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  1. #1

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    Flash on a variety of film cameras

    I think like a lot of APUGers, I've got a growing selection of cameras... and I've recently started to use a fair bit of flash. I am intrigued by how people approach flash with different camera systems.

    I use Hasselblad 500cms, Contax G and then some old RF's and SLRs of various vintages. I've been using a Metz 45 CT-3 with a bunch of homemade diffusers. For metering I use a Sekonic Studio Deluxe III so no flash metering at all. I've been exclusively guesstimating exposure using the scale on the Metz and understanding (somewhat) the difference any modifiers make.

    On the whole, things tend to go OK but ideally I'd like a flash with a little more control and flexibility. I guess I will have to buy a flash meter (thinking a 308s) and a cheapish standard hot shoe flash with variable manual output and a PC connection (I really only shoot with flash off camera). Obviously TTL isn't worth it and frankly I don't want to use TTL for some cameras (like the G2 that support it) and manual for others - better manual all the way I'd think. Down the track I'd also like the option to use multiple flash and wireless. Can't really afford a Quantum so are there any other recommendations?

    Sorry for the long-winded question, but I am sure you know where I am coming from... I'm guessing lots of people have arrived at a similar problem at some point. Thanks.

  2. #2

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    I usually rock up with my RB67 with a Vivitar285 mounted. Take an ambient reading. Evaluate the room size and calculate the most probable/likely/comfortable distance to subject (and stick to it). Divide my guide number by my preferred distance. Then select my film and preferred EI to keep me within 3 stops of my ambient (if thats where I want to be - a choice that often gets taken away from you). I usually throw my polaroid back in my NatGeo sachel too so that if my ambient is tricky or shifting around on me (and I have a particular ratio in mind) then I will fire off a few polaroids early in the night to identify a range (of distances to subject) in particular zones of the room and off I go.

    Lately I have been getting right into 'rear curtain' sync on my RB67 for corporate/social scene/after party crowds. Leaving some space for 'happy mistakes' is always fun too. I usually spend the first half of my shooting time in a tight controlled methodology and then 'let it all hang out' for the second half of my time shooting.

    If ever you get asked 'are you a real photographer?' just show them your film camera and ask them 'what do you think?'.
    Last edited by Daniel Lancaster; 03-03-2010 at 11:27 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #3

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    Thanks very much Daniel - so you've never seen the need for a flash meter? I must say there are lots of times that using a meter would be pretty impractical and simply doing the math in your head seems a much better way. Would you mind elaborating on your method to maintain enough ambient light and calculating fill please? Do you have a preferred 'amount' of flash - say 30% of overall exposure? Good to know the 285 supports rear curtain.

  4. #4
    wiltw's Avatar
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    The Metz 45CT3 has photosensor Auto mode, and it can support TTL film flash automation with the suitable modules for each brand of camera that supports TTL. Is there some reason why you avoid the use of these modes?

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by mesh View Post
    Good to know the 285 supports rear curtain.
    It doesnt support rear curtain (on the RB). But I am just good enough to boss it around and MAKE it go rear curtain lol.

    As for your question of ratios I am sure there are far greater apug intellectual luminaries that could guide you on that but if you gave me a specific example of a particular environment you wished to shoot then I could walk you through how I might attack it with my RB.

    I would imagine that kind of discussion would be very much dependent upon our relative personal aesthetics (i.e I would be hesitant to suggest particular 'percentages' as being decidedly more accurate than any others).

    (Edit: No I have never found the need to ever touch a incident meter in the context of the events I mentioned in my previous post.)
    Last edited by Daniel Lancaster; 03-03-2010 at 11:57 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by wiltw View Post
    The Metz 45CT3 has photosensor Auto mode, and it can support TTL film flash automation with the suitable modules for each brand of camera that supports TTL. Is there some reason why you avoid the use of these modes?
    Good point, but there are quite a few cameras I use that simply don't support the modules (some 1940's folders for example). My 'main' camera however is a 500cm and it obviously doesn't support TTL. Maybe I should try and find a 503cx however and at least run TTL for that and the Contax? I just figured it was all getting too hard and probably easier to be manual all the time.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Lancaster View Post
    As for your question of ratios I am sure there are far greater apug intellectual luminaries that could guide you on that but if you gave me a specific example of a particular environment you wished to shoot then I could walk you through how I might attack it with my RB.
    Thanks Daniel... Say you ambient metered a person @ 125th, f8 but their face were in shadow. How would you approach flash without a meter?

    I've been fluky and just running the flash at the correct distance for that f-stop, and then reducing camera exposure by a stop. Very unscientific and only working because of the latitude of film ;-) Calculating the 'two' exposures and properly averaging is doing my head in! Of course hen the flash is the primary light source it's easy.

  8. #8
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Lancaster View Post
    I usually rock up with my RB67 with a Vivitar285 mounted.
    That's my combination too. I have only really used it outside for fill flash though and just a few inside shots with it as the main light.

    For fill flash, I find the 285's auto sensor works fine with the ISO dial set for two stops faster speed than I am using.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Lancaster View Post
    Lately I have been getting right into 'rear curtain' sync on my RB67 for corporate/social scene/after party crowds.
    How do you do rear curtain sync on a camera with leaf shutter lenses?


    Steve.

  9. #9
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    Your flash has a meter built into it. The thyristor reads the light reflected off the subject (closest object) and cuts out the flash pulse when enough light has reached the camera. With the correct ISO and aperture dialed into the flash unit, of course. So TTL doesn't enter into it.

    Flash meters are used when the flash (or strobes) aren't located on the camera: when the flash-to-subject distance bears no relation to the camera-to-subject distance. With a camera-mounted flash unit, an extra metering unit would be redundant, and you'd still have to work out the ambient portion.

    Fill flash is done according to taste as others suggested, but the flash unit should have your aperture and film speed correctly dialed in as a start. If you wish to take the fill down a notch, just up the ISO on the flash unit by a third of a stop. For example, if the flash unit has 100 iso dialed in, then set it to 125 iso -- on the flash unit only. This tricks the thyristor on the flash unit into thinking it doesn't need as much light on the subject. If you take the fill down much further, you'll wonder where the fill went. Beyond the fill portion, you use the shutter speed to adjust the exposure of the ambient portion of the lighting.

    An alternate to this scheme is to set the ISO and aperture on the flash unit as before, set you lens aperture to the same, but lengthen
    the shutter speed to give you more ambient exposure. Your dialed in fill won't be affected.

    I hope that helps.
    Considerably AWOL at the present time...

    Archive/Blog: http://davidwilliamwhite.blogspot.com

  10. #10

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    Thanks David - that's a great explanation. Thanks to everyone else too - much appreciated.

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