash and light background equally. The effect of flash (now 2 stops below the non-flash exposure) will just about disappear, and you end up with about the same picture you would have gotten when just overexposing by 1 stop and not use flash fill.
    (Unless there is absolutely no ambient light reaching the bits the flash will fill in. Then you will have those bits underexposed by the 1 stop you have set.)

    Just set the shutter speed to what the meter says it should be for your ambient light exposure.

  5. #5
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    I have also done this with a Vivitar 285 on both an ETRS and an RB67.

    The 285 allows for manual setting but my method is to set the camera for correct ambient exposure (as you are suggesting) then use one of the 285's auto colour modes set to give one or two stops less exposure than would be needed to correctly expose with just flash (but you knew that bit).

    I set the flash compensation by setting the dial to a faster film speed. i.e. with ISO 100 film, set the dial to 200 or 400 for one or two stops below respectively. The dial doesn't actually affect anything but does tell you which setting to use.

    The advantage with using the auto setting is that it adjusts itself with changes of distance and also compensates for the light loss from using a reflector which I would also advise.

    Although I do have one of those Metz flashes, I can't remember what functions they have. I think they do have an auto function and there are some models which can connect to the ETRS via an adaptor to give some additional exposure intelligence.


    Steve.

  6. #6

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    Thanks for the good input everyone. I had a family event this weekend and shot it with the Bronnie -- but I opted to stay low-profile and shot it with a stripped body, WLF and no flash. Available light only.

    To get some practise with fill flash, I will drag some friends out for some portraits.

    I am still curious to know -- how many rolls of film you would plan on carrying to shoot a portrait session (or even a wedding)?
    My other camera is a Pentax

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by lxdude View Post
    You don't have to have more backs. You can preload extra inserts and just switch those. Cheaper and less bulky.
    Brilliant! I never thought of that.

  8. #8

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    I have been able to find the insert cases that have loops for a belt to go through on tha'bay for about $16US. They're neat things to have around and less stuff to haul around for sure. For a wedding or long event where you would need to be there for hours on end, expect to shoot a lot, and then some more on top of that. Because the last thing that you would want to happen is to run out of film. Granted, it will not be nearly as much as if you were using a digital rig. The process is slower and more concerted when selecting your images. I find it easy to shoot a brick of film (20 rolls) in either 35mm or 120 for an average wedding.

    Portrait sessions have changed a lot since when the ETRS was introduced. A lot less studio and a lot more fly on the wall, day in the life, editorialized, journalistic, stylized images... It can be shooting for a whole afternoon if you are going to three locations and hauling everything all over town. I think of it this way, atleast one roll per pose or scene with your subject being relaxed and you feel that you are getting good images. If that becomes a problem, shoot the first dozen frames without a roll of film in the camera (dont let the subj know that) just so that your subj or model gets relaxed.

    At an event or wedding reception I use flashes like the vivitars that have the thyristors in them. Compensate either by changing the film speed, or changing your camera's aperture by 2stops. A 30th at 8 iso 400, flash set at 5.6 is normally where I am once you get indoors and in dim light.


    I hope some of that helps.
    M. David Farrell, Jr.

    ----------------------------------------------
    ~Buying a Nikon doesn not make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner!

    ~Everybody has a photographic memory, but not everybody has film!

  9. #9

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    It does help, thank you.
    My other camera is a Pentax

  10. #10

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    If you don't have any flash experience, I recommend using your d***l for learning. You can also use it on the field to check your light (think of it as a Polaroid precheck). And absolutely take the flash off camera! See this: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html

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