I use it all the time, using Pocketwizards and flashes (studio flashes and speedlights).
I use a digital camera to gauge how the light actually is and to fine-tune exposure (it simply replace the old-style of using polaroid backs), then I shoot with my Canon 1v, Hasselblad 503 or my Mamiya rz67 II at the gauged aperture.
I never use TTL, only manual mode and light meters.
Automatic (TTL) flash takes away the control IMO,
When I learned to use strobes, I did it manually without a meter. I tested my strobes with each reflector or diffuser I owned using slide film to determine the guide number. I made diagrams and calculated the exposure and the ratio of the main light to fill. I had modeling lights so I could see the effect of the positioning of the light, and I could move the lights around during the shoot, but as long as I didn't change the distance between the main light and the subject, I didn't have to recalculate, and my exposures were always spot on.
It's easier with a light meter, but there's a lot to be learned by going through the process of testing for guide number with film, diagramming the lighting, and seeing how it works at the shoot.
I think most of us here all agreed that TTL flash control isn't of much value. I was always amused when I read so many posts (especially in digital forum) that people were so scared of flashes that can't do TTL.
The trick is to have the slave lights as fill lights; less powerful or farther away than the light controlled via the TTL circuit.
As David points out, there are more "primitive" ways to do this that are probably much more effective & sure in the end. There's no mystery about a film's sensitivity, a flash's output and the inverse square law. It's just complicated. I'm yet to really take the time myself.
All those Kodak data-books with their strange calculators, lengthy tables and heady discussion of guide numbers... yep, that's what this is all about... :joyful:
Years ago I used multiple flash when it was with flash bulbs. No meters, no TTL etc. There was an amazingly simple way to determine exposure and placement. Once the main exposure light had been established ,usually by trial and error tests. The equivalent of determining film speed, which you should be with a new flash unit anyway. The other lights could be determined using the f stop scale as a guide Converting the f scale into feet ,if the main light is say 8 feet from the subject then 11 feet f/11 would be a 1:2 ratio. 16 feet f/16 would be a 1:4 ratio approximately. A few quick trials will establish the working values This even worked with color transparency film which had practically no latitude at all.
Full manual and a pre-planned measurement trial and error is all good, but completely useless for a mobile setup where you cannot control every aspect of the lighting.
Utilizing a setup capable of TTL can still allow you to control the lighting via ratios without worrying about exposure as much. Yeah, all of you are so awesome when it comes to a studio setup where once you have everything measured out it never moves, but that is completely useless when it comes to a often-changed setup inside, outside, morning, sunny, beach, snow, etc. Digital gives you the flexibility of trial-and-error on the spot, but that is not capable with film.
I can either setup everything and take light measurements for the next 20 minutes, which are pointless if the outside ambient light changes. Using a setup capable of TTL speedlights allows me more control than any setup you guys are offering.
I have had great success with three manually-controlled speedlights, off camera on light stands, triggered by cheapy Cactus wireless triggers. I incident meter with a flashmeter, plugged right into the Cactus transmitter.
When it's really important, I can pop a proof shot on DSLR or with a polaroid back for the Bronica -- but I rarely make any changes because the flashmeter has removed any guesswork or trial-and-error. You know exactly what exposure you are getting, in what ratio. I find it's easier to tweak ratios by just moving the fill flash closer or further away -- especially on a busy location, sliding a light stand back a couple of feet is much quicker than wrestling with the digital pushbutton controls on the back of the flash.
I've done two (or two-and-a-half) speedlights on Nikon TTL, using SB26's and SU-4s. It works well, but it's not radio-wireless (i.e. the flashes have to see each other.) And while it's fine on a Nikon TTL body, I can't use it with medium format or my manual 35mm bodies.
Originally Posted by MrBaz
Use a Polaroid back or a digital camera to test your position. Keep a notebook with lighting diagrams so you can duplicate your results, use a tape measure to record distance from subject.
Originally Posted by Katie
A good exercise is to shoot a test roll doing the steps above and based on the results use the set up you like best for your actual project. It's a really fun excersize.