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  1. #1

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    beginner to external on-camera flash, help please!

    Gear: Nikon F4, SB-28

    I bought my first flash and im excited to use it, although pretty intimidated since im on a film camera and cant test and check, test and check. so to make an expensive learning curve cheaper i wanted to ask you guys some questions before i begin shooting.

    so where im starting at is with the sb-28 mounted on my camera, so lets start there w/o mention of triggers or a wire for now. again, the reason why im not just going out there and experimenting is because im on film and i want to start with a lot of knowledge to shorten the costly learning curve a bit.
    ____________________________________

    1. So let me get this straight. for basic flash photography, i have the flash pointed straight at my subject, choose my shutter speed to expose for ambient light, and choose my aperture to expose my flashed subject. TTL should select the proper flash output for me. easy as cake?

    lets say im outside at night with my friend in the middle of a street and there are some street lights, if i shoot him at 1/60 @ f/16, will i get a picture with a background nicely lit by the street lights and my friend nicely (not too harshly lit) lit by my flash?

    2. For fill flash at daytime, tell me if i have this correct: I should expose aperture and shutter speed as i would normally without a flash, then point the flash straight up with the bounce card out, manually select at full power output and shoot? What happens if i try the same except on ttl mode?

    also, any tips on proper aiming with the bounce card? or is just sticking the flash straight up generally good enough

    3. For indoors bounce flash, how the hell do you figure out exposure? does TTL still manage to work? Strobist mentioned a few stops of lost light from a bounce, does that mean you should set EV +2 or +3 to get the flash to output enough power to correctly expose the scene? does it matter if i set exposure compensation on my camera or flash. which one should i set it on, because i can adjust EV on either

    lets say im in a normal sized 15x15x15 room. im taking a picture of a friend on one side of the room, and im on the opposite end. i want to bounce flash towards him so i either bounce it off the ceiling down on top of him, or bounce the light behind me on to his front, or to his side (which would you prefer?). I would set my flash on TTL, set my desired shutter speed (for my camera my max sync speed is 1/250) , set my desired aperture, then set my EV +2 or +3 to trick my flash into increasing its output to compensate for the bouncing?

  2. #2
    CGW
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    Look for an SB-28 manual online.

  3. #3
    Selidor's Avatar
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    Yeah the manual and/or one of those magic lantern guides would be quite helpful...the manual in itself is a guide.
    Also just practice with a few rolls with different settings and situations, then you'll get the hang of it. I know its $$$, but the experience gained will serve you for many more rolls. Nikon flash photography Is not difficult, but I doubt everything will be perfect the very first time. BTW I used to have a F-801s + SB-15/SB-24 setup.
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  4. #4

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    i have the manual, didnt help much, didnt asnwer the questions i asked. read all of strobist, unfortunately their stuff had you use trial and error (which i know is unavoidable but im trying to cut down on it). in the mean time i have been testing shots. ive been carrying out a pad and pen making note of settings and drawing out locations of me, the subject, and other light sources. though id really like answers to some of my q's.

  5. #5
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DividedSky View Post
    Gear: Nikon F4, SB-28

    I bought my first flash and im excited to use it, although pretty intimidated since im on a film camera and cant test and check, test and check. so to make an expensive learning curve cheaper i wanted to ask you guys some questions before i begin shooting.

    so where im starting at is with the sb-28 mounted on my camera, so lets start there w/o mention of triggers or a wire for now. again, the reason why im not just going out there and experimenting is because im on film and i want to start with a lot of knowledge to shorten the costly learning curve a bit.
    ____________________________________

    1. So let me get this straight. for basic flash photography, i have the flash pointed straight at my subject, choose my shutter speed to expose for ambient light, and choose my aperture to expose my flashed subject. TTL should select the proper flash output for me. easy as cake?

    lets say im outside at night with my friend in the middle of a street and there are some street lights, if i shoot him at 1/60 @ f/16, will i get a picture with a background nicely lit by the street lights and my friend nicely (not too harshly lit) lit by my flash?

    2. For fill flash at daytime, tell me if i have this correct: I should expose aperture and shutter speed as i would normally without a flash, then point the flash straight up with the bounce card out, manually select at full power output and shoot? What happens if i try the same except on ttl mode?

    also, any tips on proper aiming with the bounce card? or is just sticking the flash straight up generally good enough

    3. For indoors bounce flash, how the hell do you figure out exposure? does TTL still manage to work? Strobist mentioned a few stops of lost light from a bounce, does that mean you should set EV +2 or +3 to get the flash to output enough power to correctly expose the scene? does it matter if i set exposure compensation on my camera or flash. which one should i set it on, because i can adjust EV on either

    lets say im in a normal sized 15x15x15 room. im taking a picture of a friend on one side of the room, and im on the opposite end. i want to bounce flash towards him so i either bounce it off the ceiling down on top of him, or bounce the light behind me on to his front, or to his side (which would you prefer?). I would set my flash on TTL, set my desired shutter speed (for my camera my max sync speed is 1/250) , set my desired aperture, then set my EV +2 or +3 to trick my flash into increasing its output to compensate for the bouncing?
    In response to all of your questions generally, the SB-28 appears to offer TTl automatic flash exposure with the F4 and a CPU lens.

    This means that you can probably rely on the TTl auto exposure function to automatically give you correct flash exposure in most circumstances. In most cases you won't have to set the EV compensation to override the auto.

    One exception would be when you are using the flash at the limits of its capabilities - for example in your 15x15x15 room, if you are across the room, shooting slow film and bouncing off a darkish ceiling, the flash probably doesn't put out enough light to do the job.

    Another exception would be where your subject is small in the frame and surrounded by a background that is either much more reflective or much less reflective than the subject. The TTl auto will always be fooled by the background in cases like that so you need to adjust for that.

    For fill flash, the TTl will have a particular approach. You will need to follow the manual here, and experiment with different backgrounds and conditions. Most likely the auto function will do what you want it to do in most circumstances, and the exceptions will be obvious (and most likely involve either subjects or backgrounds of unusual size or reflectivity).

    In your example of a night shot and street lights, I cannot recall ever having enough light to expose the background at 1/60 at f/16 - more often it is something like 6 seconds at f/16.

    Bounce cards come in different shapes and sizes. Generally the flat ones work best when angled forward at something like a 45 degree angle, with the flash head pointing straight up. Sometimes though it works well to combine ceiling bounce and a bounce card - in that case the flash head is angled at about 45 degrees up and the bounce card is angled slightly into the path of light so as to reflect a small portion directly toward the subject (good for catch lights).

    In general, I would suggest starting out by reading the manual and following the instructions exactly for TTl auto use in a variety of situations. Try out as many of those situations as you can on one 36 exposure roll, being sure to vary subject size, background reflectivity and lighting conditions. Make detailed notes about things like room sizes, ceiling heights and colours. Then review the results to see in which circumstances the results are pleasing, and in which circumstances you need to make adjustments. In most cases, the results should be good. In the few exceptions, you should either be able to understand why they weren't good, or you can ask here for help.

    If you do the test with slide film and can project the results, you will get the best feedback, because printing can make up for a lot of slight errors, whereas with slides what you did is what you'll get.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  6. #6

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    You are explaining using the camera in "M" mode, I don't believe that TTL works in M. I always use P, A, or S modes, on my F4 in that order. I use the SB-24, but it is really simple and the setup is the same, attach the Speed Light, turn it on, set it to TTL, check to see that the Speed Light knows what lens and film speed you are using when you tap the shutter button half way. If the Speed Light and your camera are talking as they should you will see the film speed, the lens focal length, and the f stop on the LED screen on the back of the speed light. The Speed Light may make some noise at first as it focuses, don't worry, that is normal.

    I don't want this to sound rude, but until you are willing to use a lot of film learning to use the Speed Light TTL knows a lot more about flash exposure than you do, you just have to trust it.
    "Would you like it if someone that painted in oils told you that you were not making portraits because you were using a camera?"
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  7. #7
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    I know I am going to come off as sounding cranky, but...bite the bullet, and learn to light without auto everything integrated with the camera flashes.

    The first time you will want to light a scene with more than one strobe, unless you want to spend big bucks on the dedicated strobes that talk to each other and otherwise promise to fly you to the moon, you will be stuck.

    Search for used flash meter, save to buy it, and learn to use it. Then you can figure your flash and flash ratios in any situation with all sorts of vendors gear.
    my real name, imagine that.

  8. #8

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    Got the same thing as you. Now, you need to get your flash charged up and put it on the camera THEN bring out the manual. Without firing a shot (you will just tap the shutter) you can see how the camera interoperates with the flash. I believe for most stuff, I leave the camera in "P" and simply adjust the f-stop on the lens for what overall distance the back of the flash tells me I am OK to use. Your choice will be pointing the flash right at the person/subject which will give you lots of hard shadows.....so raise it 45 degrees and consider the built in bounce card or use a flash modifier of some sort in the front to soften the flash.....have them all, don't use them now, to lazy or simply aim the flash directly up with low ceiling or rotate the head left or right or behind.


    Mike makes a very, very valid point. Use the flash in the manual mode (it's all in the manual and I think the flash gives you a distance again....simple) and you will always be good. You also have the good old Automatic, non TTL mode also, but since you have TTL, learn how to use it. It will take a couple of tries to read the flash manual, call it totaly useless, read the camera manual for TTL flash, call it partially useless, chase the buttons around the back of the flash, read the flash manual again, then you will start to get it. They make it sound much more complicated that it is. Just keep hitting the mode button until TTL indicates on the back of the flash. It should show film speed, your lens focal length and f-stop......if not find an AF or an AF-D lens to use.....learning will then take place. The key is, you must be able to understand what button does what on the flash and what the LCD is indicating. Play with it before you even waste any film......try to hit a button, see what happened on the LCD, and understand what just happened/changed. As I recall, it was probably 2 or 3 hours before i was comfortable......no, I was familiar using the flash. It took about 3 or 4 rolls for flash photography before I got comfortable. It takes me probably 5 to 10 minutes now to get back up to speed when I use the combo now since I don't use that flash very often any more.....

    The SB-28 is a really, really nice flash coupled to your F4, I also use my F4S with big old handle mounted flashes in the automatic mode because at one point you will want more power than the SB-28. Something like a Metz 60 will be in your future WHEN you need more power.........and that's a whole new discussion there.....

    Bob E.
    Nikon F5, Nikon F4S, Nikon FA, Nikon FE, Nikon N90, Nikon N80, Nikon N75, Mamiya 645 Pro, Mamiya Press Super 23, Yashica Lynx 14e, Yashica Electro GSN, Yashica 124G, Yashica D

  9. #9
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    I'd set the camera on aperture priority, -1 exposure comp, and just make sure the camera doesn't exceed 1/250th.

    Set the flash to automatic (non ttl) also -1 exposure comp, or mis-adjust it's film speed by one stop. Dial in the lens aperture on the flash if it doesn't relay that from the camera automatically.

    This will provide an evenly balanced mix of natural and flash light, and the flash should adjust it's power based on the distance and it's known aperture setting.

  10. #10
    jp498's Avatar
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    If you are using TTL you don't need to trick the system for light lost due to bounce. TTL means it's reads flash intensity Through The Lens, which is an empirical way to measure it.

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