Flash Foibles

Cabled, wireless, studio - anything do with using flash
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Greg Beetham
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Flash Foibles

Unread postby Greg Beetham » Sun May 27, 2012 1:48 am

I’ve noticed a few flash problem threads lately, not here particularly, but elsewhere, so I thought I’d start a thread about flash (or not to flash) and ramble on a bit, feel free to interject.
One could say that using high ISO is not a good idea when the distance is close along with a fast f-stop and the ambient light is reasonably bright, I’m not sure if the system can compensate by using very high pulse speeds now, it could be that 1/50000sec interferes with refresh rates and frequencies in the digital age. On the other hand there do seem to be a few question marks over the way the flash system behaves, and some cameras/models seem more prone to irregularities than others.
The problem/challenge with the 3600HS(D) and 5600HS(D) flashes might be related to the fact that they are legacy film FF flashes and I’m not sure if KM or Sony managed to get the guide number and output relationship absolutely nailed for use on APS-C format, I did notice when I began using first my 3600HS(D) and later the HVL-F56AM (same as 5600HS(D)) on the KM5D there were a few initial flaky moments with flash output here and there but they both seemed to ‘settle down’ after a bit of use, maybe because all my lenses happened to be (D) lenses. What made things difficult I think was that OTF was lost in the digital cameras right at the start and the only thing they had to balance that loss with was the use of (D) lenses with ADI in direct fill flash and TTL with 25% pre-flash with just about everything else.
I guess we should be alert to the fact that camera brand marketing is usually happy to announce the advent of some new feature but rather reluctant too keep us informed about features that have been altered/modified or dropped altogether.
As an aside, speaking flash power for a moment, the F56 is actually a more powerful flash than the F58, the bigger the number the more impressive it looks in the brochure or sales cabinet but the GN56 was calculated to cover the angle of view of an 85mm lens on FF at 1/1 power level, the GN58 was calculated on the narrower angle of view of a 105mm lens thus condensing the output and ‘enhancing’ the measurement calculations. One can be misled by numbers on flash units a little unless one has a look past the marketing fluff. Take the old Metz 45 hammerhead with a GN of 45 at 62° of coverage, (= 35mm lens on FF) at first glance one would think that the F56 or F58 would be more powerful but that isn’t the case necessarily, if one were to set the F58 zoom on 62° field of coverage it’s GN drops to around 36 so in reality the F58 has about 2/3rds the power of a Metz45.
Getting back to the F56, one can tell they didn’t manage to get overly much sorted with it for use on APS-C because it still has the legacy ‘wider than 24mm’ flashing symbol when using a focal length shorter than 24mm, meaning for you to deploy the wide angle attachment, the problem with that is even 16mm focal length on APS-C is still no wider than 24mm on FF (give or take a midge) so when using that flash on APS-C with a zoom lens like the 16-80 there should not be any need to deploy the wide attachment at all. On the other hand though if the wide angle attachment is NOT deployed there is a GN output gain so that would have to be compensated for by the camera-flash system. But the bottom line is the flashing wider than 24mm symbol should only occur when using a shorter than 24mm lens on a FF camera (as it does) and also only when using a lens shorter than 16mm on an APS-C camera.
In the back of the handbook for the F58 there is two GN tables that lists variations of output depending on whether the flash is used on a FF camera or an APS-C camera, there isn’t all that much difference in both tables but I assume they basically used the angle of view of most lenses as for FF because then the overlap would be more than enough for use on APS-C, the problem that arises though with zoom head flashes is, is the system smart enough yet to zoom to the correct position and angle of coverage with a particular lens focal length and then get the output correct depending on which FORMAT it’s being used on?
There is also the distinct possibility that various lenses (legacy models and brands) may be incapable of reporting to the camera accurately, or at all.
I think even though they have done some work on the problems it’s basically ‘work in progress,’ there seems to be a few gremlins that still need sorting out…apart, that is, from the contact pin problem (occasional unregulated overexposures, depending on which pin looses contact) and others like incorrect mechanical responses to a particular f-stop or shutter setting.
The old gremlin where there was something reflective in the field of view causing major sudden underexposures seems to have been nipped in the bud from what I’ve seen of late, that one I think was because the on camera flash ‘sent’ a signal to the ‘other’ flash to ‘turn off’ only to receive the signal back in the reflection which caused the camera flash to turn itself off.
Greg
ps. I corrected a fopar with the F58 and Metz45 power calculations, I fowled up degrees with mm's when looking up specifications duh! I was tired ok.... :roll:

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bfitzgerald
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Re: Flash Foibles

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Sun May 27, 2012 11:10 pm

Greg I found the 5d a bit here and there for flash exposures though by no means torture once you get used to things. I still feel the exposures were more consistent with the flash off the camera, than on it..even to this day but flashes can vary a bit too as you say. Film 60 bang on exposure wise, film 7 has a quirk for bounce flash where it can be a bit under (works fine with ratio though) The 5d's biggest annoyance is the WA bounce overexposure which needed a firmware update that never arrived! I can work around it but it's something that should have got fixed. ADI and TTL settings can make a difference even on non D lenses which I found a bit odd!

I'll be honest, I'm so impressed with the Metz 58 AF-2 and it's ability to use the on flash sensor bypassing the camera metering, I've been toying with the idea of getting one for the KM's I still have, bit more cash than I'd like to outlay for my now trimmed down KM system..but it's a beast of a gun. This solves 2 problems the WA overexposure is solved with the flash "A" mode, and though I never suffered much from the "lazy eye" flash issue (just a few times) this kills the pre flash too so that's not going to be an issue either. Playing in A mode on the Nikon body it seems quite hard to fool this flash..

I think this is the solution to flash issues and I see no real reason to bother with the high end Nikon guns, whilst I have no experience of the new Sony ones I can't imagine they'd outdo the Metz in this area. This is probably the place to go for consistency with flash, a lot of Pentax users ran to Metz too with P-TTL inconsistencies. Some are saying there are problems with the new SLT models and flash exposures too. Not sure exactly what is going on there maybe a firmware update will sort that out.

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Greg Beetham
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Re: Flash Foibles

Unread postby Greg Beetham » Mon May 28, 2012 12:23 pm

Yeah Barry I saw the ‘discussion’ on [auto] ISO in [M] mode, so far it seems fertile ground for a lively discussion where almost no one agrees with anyone else, who would have thought?…it’s rather odd anyway when even if it was included as an option the ones who don’t want it don’t have to use it, just like those who don’t use the AEL button for balancing backlit subjects while using flash, no one is forcing them to use it.
As far as the KM5D goes using flash I will have to refresh my memory some more with it in general use situations, I think the last time I used it seriously with flash on something was when I was trying it out on the small lively Honeyeaters around the birdbath and that is something far outside the expected parameters of general use. Getting reasonable exposure with telephoto flash on a very small semi backlit subject that’s in almost constant motion in a thicket of branches is a challenge for any camera I think and the camera did ok I thought.
Anyway I included the camera and the two original flashes in my ramble as those were what Sony had as a reference point for future bodies and the changeover from film to digital. KM at the time did what the could with what they had available which broadly speaking wasn’t too bad a job, but as we found out still needed work on a couple of rough edges and still does even now. I saw someone the other day saying both KM cameras were pretty bad with flash but that hasn’t been my experience, once that ridiculous ‘anti red eye’ feature is turned off all of mine worked ok with people, I’ve taken many people shots with flash and I don’t get lazy eye at all (except for the first time way back when).
Prompted by the criticism I did do a few quick ‘tests’ with my KM5D and HVL-56AM with a ‘way over the top’ difficult static subject. I decided to try a very dark coloured armchair in a quite dark location that was also backlit. The light was so bad the camera couldn’t even lock focus directly on the chair but there was a bit of light falling on the left armrest so I focussed on that and re-composed.
I tried with the pop up flash, the system flash direct, the system flash ceiling bounce, the system flash direct WL and ceiling bounce WL. My over the top subject proved too much for the poor old KM5D…some of the time, ranging from underexposed in the first too over exposed in the last (I think) and a few in the middle that weren’t too bad, even quite good with focus and exposure one would have to say, but I don’t think there was one that was beyond salvation by someone who is good with RAW. Thing was I didn’t take any notes as too exactly which frame belongs to which method, so I really should repeat the whole thing and this time not go for such a difficult subject…and take some notes against the relevant frame nos. When or if I do I might post them if anyone is interested.
Greg

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bfitzgerald
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Re: Flash Foibles

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Sun Sep 09, 2012 11:48 am

Greg I saw some news on a new Sony ring flash!
Sony HVL-RL1 ring flash: priced around $350 on the alpha rumours site.

Will this address the issues for users? Only time will tell..also a new top end flashgun Sony HVL-F60M flash: guide number: 60, built-in LED light, price: $550.

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Dr. Harout
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Re: Flash Foibles

Unread postby Dr. Harout » Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:49 pm

I suppose the HVL-RL1 is a ring light (RL abbreviation). As for the HVL-F60M, can't say much.
However, if you look at the leaked pictures of the a99, the flash shoe is changed to the standard hot-shoe type, but with only two contacts (the body of the hot shoe itself and the center one), so I don't figure how ADI would work, or other exchangeable data between the flash and the body/lens.
A99 + a7rII + Sony, Zeiss, Minolta, Rokinon and M42 lenses

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bfitzgerald
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Re: Flash Foibles

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Sun Sep 09, 2012 11:05 pm

Doc I missed that didn't even spot the hot shoe.
That would be a huge thing to go back to the standard hot shoe...but risky as it kinda kills the appeal to flash users currently.
IMO that would be a very very big thing, and probably not a good one (too late to change the hot shoe IMO)

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Greg Beetham
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Re: Flash Foibles

Unread postby Greg Beetham » Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:20 am

Sony don’t know the difference between a light and a flash, they have been calling their previous ring light a flash for years so it’s probably more of the same. And it looks like they have given up trying to make the i-shoe properly, something they have struggled to do since the A100, some people report no trouble with their flashes and others have lots of problems so there is quite some variability in the situation with the i-shoe.
Now it looks like a whole new shoe is on the cards, won’t that be swell? More non retrospective compatibility from Sony, I wonder what else in the flash system has been affected internally?
Also no lift up flash on the A99 like the previous FF’s so it looks like you must use a bulky system flash for candids on FF with Sony or no flash at all. Maybe off camera flash (and even on camera) has been re-designed altogether; it might be radio link now, who knows.
Greg

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bfitzgerald
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Re: Flash Foibles

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:42 am

Greg I think it's a strange move to dump the inverted shoe. We could debate if it was a good idea when Minolta did it..now really it's too late in the day to make sense at all. I would think Sony would have to offer an adaptor for current flashes..if they break compatibility entirely then that would be quite a disaster for them.

I actually quite like the Minolta hot shoe..but have no problems with a normal one either. I sold my last Sony component from my Minolta system a few weeks back..that was a Sony flash. I might replace it with a Metz or a Sigma..maybe they will have a few deals around shortly!
I just felt the need to just have Minolta stuff..a few bits for sentimental reasons. Sony changing the flash hot shoe is another good reason to give them a wide berth.

We'll see on the new flashes what they offer!


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