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01-21-2012, 02:00 PM   #1
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K-5, P-TTL and event photography

First of all, not sure if this question goes here, or in the "photographic technique" but since the question is specific to K-5, I will ask here.

I have little experience with event photography - most of my exp is in portrait, or street photography. But a friend of mine who saw some pics recommended me to a social event in Chicago, with about 300 attendees. The event is at night, at an antique showroom, with some reflective ceiling, but some not. I will be shooting with my K5, mostly at a higher ISO using my DA * 16-50mm. There will be a lot of pics of attendees,

Anyways, I shot with K10D with AF540 flash a long time ago, and it confused me. Since then, I have shot mostly with a vivitar 285 for mostly product shots. I am thinking of going back to buying a P-TTL flash, since I don't want to manually dial in values every time a scene/light changes. While I am not a pro, good pictures from this event will help me with other gigs. I am also thinking I would buy a bounce card (Demb FlipIt seems to be popular) to maximize the exposed light. Besides, this event will have a party atomosphere (not quite the night club, but definitely dim light)

That said, I worry about P-TTL not being reliable with K-5 - as it was a while ago when I shot K10D. Has anyone enough experience with K5 and AF540 combo (or any other flash), share any advice shooting P-TTL for event photography? What is a typical compensation I should use if I use a bounce card? I plan to shoot using higher ISO and use LightRoom to get rid of noise.

While we are on this topic, any other advice? Get a monopod?

Thank you all!

PS: I am trying to achieve results like this (even if unsuccessful)








Last edited by pentaman; 01-21-2012 at 02:38 PM.
01-21-2012, 02:59 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaman Quote
First of all, not sure if this question goes here, or in the "photographic technique" but since the question is specific to K-5, I will ask here.

I have little experience with event photography - most of my exp is in portrait, or street photography. But a friend of mine who saw some pics recommended me to a social event in Chicago, with about 300 attendees. The event is at night, at an antique showroom, with some reflective ceiling, but some not. I will be shooting with my K5, mostly at a higher ISO using my DA * 16-50mm. There will be a lot of pics of attendees,

Anyways, I shot with K10D with AF540 flash a long time ago, and it confused me. Since then, I have shot mostly with a vivitar 285 for mostly product shots. I am thinking of going back to buying a P-TTL flash, since I don't want to manually dial in values every time a scene/light changes. While I am not a pro, good pictures from this event will help me with other gigs. I am also thinking I would buy a bounce card (Demb FlipIt seems to be popular) to maximize the exposed light. Besides, this event will have a party atomosphere (not quite the night club, but definitely dim light)

That said, I worry about P-TTL not being reliable with K-5 - as it was a while ago when I shot K10D. Has anyone enough experience with K5 and AF540 combo (or any other flash), share any advice shooting P-TTL for event photography? What is a typical compensation I should use if I use a bounce card? I plan to shoot using higher ISO and use LightRoom to get rid of noise.

While we are on this topic, any other advice? Get a monopod?

Thank you all!

PS: I am trying to achieve results like this (even if unsuccessful)




I use the new Metz 50 flash with a Sto fen defuser ! using P-TTL you dont need to compensate for bounce.
I do however set the flash to - One third of a stop as I prefer slight under exposure.
01-21-2012, 05:05 PM   #3
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Remember to update to the latest firmware...it appears to have fixed the overexposure while bounce flash problem. Of course, if you use a diffuser, it shouldn't matter.
01-21-2012, 05:06 PM - 2 Likes   #4
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I'd use the 285 on auto. Mine is very reliable with the K-5; just put the camera on manual, 1/60th or so shutter, depending on how much ambient light you want, and match the f/stop to the auto flash setting you choose. As long as the room light stays more or less the same that setup is very consistent.

01-21-2012, 05:24 PM   #5
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For events I only shoot in manual ie manual settings on camera and flash. K10 I used 100 ISO. K5 200 ISO.

I either bounce the flash off a white ceiling (1st preference) or I use a manfrado flash bracket, cable and large softbox on the flash. the softboax setup look stupid but works well. A large proportion of my photos will be taken with a 50-135 pentax.

use the graph on the rear LCD screen to fine

With bounce flash, I find flashes with an extendable white card useful

With any bounce flash, you might get colour casting from the ceiling
01-21-2012, 05:49 PM   #6
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I just shot a wedding reception with the K-5 and a Metz 50 (update to latest firmware on camera and flash - vital!). It was a great combo - very reliable and consistent without tweaking settings. I was either using bounce flash with The Black Foamie Thing (link below), or the Lumiquest Big Bounce (allows you to do an 80/20 forward/ceiling bounce, or 100% forward bounce). I got great results with both (though the Lumiquest was dead simple & looked great, so as a "keep things simple" tool I highly reccomend it!), the pTTL performed beautifully

This combo has the nice advantage of being very light weight, compacts for storage, and not unweildy - yet extremely flexible. I shot the bride & groom dance, the adorable kids racing by, staged posed shots and candids, all without much setting tweaking. I highly reccomend this combo

http://neilvn.com/tangents/2009/11/21/the-black-foamie-thing/

http://www.lumiquest.com/store/products/LumiQuest-Big-Bounce.html
01-21-2012, 06:01 PM   #7
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You don't have to use P-TTL. When in doubt, use plain old A flash with camera on manual (like f4-5.6, iso400-800, 1/60s).
01-21-2012, 06:02 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ecaterin Quote
I just shot a wedding reception with the K-5 and a Metz 50
By any chance, can we see some samples? While I have shot many a posed session or product, event photography is yet to go on my resume.

01-22-2012, 02:04 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaman Quote
By any chance, can we see some samples? While I have shot many a posed session or product, event photography is yet to go on my resume.
LOL - well, I'll give you some, but they're no great shakes - Take these photos as what you can do even with only a couple of weeks of crash-course flash experience I've never shot in worse lighting *headdesk* - very, very dark, mixed candle, incandescent & dance lighting, high shaped-acoustic ceilings that trapped & deflected bounce flash, preference for the photographers to stay out of people's faces..... I'm such a flash amateur it was amazing anything came out. Without the Metz+bounce set-up, I'd have gotten nothing!

Low ISO & close-up, easy peasy even in a very dim corner:

Sigma 17-70 - at 17mm, f/7.1, 1/60th, ISO 500, Lumiquest Big Bounce, (vignette applied in post)



Higher ISO (thank heavens for the K-5) & farther away you can still get action shots to look half way decent, even in dim dance-floor lighting:

FA43, f/4, 1/80th, ISO 2500, Lumiquest




Lest you think I'm nuts for agreeing to photograph all this without being confident of my flash abilities, the emphasis was for fantastic shots during the ceremony, which was all available-light only. For that, I kicked butt and took names - I'm very comfortable with that kind of set up and the ceremony shots turned out gorgeous, thank goodness! The reception shots were, "Get what you can, that's fine." :P The bride is a friend & fellow semi-pro photographer I met while photographing another wedding, we had 2 shooters & a videographer on this wedding, so the pressure was low. I learned bunches just over the course of the evening, the main thing being - insist up front that if people want really good photos under this kind of conditions, the photographer has to be expected to be in people's faces :P
01-22-2012, 10:44 AM   #10
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These are some great shots - loved the ceremony shots with FA 43 as well. I have to resist the 43 for now

Looks like both Metz 50 and AF 540 do a great job - and when I looked, they both have similar GN, with Metz seemingly with more features (sans ability to act as controller flash).

In the meanwhile, if anyone has more experiences with P-TTL and event photography,I welcome it. Also looking into manual mode shooting.
01-22-2012, 04:37 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaman Quote
These are some great shots - loved the ceremony shots with FA 43 as well. I have to resist the 43 for now

Looks like both Metz 50 and AF 540 do a great job - and when I looked, they both have similar GN, with Metz seemingly with more features (sans ability to act as controller flash).

In the meanwhile, if anyone has more experiences with P-TTL and event photography,I welcome it. Also looking into manual mode shooting.
Thanks for the compliments, I really appreciate it!

People have great things to say about both the Metz and the 540 - good equipment is always worth it! Two other things I should mention - take advantage of the custom white balance potential of the K-5. I shot my 18% gray card for each lighting set-up that day, and using the resulting custom WB has saved me ooodles of editing time!

Second, its worth taking a look at Neil van Niekerk's blog, which focuses on pTTL on-camera lighting and how to get the most out of it, in attractive lighting, in speed & in flexibility. His book, On-Camera Flash, is also well worth a read and jumped me ahead much faster than I otherwise would have gotten. It's concise, clear, and a fast read. The book and the website are oriented to wedding & portrait work, but everything is completely applicable to learning to get the most from using a speedlight in a fast-moving event setting

[ don't resist the 43! the 43 is calling to you! you must submit! ....hang on, I seem to be channeling jsherman's DA15 thread ]
01-22-2012, 05:57 PM   #12
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Actually not resisting 43mm - I just consolidated my set of lenses to what I need to be functional. A DA 16-50mm, DA 50-150mm cover the range I shoot. I gave up my 31mm, but will never give up my 77mm, since it shoots wonders with portraits. While I don't have an immediate need for 43mm, I might get it eventually (a little too long for walkaround, but great as "full size portrait" I suppose).

I have read up on Neil's blog, and also the other off-camera flashes, including Strobist. Great material (but less time).

Could you elaborate on the K-5 custom WB? I generally shoot in raw, and set the WB later during post. One idea I had was to shoot a 18% gray for one of the frames, and use it as a reference during Lightroom processing. Does custom WB work for raw as well?

And now, to decide if I want Metz 50 or Pentax 540.....

Last edited by pentaman; 01-28-2012 at 05:24 PM.
01-28-2012, 04:10 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ecaterin Quote
His book, On-Camera Flash, is also well worth a read and jumped me ahead much faster than I otherwise would have gotten.
Bought the book, and read most of his posts. While I have read a lot of strobist posts, I have not been able to understand many concepts until I have used them (successfully or not).

Given this, and given that K-5 performs admirably well in P-TTL, I hope to get some good/great shots. Thank you all for the advice!
01-28-2012, 05:12 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaman Quote
Actually not resisting 43mm - I just consolidated my set of lenses to what I need to be functional. A DA 16-50mm, DA 50-150mm cover the range I shoot. I have up my 31mm, but will never give up my 77mm, since it shoots wonders with portraits. While I don't have an immediate need for 43mm, I might get it eventually (a little too long for walkaround, but great as "full size portrait" I suppose).
Aaaah - well, if I had that set o' lenses, I wouldn't necessarily need to rush out and buy the FA43 either! *drool!*
FWIW, I have discovered that the 43 is a really really flexible focal length (which surprised me - 50mm was too long for me & I didn't like 35mm, but 43.....). Secondly, it definitely has its own rendering, quite different from the 77 or the 31, and very lovely. So, you know, it'll lure you in eventually


QuoteQuote:
I have read up on Neil's blog, and also the other off-camera flashes, including Strobist. Great material (but less time).
ITA - Strobist has been a wealth of info, great site!


QuoteQuote:
Could you elaborate on the K-5 custom WB? I generally shoot in raw, and set the WB later during post. One idea I had was to shoot a 18% gray for one of the frames, and use it as a reference during Lightroom processing. Does custom WB work for raw as well?
Oh man, you don't know about this feature? BEST. FEATURE. EVER. You don't shoot your 18% card and then use PS later, you use the 18% card to pre-set the WB *in camera!*

Go into the WB menu, go down to the screen-looking-icon with the "3" next to it, second from the bottom (*not* K3 - that's the bottom of the menu, the one you want is just above it). Click through to the 1, 2 and 3 options - those are the 3 slots for custom WB settings. Click through on one of them, and on the upper left of the screen, you'll see "shutter adjust." Now take a photo of your 18% card in the room you're setting your WB for - bam, now every shot you take with your WB on that custom setting, is custom adjusted for the lighting in that room.

Once I discovered this, I've used it every time I'm in indoor lighting. It's very very accurate so far as I've found

QuoteQuote:
And now, to decide if I want Metz 50 or Pentax 540.....
You've undoubtedly seen the many really good write-ups comparing Pentax compatible flashes. The only reason I went with the Metz 50 was it was on sale at the moment for $199
QuoteQuote:

[....]

Bought the book, and read most of his posts. While I have read a lot of strobist posts, I have not been able to understand many concepts until I have used them (successfully or not).

Given this, and given that K-5 performs admirably well in P-TTL, I hope to get some good/great shots. Thank you all for the advice!
You're very welcome, though it's the advice of another newbie OTOH, advice from someone who *just* learned a skill you're acquiring can often be more pertinent than someone who's forgotten what initially foxed them about the subject, many moons ago

I, too, need to put what I'm reading about into effect before I truly get it. My family members put up with 2 weeks of me shooting bounce-flash photos of them ALL THE TIME, everywhere we went, while they watched movies, while we ate dinner LOL! I'd read about a technique, grab the camera & flash, and go put it into effect - by far the fastest way to internalize the information, and make all my mistakes as fast as possible!

Good luck - and come back & post photos for us!

ETA: Returning to re-iterate the need to update your flash & K-5 to the latest firmware - absolutely necessary for p-TTL to work (hmmm - does the Pentax flash allow you to update the flash's firmware on your own? That's a feature I wouldn't go without, since every time the camera firmware gets updated, you might need to update the flash's firmware....and if you have to send it back to the factory, that's rather inconvienient! )
01-28-2012, 06:03 PM   #15
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I have 16-50, K-5, and TT520. I like my flash for cheap price^^ but not good at event photography -- I use at manual mode cause it doesn't have a TTL... Someday I'll buy pentax flash.

for event photography, should I have to bounce the flash?
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